Friday, March 31, 2017

Deadly Encounter by DiAnn Mills

This is my first introduction to reading a novel penned by DiAnn Mills. I am so excited I have the second book in waiting to review. I cannot wait to dive in and see what's next. 

This is an action packed total suspense novel. When you have to really ponder on where to begin in a review, well, you know you have just finished something jam-packed with everything a reader loves. 

Well written from beginning to end. This novel flows so well. It is continuous suspense. Really. I want to know what DiAnn had for dinner before the thoughts to this story came to mind. She doesn't just bring a story. She weaves many stories into this one. It's amazing how she has penned so many paths journeyed by these characters. 

So, the characters. LOVE them! Who of thinks we are gonna wake up and everything about life in one instant will change? We just are never prepared, but there is One who is. Right? God is weaved throughout this entire story. I love how some of the characters are strong in faith as others are just coming into their faith. A true faith journey to witness. 

The main character is an airport ranger. She leaves her home on an early morning to take a horse ride through the perimeter and it is here that all changes for her. What she uncovers is wide open, but this is where all the suspense begins. One would think it would be a simple crime, but evil is weaved in many forms and seems to attach itself where it is most unwanted. 

Now, if I found a body and a case had to be started, well, I would certainly want Special Agent Alex LeBlanc and Special Agent Ric Price covering the case. These are strong characters throughout the novel. We learn a great deal more about Alex than Ric. These two guys are everywhere and they aren't about to give up. Through them we see two strong men, willing to go the distance no matter. Love how together they go back and forth with their ideas of solving the incidents that just keep coming. They make a great team. 

Stacy Broussard is a pretty selfless woman. She serves as a volunteer, she loves working with animals, which gives her a connection with the community where she is always reaching out. She too has a love for a young boy in her community who is needing love and care. She is a great example for women to follow. She's a strong character with a heart that reaches out past herself, out past that comfort zone, to reach others with something beyond herself. She's one of those characters in which you could envision being friends.

That young boy's name is Whitt. He is that boy that doesn't have life easy. In fact, his home life isn't something of a storybook, but one that reads more of what we see on our nightly news. His parents are a mess. He has a high IQ, a heart of gold, and a great admiration for the woman who opens her home up to him. Their relationship is my favorite throughout the novel. I love seeing the growth in each of them. A trust builds, a genuine friendship, and they depend on one another more than they realize. They are strong for one another and help bring out the best qualities in each of them. 

I could go on and on, but then I would be giving away too much about this novel. If you enjoy reading fast paced suspense, this is one novel you will love. There's romance, but it builds sweetly and gently. Nothing fast paced and it doesn't overpower the story, but fits in perfectly. 

Yes, I cannot wait to continue reading this series with book 2, Deep Extraction. I'll let you know my thoughts on that one. 😉 Happy reading!!

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

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author whose novels have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, and the Carol Award contests. When she's not writing, DiAnn is busy teaching and doing research through the FBI Citizens Academy. She and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her online at www.diannmills.com

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nothing To Prove (Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard) by Jennie Allen

If you peek at all of my reviews from previous books read by Jennie Allen you will notice something. Each and every book, although different, gives a tremendous blessing to the soul. I mean, that hungry soul, searching for something unlike anything else to fill it up. Jennie's books don't just fill it up, they satisfy. 

Her books speak to the heart. She lays all the truth on the table. What I admire most about her is her audacious love for Jesus and her transparency to share Him with the world around her. She is genuine and that is something rare today. 

I would say this is a book I needed to read right now. I am sure either in your past, maybe in your today, but certainly somewhere in your tomorrow, you too will need these words. This is that book you highlight so much, there isn't any black and white left. It's that read that you say, "Oh, me too!!" Jennie Allen is that girlfriend who tells us the truth and is ready with open arms when we realize where we have been and just where we need to be. Jesus is everything and she is willing to share that. 

Through her words she brings the reader straight to Jesus. She sharing from the heart, but in every chapter, every subject, she takes us to Jesus. That isn't shining light on her, not even us, but always Him. 

I am one of those girls who is forever trying too hard. I found this passage full of a wisdom that I often forget:

"We are made for dependency on God. We were built for that. Because God is invisible we put our neediness on people, and that becomes unhealthy one hundred percent of the time. It's called codependency. If we connect with people and we do t connect with God, we end up asking people to be our enough. People will always eventually disappoint you. Don't be surprised. They aren't enough either. Only GOD has the resources and ability to exhaustively meet your needs. Yes, we also were designed to need human relationships, but they can never be enjoyed if we're using them to replace the ultimate relationship."

Here's a few more faves:

"To get to the place where God can be enough, we have to first admit we aren't. Pretending we are okay-that is how a lot of us are making life work. With that illusion gone, we might have to live needing God."

"He is waiting. He is waiting and He wants to go crazy through you. You don't feel like you measure up? Then you are exactly who God is looking for. you are the one. You are the one He is after. He wants you and me: the losers, the broken, the sinful, the ones who know and accept how great our need is for Him. That is how He works. Every single person in the Bible, besides Jesus, was broken, afraid, insecure, fearful, busy, did not have enough time, did not have enough money, did not have enough anything-and God move through them to change history. Eternity is going to be shifted. Because finally a little army decided nothing on earth could hold them back."

That's good stuff, right? This is that book to share with a girlfriend, to share with your children, read with your husband, to use as a small group study. Bottom line..it's the book you need to read if you are feeling overwhelmed, not good enough, and just plain worn smack out from trying to do it all and succeed at everything and everyone. It's one I will keep on the shelf and go back to from time to time. 

This is one you need to grab up. I promise. You will not walk away empty.

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

Jennie Allen is a recovering achiever who is passionate about Jesus. She is the best-selling author of Anything and Restless, as well as the found and visionary for the million-strong IF:Gathering, which exists to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose. Jennie speaks frequently at conferences such as Catalyst and Q. She holds a master's degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Zac, and their four children. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

Oh, just where do I begin? This is the stuff in which great novels are made. I made my way through this richly beautiful novel turning page after page with such deep emotion and thought. I couldn't turn the pages quick enough, but I didn't want it to end to soon. It's one of those novels you could continue reading as long as there were pages. No page just made of fluff, words with no meaning on the page. Every single line in this novel created a story that will last in my heart forever. 

Ms. Everson, I am so happy stories of the war were shared with you. Oh, to have your Sunday school teacher share with you, "You can't choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose who you marry", is a blessing that has now enchanted your readers. What a story you have weaved together. History penned with such depth, detail, and a story that captures the heart. 

This lovely story begins in 1941. The war has started. Picture a family gathered around the Zenith to hear the news. Everything changed this day. But even in war God brings blessings to those who love Him. Even in the storms that brew, He moves in much bigger ways. 

The characters in this novel touched my heart greatly. Alice-Ann is a character I will never forget. It was a privilege to see her go from a young teen to a woman. It didn't happen over a great amount of years. Only a few took place, but within that time frame God moved in Alice-Ann, growing her into the woman He created her to be. One could say it is a coming of age story. We see Alice-Ann with her girlfriends and right before our eyes they are growing up.

See, Alice-Ann doesn't see herself as beautiful. Oh, she can look at her girlfriends and see their beauty, but for herself she wonders just what happened to make her all plain. But, what I love so much is that as Alice-Ann struggles with her own self just as we do. I so admire how Ms. Everson allowed us to see this part of Alice-Ann. As she grows, as life unfolds,  she grows to see what beauty truly is. She comes to see the beauty that others have seen in her all along. Alice-Ann carries within her a beauty that surpasses most on their best day. 

Funny how as young girls we think we know what love is.  We are more in love with the idea of being in love, right? Alice-Ann too thought she was in love, but it wasn't until everything changed that love came to Alice-Ann in a way she never knew. True love to come once in a lifetime. 

Alice-Ann's family, the farmhouse, the relationships, it all just falls into perfection. It was like reading a true story of a family of this era. Her father, a man of great honor; her brother, a young man to be admired; her sister-in-law, one she would grow to call friend; and her aunt, the woman who holds this family together. All of these characters are all valuable in this story. They are all a part of who Alice-Ann is. 

The war takes so much away from the people of Bynum, Georgia, but together they have such hope. A faith that they didn't know was so great until that's all they had to carry them through. Throughout the novel we see not only the tragedy on the lands that held the war, but we see what home life was like for the farmers, the women who would now take the jobs of the young men carried off to fight. Together they all made it work. 

I think Alice-Ann is a girl we can all relate to. The guy who catches are attention isn't always the guy who captures our heart. A friendship begins and love soon blossoms for Alice-Ann and life continues to give every day struggles. I love how Alice-Ann waits upon God to direct her paths. This is all part of her growing years. Growing into not only a woman, but a woman of great faith. 

The words flow so easily. Penned as a masterpiece. These black and white words come to life and grab your heart. I cried as I read through chapters. I laughed at the sweet friendship between Alice-Ann and Carlton. Just through their conversations alone it was as if I was watching the big screen and this novel was being played out before me. 

If you love history this is a novel that will take you back in time. If it is a love story you are searching for, well, your heart will be moved from the first to the last chapter. A story about friendship, family, and faith, you will find it all right here. I simply cannot say enough good things about this novel. Yes, this is a place I could visit over and over again and never tire of returning. I do hope we get to return again to this extraordinary time and place. Of course I don't want to give away any spoilers. You're just going to have to believe me and grab this up for yourself.  😉

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

Eva Marie Everson is the award-winning, bestselling author of over 30 fiction and nonfiction titles. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and a member of a number of writer's organizations. She and her husband make their home in central Florida, where they are owned by a small black doxie. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Having A Rabbit Ear Kind of Reception

Are we tuning in? Are we waiting with hope and assurance? We need to be waiting with anticipation and readiness. 

We have become a people that tunes everything out. We zone in to our phone, put our earbuds in, and let everything else around us go. Can you imagine the daily blessings we miss out on by living in our little zone? We live in such a way that we try to quiet all the noise around us. So much so that it causes us to become numb to our very own senses. 

Long ago when my children were young, well, not so long ago, but it seems a lifetime ago, we would gather together and watch American Idol. My husband would be working at night, so it was just me and the kids. We would get snacks and all scrunch in close on the bed and get ready to be wowed. 

On one particular night we weren't getting good reception. At the time we had rabbit ears for our antennae. Those were the good days, right? Well, up until they wouldn't give clear reception. One of the kids had knocked over the antennae. Upon crashing on the floor we all watched in horror as one of the antennae broke off. Oh mercy. Not on this night. Not on the finale. 

What would we do? Oh, this country girl has learned a thing or two about living in a rural area lol. I ran and got the foil paper. I glued that antennae back together with as much foil as possible. I think we could have reached aliens on Mars this night. 

Well, there was a catch to this creation of mine. One of us would have to hold the antennae to make it work. Let me tell ya. That's a LOT of American Idol love, right? So, that's exactly what we did. For the next two hours we took turns holding the antennae so we could tune in to see who would be the season winner. 

There wasn't any complaining. Just great laughter at our antics to watch this show that had captivated us. We couldn't watch the entire season and miss out on who would win, right? We went to great efforts that night to make sure we were tuned in. 

Everyone headed off to bed after the winner was announced. That night we were totally connected in. We were glued to the television and for us it was worth every effort with all of us working together to make sure that all of us got to watch together. Yep, a family thing for sure. 

How's your reception? How closely are you tuning in? Maybe the question we need to ponder is, just what are we willing to do to make sure we are getting the best reception possible? For one thing, we just gotta stop tuning out everything around us. We gotta set down those phones, take out those earbuds, and start paying attention. 

So often we are working so hard to tune out the world around us that we are missing out on the obvious. We are ignoring the very things right in front of our eyes. The thing is, we are trying to connect to all the wrong things. Our focus needs to be on Jesus. How long are we willing to hang on to the antennae?

Amazingly when we tune in to Jesus, seeking Him with everything in us, He is good to open our eyes and ears to the blessings around us. He is good to show us where to reach out and where there are needs. It is in our actions of helping others that His love his shown in a mighty way. If we are willing, if our hearts are ready, He will send us and equip us with everything we need. 

Through being His hands and feet we not only reach others, but our heart changes. Every time we see His glory in impossible situations our faith grows. The more willing we are, the more perceptive we will become to the Spirit moving within us. 

May we keep up those rabbit ears. Keep them ready in expectation at the amazing show before us. After all, we wouldn't want to miss one minute that leads to the long awaited finale, right?

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Galatians 5:16-17

"Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind." Philippians 3:15-16

"Set your mind on things above, not on things of this earth." Colossians 3:2

"My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." Proverbs 2:1-5

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