Thursday, September 29, 2016

Highlights from the 2016 Year

As the year winds down to a close I've decided to post books that have impacted me and made the long list of the Top Ten of 2016. With only two more review months left of 2016, will these books remain on the list? Read the Top Ten of 2016 post in December and find out. Until then, enjoy a few highlights of wonderful books and talented authors! 


January Highlights:

The Story of the Other Wise Man
~Henry van Dyke
"And his gifts were accepted by his King."
 
Caged Dove
~Andrea Rodgers
"How we must not let those parts of ourselves become caged."
 
February Highlights:
 
Of Moose and Men
~Torry Martin/Doug Peterson
"God doesn't want perfect people. He wants us."
 
  Counted with the Stars
~Connilyn Cossette
"Inspiring tale set in the lush land of Ancient Egypt."
 
April Highlights:
 
Summer's Flame
~Wendy Davy
"Two people had to trust in God and in each other."

Wake the Dead
~Victoria Buck
"a wake-up call in fiction form"
 
May Highlights:
 
The Madonna of Pisano
~MaryAnn Diorio
"A new, fresh retelling of the age-old tale."
 
Surrender to Peace
~Rose Allen McCauley
"Sweet and simple love story about surrendering your heart."
 
June, July, & August Highlights:
 
Vanquished 
~Katie Clark
"It is a time of Greaters, Middles, and Lessers, until that time is challenged by a few."
 
The Occupied
~Craig Parshall
"Solid book of mystery, thrills, passion, hope, and above all, love."
 
September Highlights:
 
The 17
~Clint Kelly
"I am the Lord's Servant. May it be to me as you have said."
 
Lightning on a Quiet Night
~Donn Taylor
"The town and its people learn a valuable lesson in love, forgiveness, and humility."
 
 
I hope you enjoyed reading a little about these books and hopefully you'll check out the titles. There are more to come....

 
 

 
 

  

 
  
 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette

Shadow of the Storm
by
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 GregorySo

Slender Reeds:
Jochebed's Hope
by
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*** 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Crossing the Waters by Leslie Leyland Fields

Crossing the Waters
by
Leslie Leyland Fields
(NavPress 2016)

I did like this book. But I found it disjointed in writing style which made for a difficult read.
At times I could not connect enough with the author to understand what she was trying to impart to me as a reader. I could not image Israel, since I've never been, and the description was lacking in some areas, but there were many passages that describe what I may never see in this lifetime. After a while I could picture the areas she visited.

As for the visits in Israel, I found at times that she was judgemental of the people, but this humanized her. Showed me that even Christians can judge based on what we see. And how she handles this discovery of herself is with grace and humility.

Her trials, while maybe not as severe as what many people have experienced, were still challenging trials that helps connect the reader to the passages and stories she uses.

What I loved the most? The stories of Alaska.

Her use of Biblical scripture and real life, meshing and weaving them together, created a net that would capture and reader and hold them there.

It was an enjoyable book. And one that would stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

*** I was provided a copy of the book through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange of a complete and honest review*** 

Discipling as Jesus Discipled by Dann Spader

Discipling as Jesus Discipled
7 Disciplines of a Disciplemaker
by
Dann Spader 
(Moody Publishers 2016) 

I found this book to be challenging, and yet rewarding. Even after I read through it, scanned the pages, and started the workbook, I'm still wading through it. I'm not a pastor, a bible study/school teacher, nor a missionary so I find these lessons to be difficult, but that is the way with learning.

The one thing I would suggest is that this book be used in a group or with a study-buddy. The questions are extremely challenging and designed to make the reader dig deeper into his or herself to find answer. Each portion gives an insight into the Bible, most times something that has never before been acknowledged.

As I learn and delve into the book, I find myself growing stronger in my faith and what it really means to follow Jesus.

I definitely recommend this book to all Christians, youth groups, bible study groups, and training workshops, etc.

***I was given this book through the Moody blogger program in exchange of an honest review***
 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Lightning on a Quiet Night by Donn Taylor

Lightning on a Quiet Night
by
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
by
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***  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

You're the One That I Want by Susan May Warren

You're the One That I Want
by
Susan May Warren
(Tyndale 2016) 

This is a book that kept me riveted. 
As the finale of the Christiansen saga, there was not better book than that of the youngest son, Owen.


Owen is the bad boy, the broken and wounded character, the prodigal son. The relationship between him and Casper is deepened in how they made amends and reconciled, but more importantly is the story between Owen and Scotty and how they help each other to heal. 

This isn't a simple story. Owen left a lot of broken pieces in his wake. But throughout this book we can see the depth of Owen's soul and life; and his impetuousness. 

Of all the books, I found the stories of Casper (Always on My Mind) and Owen (You're the One That I Want) my favorites. Two brothers who are so much alike and yet so different. 

I would definitely recommend any reader to begin the Christiansen saga. Maybe you'll find your favorite sibling along the way. 

***I received this book 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
by
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
by
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
by
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***