Friday, December 30, 2016

Music & Videos

Even though this blog is devoted to book reviews, I am taking this time to highlight certain songs and the corresponding videos that I have listened to while reading (or writing). Each of these songs have a message that have spoken to me on multiple levels. As you listen to them, take a moment and think about the story the song is telling. These are books in musical form. To make this more fun, comment and tell me your favorite song (or music video) and what genre you love to read for a chance to win a free book. Remember to leave your email so that I can message you if you win.

Enjoy these songs!

1: Lauren Daigle - Come Alive (Dry Bones)

2: The Afters - Live on Forever

3: Unspoken - Open the Clouds

4: Ryan Stevenson - Eye of the Storm

5: Skillet - Stars

6: Switchfoot - Live It Well

7: Need to Breathe - Happiness

8: Hawk Nelson - Diamonds

9: Capital Kings - Believer

10: For King & Country - Shoulders

Hope you  enjoyed the list of songs that I found inspirational.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Unexpected Christmas Gifts

Christmas has always been a wonderful time to me. I love the lights, the decorations, the music, and most of all the love. Even though it seems that each year the Christmas seems to become more commercialize, I have seen a resurgence of the true meaning of Christmas. 

When it comes to gifts, a lot of gifts are not needed nor should it be practiced. Instead, think of the wise men and how their three gifts were precious in the sight of God.

To help with choosing a few gifts, I am listing a few books that I have found that would be enjoyed. Click the link to connect with the author via social media. And help support an author this Christmas and buy one of the books. 


Summer's Flame by Wendy Davy

Surrender to Peace by Rose Allen McCauley

Caged Dove by Andrea Rodgers

Tapestry of Trust by Mary Annslee Urban

From Dishes to Snow by Kathy M. Howard

Contemporary (some with a romance thread)

Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston

Mississippi Nights by D.M. Webb

Fixing Perfect by Therese M. Travis

The 17 by Clint Kelly


Wake the Dead by Victoria Buck

Vanquished by Katie Clark

The Watchman by V.B. Tenery

Historical/Historical Romance

The Madonna of Pisano by MaryAnn Diorio

Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson

Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

These are just a few books selected from the reviews on Rebel Book Reviews. I hope you would choose at least one, if not more, for those special Christmas presents.



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Excerpt from 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir

30 Days: A Devotional Memoir
(Ambassador International 2013)

Luke 2:14
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

This is a story told by my mother to all of her children. This is a story that helped to make sense why every Christmas we had an orange. And no other orange would smell as sweet, taste as soothing, and feel as smooth as that Christmas orange.

The Christmas Orange by Betty Sue Tutor

I grew up in a large family. As a large, poor family we seldom had a Christmas tree, much less Christmas toys. We waited for Santa Claus, but usually we got an orange and a note promising presents "next year". The Christmas that always stood out in my mind was when I was around three years old.
I remember waking up on Christmas morning and seeing a lot of cars and trucks in the yard. We didn't own a vehicle, so even a few cars would seem like a lot to me back then. We had just moved into the community and had very few household items. I remember walking into a room that must have been a living room without furniture, and there were several people sitting around on the floor with boxes of food, toys, presents, fruit, and clothes in front of them.

My mom was sitting in a straight-back chair hold the baby, and someone asked, "Which one is Betty Sue?" My older sister pushed me towards the person, but I was reluctant to go as I was a very shy child. My mom encouraged me to go to them. The person who asked for me showed me a box with my name on it and said it was for me. The one thing that caught my eye was an orange. I grabbed the orange and bit into the peeling. Nothing else mattered but that orange.

The people who came that Christmas morning were from a local church. And they had heard of a poor family that had a lot of kids without a Christmas...and that was the best Christmas I ever had.

This memory had helped me understand missionaries, missions, and the true meaning of Christmas. These people were simple ordinary people going about the Lord's work, and none of them knew the impact they had on my life nor the influence they had on me as a Christian.

I shared this memory with my mom and older sister when I was eighteen years old. They were both surprised I could remember that Christmas, since I was only three years old. My mom filled me in on the circumstances: how the church had heard from the farmer, on whose land we were living, about how we were poor, without food and without winter clothing. She said she cried that day thanking God for sending those people to help us and told me to keep this memory, to share it with my kids...I did, and I have.

Every Christmas I look forward to my Christmas orange, and every Christmas I find my orange under the tree, even if I have to put it there myself on Christmas Eve. A bag of oranges can sit on my counter, but the one that tastes the best is the one I find under my Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

Praise God for ordinary people willing to go about doing the Lord's work, and thank God for Christmas morning and my Christmas orange.

Find more inspirational stories in 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir by D.M. Webb.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

NKJV: Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible

Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible
(Thomas Nelson 2016)

To keep on my track of reading and reviewing Bible versions and styles for a range of ages, I really loved the look, feel, and layout of the NJKV: Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible.

This is a perfect Bible for that young man, particularly ages 9 to 13.

The inserts provide valuable insights for the child and in an easy to understand syntax. References, maps, and thought provoking questions are also included.

If you want a child to grow strong in God's word, this is a Bible that will do so. It makes the Bible interesting and relevant to a child in today's world.

Highly recommended for that preteen.

***I received this Bible through BookLook Bloggers via Thomas Nelson*** 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories

Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories
Bonnie Rickner Jensen
(Thomas Nelson 2016) 

I'm still on my kick about reviewing books for children. I have come across some great titles, and books that will make exceptional Christmas presents. This book by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrated by Robert Dunn is great.

Even though as times the rhymes may seem forced, that only occurred twice that I found, the stories are easy to read and hold a cadence that will delight young readers.

The Biblical stories are sound and accurate. I especially loved the stories, Moses Leads God's People and Three Big Names, Three Brave Men. But the one I loved the most was The Shepherd cares for the Lost.

"If one of His sheep, 
Just one little one, 
Wanders away from His side, 
He wont's give up!
He won't give in!
He'll search both far and wide."

A simple, yet powerful, story of His amazing love.

The details of the illustrations are rich and colorful. And this adds dimension to the stories. 

This beautiful book of bedtime stories is a definite must have for any child.

***I received this book through BookLook Bloggers via Thomas Nelson*** 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Watchman by V.B. Tenery

The Watchman
V.B. Tenery
(Pelican Book Group 2014) 

He can't save the world....but he can try.

With special abilities, Noah will try to use his power for good and for the glory of the Lord.  As a P.I. Noah takes on a pro bono style case that soon becomes meshed with two others. Not everything is as it appears and sometimes those guardian angels have to call in reinforcements in order to protect God's children, sometimes from their own stupidity, Noah included.

This is a well paced book, with plenty of action, just enough grit, and a whole lot of faith. The readers are given moments of down time to recover from the last high impact action before the next page hurdles them headlong down another road of chases, fights, and flights.

Noah has a self-depreciating attitude at times coupled with subtle humor; this is seen in his tongue-in-cheek alias Sam Spade (who is a P.I character well known for his cutting and snide remarks aka snarky attitude). You couldn't fall in love with Noah Adams? A man of integrity. A man of action and compassion. A man of values, but still with his faults that humanize him. I'll admit there were times that I wished this character was real, so that I could smack on the back of the head or give him a really big hug.

V.B. Tenery brought to life the viewpoint of a man; tough exterior, soft heart, fearless, brave, and headstrong. The readers come to understand Noah's driving force; "the why" of his actions and determination. He is one of the few that is compelled to help those who need it, none more so than the children.

I loved this story. I loved how it all was woven together into this giant tale that had me wanting more of Noah's story to read.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Killswitch by Victoria Buck

Victoria Buck
(Pelican Book Group 2016)

Although not as captivating as the first book, Wake the Dead, Killswitch did offer its own list of merits.

It centered mainly about the underground church and how Chase tried to insert himself in this strange life of people who are far different from the world he lived in.

The Christianity portrayed in this book is strong, and at times it felt too strong for me. I did have a problem with the people thinking that lying was a sin. Remember Rahab and her blessing for her lie that protect God's people? Only the bearing of false witness aka lying to harm another is a sin. So that part kind of bothered me, especially when the theft of supplies wasn't frowned upon. (Of course the theft was needed to survive.)

The narrative was at times jilted and I was left with filling in the blanks to obtain the picture needed. BUT that didn't keep me from reading. This story wasn't about the action or the underground church versus the WR. It was about Chase. And all about Chase.

On that note, the book brought the deep impact of Chase's actions and reactions to his new world. The reader will see him evolve from a man who thought he could save the people, to a man who had it all taken from him (again), and finally to the man who surrendered to a higher power which gave him strength he never knew he had.

I look forward to the next installment. I have to know what happens in Detroit! And I have to know the answers to the questions that Killswitch left me with.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories by Julie Stiegemeyer

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories
Julie Stiegemeyer
(Zonderkidz 2016) 

I don't often write reviews on children books or children Bible storybooks. Usually because those book are open to interpretation and artistic flair. Children's minds are not like adults so the stories would have to be severely scaled back for their understanding.

This book captured my attention with the illustrations and I chose to review it thinking it may make for a nice Christmas gift.

What did I think of God's Little Lambs Bible Stories? I found it interesting. I like how the major stories of the Bible: In the Beginning, Garden of Eden, Noah, Jericho, Joseph, David, and Jesus to name a few. The stories did host an abbreviated account of each, but still relayed the most important parts of that Biblical account.

The New Testament was different in its telling, making sure that the stories centered around Jesus and sparked an ember for a child to want to know more about Jesus. 

After each story, the little box that summed up the "moral of the story" is a sentence or two that helps the story relate to the child's life.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I find it more intriguing than any other Bible storybook. 

***I received this book from Zondervan via Booklook Bloggers in exchanged of an honest and complete review***  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr

Shattered Vigil
Patrick W. Carr
(Bethany House 2016)

 Shattered Vigil is the second installment in the Darkwater Saga. If I thought By Divine Right and Shock of Night were superb, then I have no words for Shattered Vigil.

Patrick Carr has the ability to pull the reader into a new world and immerse that reader into cultures, beliefs, societies, and lands that are rich in detail. He uses not just first person point of view (Willet Dura), but also third person, to give the reader a dual experience. Let them know what is to come and what is happening, but to also be there, be that character.

When it comes to reading a fantasy novel, I want to be swept away with complex characters. Those type of characters where at times I will hate them or extremely dislike them, but other times where I view them as a hero. There are no stereotypes in this book.

Published by a Christian company, Shattered Vigil holds a multi-faceted story of the Christian faith. So many nuances and little sub-stories within parallel the stories in the Bible, and even the people of the Bible.

I was only disappointed one time in the book. And that was when it ended! The one person who was thought to be a phantom became real. I looked forward to the next book and need to find out if the mystery of Darkwater will ever be solved. Will Willa's vault be his undoing? Will the Vigil and the Urchins become more than anyone ever thought possible?

This is truly a book full of saints and sinners, but all one soul seeking truth. 

***I received this book through NetGalley in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette

Shadow of the Storm
Connilyn Cossette
(Bethany House 2016)

This is the second book in the Out of Egypt series. The reader will find the same characters, learn more about another, and see from the eyes of a newer character.

Shadow of the Storm presents a story of the exodus from Egypt led by Moses. As they are camped at the foot of the mountain, live goes on as each of the characters learn what it means to truly follow God and the dangers of breaking His covenant.

Seeing history play out through the eyes of Shira, who is not privy to all the happenings and decisions of the elders, and who has to overcome a horrific assault from her past, is truly an experience in reading. Even the story told from the eyes of Dvorah, a vengeful woman, brings to light how the Hebrews strove to throw off the influences of Egypt and to fully embracing the love of God.

Connilyn Cossette brings such wonderful details to the novel. The reader will feel the hurt, hope, despair, and love from these characters. We see with new eyes the story of the Hebrews and glean new understanding to the story we all know.

I look forward to reading the next book, because surely there will be another.

***I received this book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Slender Reeds by Texie Susan Gregory

Slender Reeds:
Jochebed's Hope
Texie Susan Gregory
(Shiloh Run Press 2016) 

Slender Reeds is a take on a Biblical story that most all know. We have all read and seen stories about Moses and the exodus from Egypt, but never have we really been exposed to the story before his birth.

Texie Susan Gregory takes on this challenge. She proposes a "what-if" scenario into the life of the Hebrews held captive in Egypt. Seen from the eyes of not just Jochebed, Moses' mother, but also her friends, Ramses, and others.

We see, as if floating above watching a movie or play unfolding before us, the madness of Ramses, the heartache of Jochebed and Shiphrah, and the anguish of the Hebrews.

Told with such exquisite detail I could see the love, hope, and faith that God works in the darkness. I felt the horror at the little lives lost in such hatred. I understood in further detail the madness of Ramses and his rule.

With historical accuracy, Slender Reeds brings to life a new outlook on an old, old story that was a promise 400 years in the making.

Once I finished this book, I wanted more.  So many nuances, so many reeds, so many stories told within these pages that it created a wonderful work of art to be savored and read time and time again.

Texie Susan Gregory resurrected the writing styles of the classical masters and breathed new life into how stories should be told. A highly recommended read for anyone.

***I received this book from Barbour Publishing in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

Lightning on a Quiet Night
Donn Taylor
(Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas 2014)

In the town of Beneficent, "A Town As Good As Its Name", a myriad of characters come to life and begin a journey that changes the town's heart and soul.

From the first pages of learning more about Lisa and her unwillingness to give this rural town a chance to the end where Jack learns more about what it means to forgive and trust his faith in the future, the reader is pulled into a story set within rural Mississippi and held there throughout this spellbinding tale.

Lisa is a northerner thrust into a world that is different and as she tries to label and categorize its people she finds herself befriending the unlikeliest of people and learning to love what she started off as hating. Jack begins as an enigma, a mystery that takes time to discover as each chapter peels back another layer to his character: his history, his military life, and his determination, but above all his love for the town and its people. 

As for the secondary characters, each promises and delivers a well rounded tale and adds the dimension needed to the story, from the red herring to the wolf in sheep's clothing.

With each steady pace of the plot the reader is shown every facet of the town which prided itself as the jewel of charity and doing good. But as the Scripture says: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

But instead of completely falling, the town and its people learn a valuable lesson in love, forgiveness, and humility. 

In my opinion this book is a great piece of literary prose. Multiple layers of symbolism, well developed characters, deep themes, and a range of tones and moods keep this book interesting and engaging.

It quickly became one of my favorites and one that I would recommended time and time again. Donn Taylor wrote an excellent novel!  

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Can't Help Falling
Kara Isaac
(Howard Books 2016)

Right off the first page I was intrigued by this book. I didn't need to know the why Emelia was in Oxford, England. I understood from the beginning that it was to atone for a past failure.

What captured me and held me throughout was Emelia's penchant for wardrobes and the pull to find Narnia.

Do I believe in coincidences? Not really. Only if it's concerning a free parking spot or finding the last copy of a favorite book or movie. What I do believe and what this book shows in stark detail is that God is in the details. From falling out of a wardrobe to finding that elusive teacup, God orchestrates His symphony to capture a person's heart and soul. This happened to Emelia and Peter.

The symbolism was light and subtle. I didn't lose the significance of the broken ship.

And although the ending seemed wanting in a little more depth and not feeling a little rushed, I did enjoy the different conclusion that a reader normally doesn't see in a romance novel.

The faith aspect was weaved throughout and came naturally. More conservative readers would probably be bothered by the mention of a woman vicar, but that is only one flaw that I found in the novel.

Tight writing, fast pacing, and a truly authentic romance made this a book I enjoyed. If you are looking for a newer and different romance, then give Can't Help Falling a try.  

***I received a copy of this novel through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange of an honest review***  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

A Lady Unrivaled
Roseanna M. White
(Bethany House 2016) 

After reading The Reluctant Duchess, I waited with bated breath on whether Roseanna M. White could top that masterfully written novel. And she did without exception.

A Lady Unrivaled brings to a close a trio of love stories and the mystery of the Fire Eyes. Ella, who had been mentioned in both books, was a simply delightful character and one that many people who are creative and adventurous would relate. Cayton is the man who dreams are made of and who is the epitome of how deep an individual's personality can go.

Readers will immerse themselves into a wonderfully written novel.

The descriptions send the reader right into the middle of the early 1900's, on the cusp of war. New characters are brought to us. Another character is brought healing and forgiveness. And yet another will find that a person can always change for the better.

During this Edwardian society, seeing the impending change on the horizon and the blurred lines between social classes, is a nice change from Regency or Victorian romances.

There's a hint of an new book and a different land and I hope that it will come about. There's a new story left brewing once you close the book.

Roseanna M. White has once again proven herself a master at storytelling by bringing readers a well researched, artfully written, and superb novel.  

***I received a copy through Bethany House in exchange of an honest and compete review***


Friday, September 2, 2016

The 17 by Clint Kelly

The 17
Clint Kelly
(Harbourlight 2016)

"This promises to be a bumpy ride."

One sentence to sum the book: "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said."

How many times do we find ourselves determined to be the one in control of our lives? Or fail to realize that we have a purpose or a reason why we are where we are? Or better yet, that we really are not trying to run away from God, but wanting to run to Him?

If ever presented with intuition in the form of demands only you could hear, how would you respond?

Clint Kelly answers that question as he leads us on a journey riding the #17 bus in Seattle.

We see different walks of life; their humanity; their dreams and longings; their answers to prayers. And in most all cases, divine intervention.

Never judge a book by its cover and never judge a person by his/her looks. God will use whom He chooses as is evident in the story of James Carter.

This book will keep you enthralled. It will take your emotions for a ride. It will show you the beauty and frailty of our humanity. 

Beautiful writing and rich storytelling marks The 17 as a true masterpiece.

***I received this book from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange of an honest and complete review***

Fixing Perfect by Therese M. Travis

Fixing Perfect
Therese M. Travis
(Harbourlight Books 2014) 

"One man makes it his mission to fix the broken, even if it kills them."

Some see the handicap as broken, instead of awesome. With each little difference in the character who live with what we would call a disability, the author shows the reader the meaning of perfect love.

This is not just a suspense or a mystery, despite the red herrings thrown into the story; neither is it just a romance. This book layers friendship and love on top of determination and trust in God.

Therese M. Travis brings to life the lives of two friends, a small child, and deranged killer, each with their own voice.

No convenient "hero saves them all" or the author pushing the boundaries of belief. This is a story of everyday people who are thrust into a terrifying ordeal.

From the beginning of page one to the last word written, I was thoroughly engrossed in this novel.

I had been longing for a chance to read this novel, and I'm absolutely thrilled that it exceeded my expectations!  

***I received a copy from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange of an honest and complete review*** 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Occupied by Craig Parshall

The Occupied
Craig Parshall
(Tyndale 2016) 

Once again I've come across a book that leaves me with a deeper meaning to spiritual warfare. The Occupied is more than mere thriller or horror; it is also a book on truth about the unseen forces that influence the world today just as it did in the past.

Because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. The character Trevor Black (and I started to see a little symbolism about his name as I read more) is blessed with the gift of discernment. Discernment meaning he can smell and sense the evil of demons around him and at times see them as they "occupied" a person.

Although the Christian aspect is not heavy or layered thickly throughout the book, the belief in Christ is made evident. As is the Scriptural truths about the battle that we cannot see.

Some people may scoff and say that this is truly a work of fiction, but lessons and truth are often threaded through fiction. Can anyone smell demons? Yes, they can. Can anyone see demons? Most assuredly. Is there a way to be protected from them? A definite and resounding yes. And in the book this is shown multiple times.

Told in present tense, first person at the beginning and then morphing into past tense, first person, the reader is held firmly into the story to experience the life of Trevor Black as he learns what his new gift means for him and why. There are references to things I've seen in other books, such as Guardian King and Lord of flies, that makes those other books take on a new level. And it deepens the story of The Occupied even more. The title, The Occupied, has a dual meaning itself.

Want to know what it is? Then read the book! I highly and fervently recommend it.

It is a book that leaves you wanting more of Trevor's story; leaves you with questions and the need to understand more; leaves you with a veil lifted from your eyes and the desire to understand more about the full armor of God.

Craig Parshall has brought to readers a solid book of mystery, thrills, passion, hope, and above all love. Emotions ride high in The Occupied. And I will repeat this, buy the book! It's a book that will stay with you for days to come.  

 ***I received this book through Tyndale Blog Network in exchange of my full and honest review***

Friday, August 12, 2016

Frantic by Mike Dellosso

Mike Dellosso
(Realms 2012)

I love thrillers. I love horror. I like the heart thumping reaction to reading the battle between good and evil. Frantic offered me exactly that.

This is an in-your-face type of story. Think Stephen King and Rose Red, think Dean Koontz and his supernatural stories, or how about House on Haunted Hill?

Those don't compare to the darkness that this book forces the reader to face.

One twist after another kept the pages turning. One breath stealing scene to another kept me glued to the words unfolding before me.

This isn't your run of the mill Christian fiction or Christian thriller. It is straight up horror for the adrenaline junkies. And like most all horror stories, good overcomes evil; evil never prevails; and in this story, God is in control of it all.

This is just one of many books by Mike Dellosso that proved to me that he is beyond a doubt a master storyteller. If I want a book that will wear me out, will force me to keep the lights on, or will cause me to triple check my locks, then he is my go-to guy.

As with any book, it does have it flaws. Maybe I wished for a deeper connection with one of the characters (just not Gary or Harold, thank you). Maybe I wished for a little more action in some scenes, some kind of movement of the characters that would bring them to life a little bit more. But those are just my preferences. 

The story that Frantic brought to me quickly tamped down any thing that I may have considered a flaw. The story moved quickly, never allowing for a breath to be taken, and gave me a really great read. If you have not tried any of Mike Dellosso's books, I encourage you to do so. They are books that will definitely stay with you. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Vanquished by Katie Clark

(Pelican Book Group 2014) 

It is a time of Greaters, Middles, and Lessers...until that time is challenged by a few....

Dystopian novels are one of the more popular novels. Dystopian Young Adult novels seem to be the rage among them. Vanquished delivers not only a truly unique dystopian tale, but one that is full of true young adult material.

Many books leave the reader questioning if he/she really read a book told through a teenager's eyes. The angst may be there, but where's the character growth, the battle between adulthood and childhood? 

With Katie Clark's Vanquished, Hana is shown at the cusp of womanhood. She has her tendencies to act immature, but to also question and push the boundaries of her rigid surroundings.

Her bravery at not backing down to discover the truth, her wisdom in discerning what to do and when to do it, and her desire to learn the truth about the Greaters set in motion a tale that far surpass most books I have read.

Throughout the book, parallels of the present world and this new world portrayed weave in a complex thread. The scenario is believable. Greaters would have all the luxuries. Middles would have to provide it. Lessers would have to sustain it. The hint of a socialist world is seen through Hana's eyes. And the truth will set you free...that's the theme that comes across as I read Vanquished.

Katie Clark handles the present tense, first person style of writing with ease and expertise. I felt as though I was discovering the information right along with Hana. I panicked when she panicked. I wondered when she wondered. I became angry when she became angry.

If you are looking for an honest-to-goodness Young Adult novel, then I can definitely recommend Vanquished by Katie Clark. And I look forward to reading the further adventures of Hana Norfolk. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Surrender to Peace by Rose Allen McCauley

Surrender to Peace
(Olivia Kimbrell Press 2015) 

~~"I had to come to the point of total surrender, giving up what I wanted, and being willing to accept whatever He wanted..."~~(Ramona p.58)

The book brought this line to life. An easy read that wasn't about conflicts. It wasn't about a whirlwind romance. It wasn't about fighting against God's will.

It was a love story--a sweet and simple love story about surrendering your heart.

As I read Joy's and Benigno's story, I came to realize that another love story was unfolding--God's love story.

As the words breezed into my mind, as I pictured myself on the beaches and streets of Puerto Rico, peace settled over me. 

And the title says it all "Surrender to Peace". Only then can love shine and the voice of God be heard.

If you want a sweet, timeless love story written in the vein of Henry van Dyke, then Rose Allen McCauley brought one to you. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mail Order Surprise by Lucy Thompson

Mail Order Surprise
(Forget Me Not Romances 2016)

Western romances seem to be the rage in historical romances lately. There are so many and most seem to be cookie cutters of each other, but not so with Lucy Thompson's Mail Order Surprise. She exceeds a Mary Connealy book or a Colleen Coble novel with her wit and humor.

To me it was a fresh take on the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers theme. The surprises that cropped up in the story were unexpected and pleasant. 

At times I wondered why Lydia did the things she did, and it made sense once the ending was reached. "Ah, yeah, that makes sense now. I don't blame her one bit" was my reaction. 

Reading this novel was almost like watching not just the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but also a John Wayne flick like McClintock and others. The brothers interacted with each other in such a natural way. Lydia and the children seemed to be a natural extension of that family. The love that developed between Beau and Lydia was what was expected of an arranged marriage, but one that was orchestrated by God. 

Mail Order Surprise brought a real type of Western life, complete with tough gals and chivalrous cowboys and yet a touch of the gentile. The ending sets the reader up with a foreshadowing of another Lucy Thompson story and one that would be just as entertaining as this one.


Monday, May 9, 2016

The Madonna of Pisano by MaryAnn Diorio

(TopNotch Press 2015) 

MaryAnn Diorio uncovers a deeply moving story of how sin can fester and unravel lives. Though the sin that was brought upon Maria was not her own, she harbored for seven long years vengeance against the one who destroyed her life and dreams.

As a teen, my favorite novel from school was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This novel by Diorio is a new, fresh retelling of the age-old tale.

Don Franco learns that sin, no matter how hard you deny it or try to keep it quiet, will rear its ugly head to wreak havoc upon a soul and body. Whereas Luca realizes that sin can disguise itself in the least suspecting of souls. And Maria learns that freedom comes with true forgiveness through the Grace of God.

The Madonna of Pisano brought to life not only the world of religious corruption, but also an inside look at Catholicism--even priests are human--, but also the hypocrisy of a small village. 

As Maria states: You believed a priest over a woman. A pastor over a violated parishioner. A so-called saint over a so-called sinner.

Those words hit hard, for we all are guilty to some degree of that accusation.

Diorio is also able to weave symbolism throughout. The sparrow and the crow come to mind; as does the storm which is no respecter to anyone in its destruction.

So natural was the faith in the story, the reader will feel the conviction and the freedom that God brings to the characters.

This a complex and inspirational book that is character driven in its content. I look forward to more about Bella Terra and more from MaryAnn Diorio. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Wake the Dead by Victoria Buck

Wake the Dead
(Pelican Book Group 2014) 

 You read the title and wonder, "What will this book be about?". The title, Wake the Dead, has a dual meaning. One: wake as in resuscitate a person, who either died or fainted, and two: wake a person who is dead in Christ.

In the not so impossible future, transhumanism becomes a concept. The constitution is gone. Government controls all: people, economy, entertainment, etc. But as with all control and absolute power, there are those who rebel and who will fight back.

Chase believed in his illusion of the life he led, until it was taken away from his perceived control. Then it became a battle of will, of his mind and body, and of his soul.

Throughout the book I ran into symbolism and truth. Truth about what can happen and what probably would happen in our future based on our society now. This book is a wake up call in fiction form. 

And fine form it is. It held me captive; with bated breath I kept pushing myself well into the night to read; and I cried at the loss and raw emotion portrayed.

There is nothing that can be said about how wonderfully well written this futuristic book is. Nothing can describe how much of an impact it makes. I can tear it apart, analyze it piece by piece and still find new elements within. It will give a reader pure enjoyment and deep thought. It is eye-opening.

The development in the character was a natural progression. At times he did things that appalled me (the cat for instance, but I keep hoping he used one of his abilities to give people that perception) and at times he surprised me.

If you haven't read Wake the Dead, please purchase a copy soon. It is an amazing book.