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.


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