Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review of "Praying For Girls" by Teri Lynne Underwood

This. This is the BEST prayer for your kids type book I have ever read, seen, heard of - please for the love, GO GET YOURSELF A COPY OF THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. The author focuses not just the potential behaviors of the child, but as the tag line says, focuses on "asking God for the things they need most."

Covering your girl(s) in prayer for the following are highlighted: Prayers for Her Identity, Prayers for Her Heart, Prayers for Her Mind, Prayers for Her Relationships, and Prayers for Her Purpose. The "sample" prayers she includes in each chapter/topic are real, not fancy sounding. They are Scripturally based with supporting references, and are beautifully written. She includes real life stories, snippets Just for Moms, and for those doers out there, practical actionary items that support each section - they are broken out into little girls, middle girls, and older girls. This book is comprehensive and practical and well written and did I mention it's the best of this type of book I have ever seen? If you have girls, ever hope to have them, or even if you have a special niece/goddaughter/sweet pea in your life - you will want this book!

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Review of "Freedom's Ring" by Heidi Chiavaroli

Set in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, runner Annie David is haunted by the guilt she feels over her niece Grace's injury from coming to cheer her on as she finished the marathon on that fateful day. In her grief after the tragedy, she abandons her sister's family - shutting them out completely - and buries her emotions. This goes on for several years. As the book opens, she is barely making inroads to reconnect, and the road is definitely rocky.

Liberty Caldwell is a bold and brave woman in the midst of the beginnings of the American Revolution. Her brother is killed in the Boston Massacre, and that day is a turning point for her in more ways than one. In the horrors that follow Liberty is faced with choices she never thought she'd have to make, and ultimately she must decide - will she trust God to care for her above all else?

This novel has such an interesting point of view! I know bouncing back and forth between time periods has been done before, but the author has woven the stories of Annie and Liberty together seamlessly. Both stories are compelling and interesting. Both heroines are seeking justice and have experienced unusual tragedy. The supporting characters (Annie's boyfriend, sister, and niece; Liberty's British love interest and faithful future spouse) are compelling. It is easy to recommend this book - make sure to check it out!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review of "The Two of Us" by Victoria Bylin

Nurse Practitioner Mia Robinson has had a rough time in the love department. The parent figure to her late teens sister, and highly bound up in a DEEP sense of responsibility in all areas of her life, Mia is determined to not let Lucy make any major mistakes.....including getting married at 19, just because she is pregnant! As a by product of this impending wedding, Mia soon meets Jake Tanner, now the father figure to the almost-groom. Jake is a former police officer who was forced to retire after a career ending injury which also killed his partner, soon to be groom Sam's mother.

Jake and Mia have even more in common than they first think, but Mia's fears continue to impact their future at every step. However, Mia and Jake, Lucy and Sam, and even their families are all determined to find what God is saying to do when they are confronted with decisions and events. The author has created numerous layers and depth in the characters. However, it was a challenge to give this book 'highest marks' because I didn't find Mia to be completely likeable, and had a hard time rooting for her. This is just my opinion of course, and others may not read her that way at all. This book also addresses many life issues, such as a worldview of poverty and what real people can do about it, loneliness, career change, fear, control issues, Alzheimer's, aging parents, and more - but overall everything is covered with a lot of grace which makes up for quite a bit. :)

I was provided with a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Review of "High as the Heavens" by Kate Breslin

In this sweeping and comprehensive novel primarily set in German-occupied Belgium in 1917, the author focuses on the complicated wartime relationships between British Nurse Evelyn Marche, her family, and Captain Simon Forrester.

Eve is a nurse by day but a spy always, working with the resistance organization La Dame Blanche (The White Lady). Even though their work is very dangerous -and they even have German soldiers billeted under their very roof - most of her family is also involved. Eve's role as a nurse allows her a unique access to important information that can help the Allies, and she works diligently to pass along what she learns.

One night, Eve goes to meet "a package" (not knowing that the package is actually her long-believed-dead husband) - and when his plane crashes, he is wounded. She takes steps to conceal his identity and their relationship, but Simon is now suspicious of Eve's motives as he is unaware of her role in the resistance. Her risks to keep his true identity and their relationship hidden go deep, and to further complicate things, there is a double agent in the mix.

We also bounce back and forth between memories of Simon and Eve's courtship, as well as the great emotional burden Eve still carries from war crimes several years prior.

This book reads as very well researched and clearly illustrates some of the conflicts and difficulties experienced in this time period. Eve and Simon's struggle to reunite all of the family, keep their loved ones safe, and learn to trust each other again are well done. The author also paints a lovely picture of redemption. I am happy to recommend this book!

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Review of "A Name Unknown" by Roseanna M. White

Roseanna M. White's first book in her latest series, "Shadows over England", is truly a gem. Featuring a high end female thief and a wealthy (secret) author of a fiction adventure series, she has created a beautiful story of redemption and well illustrates that what is seen is not always the truth of the matter.

Rosemary Gresham was orphaned at eight and forced to steal to eat. Over the years she has managed to create a large family - one not related in any way by blood, but of their shared need for survival. When she is 'hired' to find out where the loyalties of Peter Holstein lie - is it with England, or Germany? - she poses as a librarian to gain access to his house and life.

Peter Holstein actually has dual citizenship, but chose England when he turned 18. As the country is on the brink of WWI, the questions and accusations against him grow louder, and Peter must locate the documents that prove his citizenship. He hires Rosemary to organize his library and family history, and find the items he needs - and in the process of this job, things begin to change for both of them.

The plot points are layered without being tedious or clunky; the humor and mysteries are equally well done; and this is easily one of the best novels I've read lately. I can enthusiastically recommend this book!

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Review of "The Divide" by Jolina Petersheim

In the conclusion of the story that began in "The Alliance", we pick up some time after the Mennonite community has become established in their new location, in the mountains. Leora Ebersole is beginning to grow very weary under the combined pressure of caring for her family and her worries about what has happened to Moses Hughes, the pilot who crashed in their original commune. Meawhile, Jabil is happy to step into the gap Moses' absence has created, and he and Leora grow closer.

As the world continues to shift based on the new "rules", the divide between previous loyalties and relationships become even more tenuous. It's almost impossible to know who to trust, and Leora makes serious choices about things she never thought she'd have to face. And, who will she finally choose - Jabil, or Moses? Will the new community survive? Can Leora live with her secrets?

This two book series was enjoyable and interesting. I have found that as a reviewer it's challenging to expand too much more on the storylines in this book, without giving any spoilers! Also, please note that this is definitely a sequel that you will want to read the books in order; I didn't feel this was a standalone novel. So if you haven't already, make sure to pick up "The Alliance" first!

This book was given to me by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

The Divide

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review of "Just Look Up' by Courtney Walsh

Interior Designer Lane Kelley is forced to return from her big city job and life, to her small tourist town when her brother Nate is in a terrible motorcycle accident. She has avoided home like the plague since a devastating rift occurred. (The author doesn't tell you right away exactly what neither will I!) For years, Lane has intentionally buried herself in work - and she has been successful at both advancing her career and studiously avoiding the real issues.

Veteran Ryan Brooks has his own emotional scars; he and his sister barely survived their childhood with no mother, and an alcoholic dad. Now a renovator/businessman extraordinaire, Ryan is determined to do his part to revitalize the tourism for their lake front town. He was also in the accident with Nate; he has vague memories of what happened, but suspects there is more to it than he can fully remember. And what he does remember shames him deeply, even though none of it is his responsibility. Ryan is also buried in his huge development project, but still manages to find some balance; all the while, trying to draw Lane out of her shell and find the girl he once knew.

The layers the author has created with these characters and story were nuanced and well done. The quirkiness of some of the characters is fun, rather than odd; and although I know we must have conflict(!) the author does not take a cheap version of misunderstandings to create this tension. Instead, she draws from the character's backstory to find ways that are completely plausible rather than annoying. Do we think they will be together in the end? Will there ever be healing for Lane and her family relationships? Will Ryan ever be free of the stigma of his childhood, and will his business venture succeed? Probably, but how the author gets there is unusually well done.

I was provided a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.