Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Top 10 of 2017 on RBR

I'm ending this blog early this year, but I would like for you to check out these wonderful books. They will make great gifts and these are ones that I wholly recommend!

By the way, I'm in the process of reading a few more great books; so, be on the look-out come January for these wonderful stories!

This year, I'm dividing the top 10 into genres, with one special bonus book at the end. (total of 11, so this is contrary to my title) 

In no particular order nor ranking:


Love Him Anyway by Abby Banks

Abby Banks wrote a book of raw honesty and a look into the life of a Christian parent. We all struggle with feelings of selfishness and unselfishness, that duel between anger and love, and the ping-pong effect between bitterness and praise. 

Young Adult

The Delusion by Laura Gallier  
"My stories are twisted and bizarre--and so terrifying that I'm sometimes told to shut up a few minutes into them--but I can't."

So by this prologue begins a strange and weird tale told by Owen Edmonds.

Mission of a Lifetime by Priscilla J. Krahn
Set in the jungles of Columbia, Willie is determined to find his parents, but at what cost? From the many hazards of the jungle to the dangers of an organized cartel, Willie has to make spur of the moments decisions and still be able to stay true to his faith.
Shadowed Eden by Katie Clark 
Katie Clark takes that "what-if we could" and spins an entrancing story about The Garden of Eden.
The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck
Nothing smells as peaceful or as refreshing as the smell of falling rain.
And no other chick-lit book seems as refreshing as Billerbeck's The Scent of Rain.
A Cowboy's Dare by Lucy Thompson
Pair headstrong and proper Jane Montgomery, the mayor's daughter, with stubborn and gritty Tyrone Harding, owner of Female-free Adventures, and you have a volatile reaction.


Why Did You Choose Me? by Katie Cruice Smith
With an easy and flowing cadence, it expressed some of the major questions adopted children would ask a parent. These questions are posed beautifully and in a way for a child to understand his or her uniqueness.

Bella Gets Rescued by Ellie Wakeman
Bella Gets Rescued has an underlying message to us all: we should not fear. The parallel of being lost to Christ and then found is a major theme in this children's book.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bible Promises to Live by for Women

Bible Promises to Live by For Women
Katherine J. Butler, Ronald A. Beers

The golden embossed linen textured book is compact enough to carry on your travels, to work, to school, in your purse, etc.

The small devotionals take only moments to read. Each have a variety of scripture for reference.

I found many of the chapters to be exactly what I needed. One such chapter was about Helplessness. With compassion and insight, the words lifted my spirit and gave me that added boost I needed in my daily meditation.

This is a perfect gift for any women, young and old.

***I was given a copy by Tyndale Blog Network in exchange of an honest review*** 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fischer

Jean Fischer
(Thomas Nelson 2017)

Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fischer is the perfect board book to introduce a toddler up to a young reader to well known Bible stories.

Many of the Old Testament stories include Genesis' story of creation, Noah, Abraham, and Moses; David, Daniel, and Jonah. After Jonah, the young reader reads about Jesus' birth.

One of the things I liked about this story is the inclusion of "The Lost Sheep". This parable told by Jesus is often overlooked, but one of the best stories for children to learn. I have a soft spot for Mark 4:39, so it was my utter delight to see the chapter "Jesus Calms the Sea". The classic "loaves and fish", plus the story of his crucifixion and resurrection was next.

The book wraps up nicely with "Jesus Lives" and the commandment to go and spread the Good News!

The sturdy book will withstand even the toughest of little hands. This is a children's Bible story book that I highly recommend. And the Precious Moments illustrations really bring the stories to life.

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***
***I received this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange of an honest review*** 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

Laura Gallier
(Tyndale 2017)

"My stories are twisted and bizarre--and so terrifying that I'm sometimes told to shut up a few minutes into them--but I can't."

So by this prologue begins a strange and weird tale told by Owen Edmonds.

Owen starts off as an agnostic. We see that he is basically a good boy, someone who strives to do what is best, even though he comes from a broken home. He has friends that at times can be good, but for the most part are self-absorbed and vain.

Just one moment of curiosity, the want to know more information, the need to have his questions answered, Owen takes a risk and the consequences send him into a supernatural existence. Now he can see demons and angels. He can see the shackles and chains that bound people to sin. And he can see the light of those who have been freed of their chains by their belief in Jesus Christ.

The book is told in first person. The reader falls headlong into teenage thoughts and emotions, experiencing them. We see his illogical actions, his rash judgements, and ultimately his surrender and maturity.

It takes skill to pull off the true portrayal of a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. And Laura Gallier does this extremely well.

The novel is dark, but like any tunnel, there is light at the end. With each chapter the stage is set into more complex acts, each building upon the other, until the finale. The character, Owen, grows with each chapter, learning humility and love.

Fair warning to readers, there are instances of scenes describing the horrific descent into hell. In one scene, it had nothing to do with the girl's suicide, but everything to do with her lost soul. 

The story is sound in Scripture, which is surprising to find in Young Adult novels. There is no apology for beliefs. There is no sugar coating the horror. And this is what makes it a great Christian Thriller. It is a battle of light and dark. The power of what prayer can do. And all told through the eyes of a teenager who is just beginning to learn the truth about what he is seeing.

Even the title has a deeper meaning: the delusion is believing that you don't need Jesus Christ in your life.

Thoroughly thought-provoking, I could see this as a youth group read and discussion. An extremely well-written novel and one that I do not want to part with, other than handing it over to my teenage son.

***click on the title for the option to purchase the book***
***I received this novel from Tyndale in exchange of an honest review*** 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Gift of Heaven by Charles Stanley

Charles Stanley
(Thomas Nelson 2017)

This isn't a devotional or a coffee-table style mini book. What it is, is a book that gives detailed descriptions and answers, according to Scripture, about heaven.

Many people often wonder about Heaven. Who will be there? Will we eat? Will we know anyone? What does it look like? Where is Heaven?

In the short 10 chapters, Charles Stanley answers each. Whereas, not all questions can be answered because we lack the information, he does provide a satisfactory answer to those unanswerable questions.

Complimenting the pages are beautiful photography, each showing a bountiful heaven on earth and underscoring that Heaven will be even more beautiful and glorious.

Charles Stanley doesn't rely on only one version/translation. He uses 6 translations throughout the book: New American Standard, English Standard Version, New International Version, New King James Version, New Living Translation, The Living Bible.

The Gift of Heaven makes a wonderful gift and a little treasure to keep.

***Click on the title for the option to purchase a copy***
***I received this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange of an honest review*** 

Regarding Tiberius by Bartholomew Boge


As I read this story, a tribute to Louis L'Amour and Lew Wallace, John Bunyan and Henry van Dyke, I imagined it to be bound in cloth hardback and smelling of history.

Anachronisms in the novel gave Regarding Tiberius a distinct Shakespearean flair. Like Shakespeare, the novel contains some 16th century words, some that can be found in the King James Bible; although, nowadays these words are considered crass.

Other words used, although in proper format isn't considered vulgar, when used as an oath or epithet it becomes vulgar and shouldn't be found in Christian literature.

If not for these words, which many readers of Christian fiction may find offensive, the novel would be a strong Christian historical tale. As it is, it's a well-written and highly engrossing historical novel with Christian themes.

Various cultures, aligning with history, and a true portrayal of the Roman Empire adds to the dusty and timeless adventure.

With a regal Nubian princess and an austere Roman soldier who is also the son of a Senator, the reader travels the lands of the vast Roman Empire, from the Mesopotamia to Tyre to Jerusalem.

History and imagination meld into a seamless tale of love, revenge, loyalty, and ultimately sacrifice.

Regarding Tiberius isn't a novel you will easily forget. Its layers of truth will cling to the reader long after the last word by Helena is written.  

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy through Amazon***  

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck

Kristin Billerbeck
(Thomas Nelson 2012)

1: I want this book so that I can read it time and time again. (I borrowed a copy from the Marion Public Library).

2: The main character's name is Daphne. The perfect name, in my opinion.

3: The smell of rain is my favorite scent. Nothing smells as peaceful or as refreshing as the smell of falling rain.

And no other chick-lit book seems as refreshing as Billerbeck's The Scent of Rain. The main character was an utter delight: smart, sassy, and sensitive.
The Christian aspects were natural and authentic.
The pace never bogged down or seemed rushed.
To me, this became the ultimate Christian Chick-lit romance novel.

By the time I turned that last page I was smiling and felt as though all cares were taken from me. And that is how a book is suppose to make you feel!  

***Click on the title for the option to purchase a copy*** 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore

Crisis Shot
Janice Cantore
(Tyndale 2017)

I've tried many of Janice Cantore's books in hopes that I would find one that I could like and read. Unfortunately,  this one was not the book. 

Although I found this book difficult to immerse myself into and where I found myself speed reading quite a few paragraphs, I realize that this could be a good book for many people. 

I didn't like the pages and pages of backstory and description of who the character was and what had happened to them previously. There were a lot of repetition throughout. And at one point the "oh, my ---" phrase was used. It was used in Spanish, but still, many readers would take that as using God's name in vain.

The pace was steady. The writing style solid and at times intense. After three books I think I can say this author isn't for me. But I would tell readers who are looking for a good police story within the Christian market should give Janice Cantore a try. You might like her books.  

***I received a copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange of an honest review***

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson

Fatal Trust
Todd M. Johnson
(Bethany House 2017)

This was a book that took me a while to read. Not because of layers upon layers of plots or because of the writing style, but it was more of an interest factor for me.

While I do like some legal thrillers, and this one did remind me quite a bit of a Grisham novel, there were technical issues that kept me from truly enjoying the novel. The flashbacks, told in memory format, were quite irritating. It would bog the story down. In my opinion, it could have been handled in a brief summary or through dialogue. But pages and pages of memory lane tended to become old and boring.

At one point of the book, a scene with a clerk was used to alert us to crisp, old money. Of course this wouldn't be a strange occurrence, but it seemed out of place. And even the following scene of the man spying on the clerk to gain the passwords. These scenes more thrown in and not developed. A portion to explain a why, which I think did matter.

The ploys used in the book were the same old routine used in other books and movies: set a file aside and forget it, narrowly missing running into a bad guy, bad cop-good cop routine, etc.

I think I was hoping for a fresher take on a legal thriller. While it may not have been the best story I read, it was an okay read and I'm sure there are many Grisham fans who would love to read this story.

***I was provided a copy from Bethany Publishers in exchange of an honest review*** 

Blink by S.A. Jewell

S.A. Jewell
(Ambassador International 2017)

Many cons and pros to this book. I'm going to start with the cons.

I did find some political leanings in the book; they were slight and only eyebrow arching worthy.

I will have to say that the beginning was strong. Although the point of view was old school (omniscient), and at times I forgot which character the scene was devoted to; because of it the point of view became jumbled. If the author had stuck with one way, either single point of view per scene or constant omniscient, the scenes would have flowed better.

Another thing was the constant history info dump. Almost two pages (Kindle-wise) devoted to a history lesson on the EU (European Union). Another on a man's resume and why he had that particular job and why he was able to get that job. There were more, but these two really stuck in my head. To me, it was an extremely low blow to a reader's intelligence. In my opinion, and in the professional opinion, it should have been worked into the story somehow through dialogue--even if by using the "dumb puppet" method. This was a constant throughout the book.

Blink read like a condensed story of the Jenkins/LaHaye series. The descriptions of the atrocities were glossed over; there were no emotional depth to the characters; the antichrist (Super Dux seemed a silly name) seemed more pompous than evil.

Instead of telling the events in a rushed format, I would have preferred that the author had shown the horror and terror these people were feeling.

While I may think this was not a good adult book, it is an excellent Young Adult/New Adult novel.

The format and structure is on the level of a young adult. The long history soundbytes wouldn't come off as irritating or an affront to the reader. I think it would be highly enjoyed by young adult readers. They would not need detailed scenes of what would/could happen.

For anyone who prefers books that are low on horrific details and light on emotional impact, but still be able to convey truth and hope, then Blink would be a recommended read.

***click on the title for the option to purchase the book*** 
***I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*** 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Swipe Right by Levi Lusko

Swipe Right
Levi Lusko
(Thomas Nelson 2017) 

The play on words with the title, Swipe Right, relates to the Tinder dating app. This is more of a "Me" generation thing; so reading this book, I can see that the audience is the teens and upwards to the mid-20's.

With so much sexual immorality that has become a blight on this world, this book not only shows why a young person should wait before having sex, but also shows how it is never too late to rededicate yourself to purity. Levi Lusko doesn't mince words or try to sugar coat so not to affront someone's delicate sensibilities. He is matter of fact, using language of the modern culture, and still he plays hard ball with a sensitive topic.

The Holy Bible is his guide and he doesn't deviate from it. All he writes is written in love, even if it does sound harsh sometimes.

Older people may not benefit from this as much; although, there are some really good points to note when it comes to relationships.

I would definitely recommend this for youth groups and for the younger adult groups. 

***click on the title for the option to purchase the book***
***I received this book through BookLook Bloggers in exchange of an honest review***  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Why Did You Choose Me? by Katie Cruice Smith

Katie Cruice Smith
(Ambassador International 2017)  

From time to time I come across a great children's book. Lately my publisher has been dishing out quite a few great Christian books for children, which is a blessed relief.

Of those books Katie Cruice Smith wrote a book about adoption. Not about how to adopt, or when to adopt, or the process of adoption. She wrote about the heart of adoption: what a child may ask his or her parent. 
Why did you choose me?

This was an interesting children's picture book. With an easy and flowing cadence, it expressed some of the major questions adopted children would ask a parent. These questions are posed beautifully and in a way for a child to understand his or her uniqueness.

My favorite part is actually the end of the mother's reply: "Do you think that Mama chose you? It was no choice for me. From the moment that I saw you, I had found my sweet baby." 

This epitomizes the unconditional love a mother has for HER child. One of the most beautiful children's story, Why Did You Choose Me? is a book that I will recommend time and time again.

***Click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***
***I was given an ARC copy by Ambassador International to read and to post an honest review.***

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hearts of Fire by The Voice of the Martyrs

The Voice of the Martyrs
( The VOM Books 2015)

God will call anyone He chooses and these women prove that sometimes one must step up, be strong, and stand firm for Christ.
I shared this book on Facebook, urging others to read it. Here's my post: 
Voice of the Martyrs: this book is something I encourage everyone to read it. It will open your eyes about those who suffer for Christ. It will open your eyes to other religions who persecuted Christians (Islam, Hindu, Buddhism and various other tribal beliefs). It will rewrite your heart and soul and show you the true meaning of following Christ.
Even though these testimonies will span the decades, you will see similarities to today's culture and society as it were decades ago.
Instead of spending your money on a cola and junk food or even that lazy day when you purchase fast food; put off buying that shirt or shoes; take a small portion (only $12) out of your vacation fund; make a sacrifice and buy this book.
Don't be afraid to have your heart rewritten by God. This is one book that will give you hope and faith.

What more can I say than that? Sure I could break this down, talk about excerpts that stood out in my mind, and other virtues, but it would never be enough. What I posted on Facebook say it all: it will rewrite your heart and strengthen your hope and faith.

***Click on the title to purchase a copy of the book*** 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bella Gets Rescued by Ellie Wakeman

(Ambassador International 2017) 

This is a cute story. Cat owners can relate to the behaviour that is seen in many of our pets and these behaviours are brought to life in the small story of Bella Gets Rescued.

The illustrations were soft and eye catching, a sure win for those little readers who delight in stories that are able to be told through the pictures. Not too long that it will lose the attention of the young reader and not too short that it rushes the story, this book is a perfect balance for a little child.

What's more is that Bella Gets Rescued has an underlying message to us all: we should not fear.
The parallel of being lost to Christ and then found is a major theme in this children's book.

I see this as a great Sunday School lesson, a homeschool lesson, or as an entertaining read that will stick with the little ones as they grow. Lessons of love, acceptance, patience, and thankfulness will gain a foothold all because of this beautiful little story.

This is a children's book that I can greatly recommend and I look forward to presenting it to my niece on her birthday. 

***click on the title to purchase a copy of the book***

Friday, July 7, 2017

Every Job a Parable by John Van Sloten

Every Job a Parable
What Walmart Greeters, Nurses & Astronauts
Tell Us About God
John Van Sloten
(NavPress 2017)

Again, it is rare that I find a book that just doesn't suit me. I'm honor bound to write a review, and although this isn't a negative review, per se, it is a review that is honest about what I thought of Every Job a Parable.

When I read about this book, read the blurb on the back, and the description I thought it would be how jobs, whether blue collar or white collar, can be a parable in Christian living. How awesome to see how a person's everyday living can be a testimony and how awesome that the author took the time to talk to these people....I was mistaken.

This wasn't a book that I expected it to be. The author expounds upon these jobs by relating what he had observed and then creating a sermon from it.

Some of the vocations mentioned were not what I would call a vocation and some of the "parables" seemed as though he really had to strive and stretch to make a point. Also, when he started writing about the seven deadly sins, I stopped reading.

All sins are deadly; and no sin is worse than another. Sin is sin. And although he does point this out, in a way of speaking, I realized that this isn't a book for me.

I don't know if I would recommend it. The writing seemed disjointed and the book seemed as though I was reading a very long, expansive sermon.

I do appreciate Tyndale Publishers for providing me a chance to read this book. I do hope that it will benefit other readers. 

***I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange of an honest review*** 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter
(Thomas Nelson 2017)

This book struck a balance between the pros and cons. In my opinion, although the writing was solid, there were instances where delivery of the art was lacking.

Denise Hunter, in the vein of Song of Solomon, portrayed the sensuality and physical attraction between a married couple. Although these two were in the process of finalizing the divorce, the attraction was still there. The author toed the line (according to Christian fiction standards), never quite stepping over it, when it came to describe the lust, love, and attraction between the characters. There might have been one instance where a reader would say that God's name was taken in vain, but it depends on how the sentence is read.

The faith wasn't as strong in Sweetbriar Cottage as it were in her earlier books. Gladly, there were no more usage of mildly crude language that had appeared in some previous works.

Denise Hunter handled a very sensitive topic well, although I had wished for a little more depth to the subject. To me, a reader needed to know that Josephine's past attack was what spurred her behavior all those years prior to her relationship with Noah. We see a little bit of it in the masterfully way the author handled the flashbacks; but, I felt as though the reader needed to see more of her brokenness in order to understand her doubts and fears.

The one pet peeve that I had with the book was the use of "much obliged". I have never known a late 20s to mid 30s (not even a 40s) Southern man or woman use the term "much obliged". Even though it's Southern, that phrase has fallen out of favor and usage. Thankfully, it stopped before the halfway point.

I will say this about Sweetbriar Cottage: I liked the way the book was written. The story, although predictable, was a great way to show that faith in following God and exercising forgiveness. Not all stories are what they seem. There's always more to it, and this book is no exception. The style was more reminiscent of the older way of writing books, and that sometimes took the emotional impact away.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. The sensuality is nothing to be ashamed of in this book. It showed the beauty of a married couple who still loved each other. I wouldn't recommend it to a younger teenager, though.

For a while I stopped reading Denise Hunter's books, but this one may have opened the gate to reading a few more. 

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***
***I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange of an honest review*** 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Divide by Jolina Petersheim

The Divide (The Alliance #2)
Jolina Petersheim 
(Tyndale 2017)

This is one of those rare times where I really enjoyed the book and where the pros barely overrode the cons.

I'll start with the cons in this second installment of The Alliance story. The insertion of Sal's POV seemed more of a storyline crutch than any added value. Sure it helped knowing the "other side" of what was happening, but it could have been approached differently in my opinion. The four/five times that the POV was used compared to the alternating POVs of Moses and Lenora was jarring and inconsistent.

The first two thirds of the books seemed draggy, and took a while for things to happen. It did become a chore to read at first. And the last negative point about this book would be the abrupt transition from one scene to another. The first book handled it smoothly, but in The Divide, no matter whose POV, the scene breaks jarred me a little out of the story until I could visualize what was happening to be able to immerse myself into the book again.

As for the positive elements, there are many. The faith element, while strong, was never overpowering. It developed naturally. The doubts, fears, hope, and triumphs gave an eerily authentic feel to the story. Each chapter led me down a path of the story that was captivating and I hungered for the next chapter to see what happened. The last third of the book the pace really picked up. There was one instance where it seemed convenient, but as I looked back, the clues were there, hidden in the dialogue exchange between Moses and Josh.

The story isn't about the EMP, or what happens to society afterwards. It is an intimate look at two lives, from two separate lifestyles, but with the same faith. What do they decided to do? What stand do they make?

This is a solid and satisfying ending to the story of Moses and Lenora. There were no sudden happily ever afters for everyone. There were no convenient endings or solutions. What this book offered was a realistic, enjoyable, and thought provoking story that can be read again and again. And each time, I am sure there will be something new to take away from the reading.  

***I was provided a copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange of an honest review***
***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***

Monday, May 29, 2017

God's Lineup by Kevin and Elizabeth Morrisey

Kevin and Elizabeth Morrisey
(Ambassador International 2012)  

Any major league sport will have a devoted fan base and even the players themselves will view their chosen sport as the most important thing in life.

In God's Lineup, we are exposed to the raw faith of 26 Christian players who are either retired or actively playing.

As in many areas of life, Christians can be ridiculed and baseball is no exception; although MLB does have what is called Baseball Chapel. We are shown through a few testimonies how this ministry became a pivotal point in many players' lives.

The testimonies contained in this book doesn't lessen the masculinity of the men, but instead it fortifies the uniqueness of each and how they yearn to spread the Gospel.

Like the Topps, Fleer, and Upper Deck baseball cards, each chapter has a take on the player highlights, but geared toward their faith: born, favorite verses, saved, positions, team, school, drafted, debut, seasons, teams, etc. At the bottom is the baseball stats. This added dimension gives the book a stronger authenticity to baseball.

I feel as though readers will find this book as an uplifting alternative to a biography or devotional. For baseball fanatics, it would be a much recommended gift.

Successful career or unsuccessful career, retired or active, this book shows, as Stephen Drew said: "We're here for a reason, and that's to glorify His name."

Ben Zobrist sums it completely: "I owe everything in my life to Christ because I would have nothing without Him."

This uplifting book is one that is hard to put down and one to keep always--a great book of testimonies. 

***click on the title for the option to purchase the book*** 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Scientists Discover God by William Davis

William Dallas
(Ambassador International/Ambassador Books and Media 2012)

This book from across "the pond" is one that melds Christian faith and science. Written in layman terms, William Dallas takes sciences such as quantum physics, quantum theory, natural selection, geography, etc. to show that many discoveries (past and present) and theories prove the existence of God.

For one example: The Big Bang Theory states that nothing existed beforehand and yet science proves that nothing can be created from nothing.

The first third of the book cites many sources, secular and faith, to set up his argument. The second third explains the Christian faith. The last portion concluded with a merge of the two.

Being a nerd in all things dealing with the universe, quantum theory and physics, etc., I found this book ideal for an introduction into the deep topic, and a controversial one. It was thought provoking and informative, a highly recommended read for the curious. 

***click on the title for the option to purchase an ebook edition of the book***

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mists of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

(Howard Books 2015)

I've always enjoyed reading novels by Daphne du Maurier and Georgette Heyer. Sandra Byrd takes the same theme and style from them and then makes it her own.

This is this first book I have read by Sandra Byrd, and it won't be the last. I was intrigued by Rebecca's plight. Englishwomen have a certain attitude and disposition that she must adhere to, and Sandra Byrd pulls this off extremely well.

The mystery is something that is slowly built into a vibrating tension. The red herrings and misdirection adds to the complex plot. The romance within grows slowly, with hesitation.

Since this is the daughter of missionaries, member of the nonconforming church, and faith is a mainstay to her character, the reliance upon God's direction is a steady and natural part of the story.

As for the details in the setting, Byrd uses flashbacks within the book by incorporating them as sudden surges of memories. It's almost like watching a Masterpiece Theater movie where the character's thoughts are pulled back into the past and the viewer sees a portion of their lives before the person they are talking to regains their attention. This writing technique has been sorely lost to literature until now. How nice to see it in a book.

There are many small, intricate threads to this book, foreshadowing, motifs, and clues, that it would take a while to pull each apart and examine them. But why unravel a beautiful book such as this?

The ending is what really has me smiling. If I look back throughout the story, the hints were there, but to see it fulfilled at the end: it is a surprise to say the least.

Overall, this book is exceptional and has become a favorite that I will revisit. A great Gothic novel that rivals many of the past masters.

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book*** 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Amish Firefighter by Laura V. Hilton

Laura V. Hilton
(Whitaker 2016) 

After reading The Post Card and enjoying David and Rachel's story, I looked forward to reading more about Sam Miller, especially since his scene at the end of the story.

He is a passionate and reckless man. Abigail is a sweet and bewildered woman, one who feels as though she wasn't loved, not even by God. Sam, on the other hand, approaches his relationship with God just as he approaches a fire that must be fought, with head-on abandon.

Throughout the book, I saw Sam mature into a beautiful and devout man; while, Abigail became more self-assured and willing to trust God with her future.

The story kept me reading up to about the end, and then it seemed rushed. I wished for a little bit more at the end to really keep the emotion high, instead of letting it peter off into a mild and sedate feeling.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. I did wish for a little more of the firefighting or at least more of it referenced. The title is befitting of Sam's personality, though. I did wish for more of an interaction between Abigail and her "new family", but all-in-all the book was quite satisfying.

And since I don't read hardly any Amish books, that is saying something if a book can keep me glued to the sentences until the very end.

***click on the title for an option to purchase a copy of the book*** 

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

 (Tyndale 2016)

 This was different than what I expected. Compared to other books I have read where the break down of society was evident either through an EMP or dollar collapse, this book ranks high.

The present tense first person narrative was refreshing and it
seemed to center me in the story and see it through the eyes of Moses and Leora. This is their story. It doesn't matter the cause of what happened. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world is doing or the pursuit to find out. What matters in this story is how they will survive. How does two people from two separate faiths work together for the good of the community?

Moses believes, but he has PTSD. He cannot reconcile his faith with his past.
Leora believes, but she has to be in control. She cannot reconcile her past with her Mennonite faith.

Somewhere along the line they learn about trust and compromise, but above all how to have faith that God will provide.

The symbolism of Moses' name was not lost to me as this pilot who crashed into the Mennonite community leads them to safety.

Whenever I read Leora's account I could see the conflict and confusion within her. Her past scarred her and it colors her decisions. 

Jolina Petersheim portrayed through the eyes of two people thrown into the unknown an accurate assumption of society's downfall. The only negative remark I can make is that I wished for a little more detail in some of the actions and scenes. I felt they were "glossed over" too much and didn't provide a reality like the rest of the book. Overall, it was well written, engaging, and makes the next book a much anticipated read.  

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler

(Bethany House 2009)

This may be an older book, and it think it was a book published before its time. The dialogue and present tense of the character was refreshing and authentic.

Alice Wisler was able to portray that back and forth emotional state of someone who is sad and brokenhearted. A plus to her character was how she was able to insert an unique and beautiful personality into the story. Deena's emotions, thoughts, and behaviour was truly an accurate portrayal of many people who are like Deena. The slightly sarcastic humour, the truthfulness about jealous, unforgiveness, and self-deprecation are many things that many people read. 

How many times do we pause in a chore or such because a memory is brought forth? Alice Wisler uses this to her advantage for Deena and the reader is able to learn more about what happened in the past. A very good utilization of that skill.

The romance isn't the main story. Deena is attracted to Zack, but she doesn't pursue Zack. And because we are reading first person, the reader will discover things along with Deena. This is an intimate journey into healing and finding love, which isn't always in the place you expect.

The faith element is subtle and completely natural in the narrative. It wasn't preachy, nor in-your-face, but a gentle wave that flows throughout Deena's life as we read.

This is the first book I read by Alice Wisler and it quickly became an ultimate favorite. The writing style was magnificent and this is a definitely recommended read.

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock

(Zondervan 2017)

If you haven't read If I Run, that's okay, but you would lose a little bit of the story and some parts of this book wouldn't make sense.  I like books that run in a trilogy where book two picks up where book one left off, and book three picks up immediately after two. (Waiting patiently for book three).

Terri Blackstock delivers another wonderful story that kept me reading into the early morning hours and turning the pages to see what would happen. With If I'm Found, the small story plot that Casey finds herself involved in isn't as intimate as the previous book. She is more of that outside observer who makes a difference through secondary resources.

Again, I am enjoying a character who is feminine and yet not helpless. Casey Cox is portrayed as a strong Southern woman who doesn't cower before an adversary. I can't help but feel my heart speed up with every close call.

Dylan is a man I'm beginning to admire greatly. His own shortcomings make me more human and real to me. He isn't this chiseled, perfect specimen swooping in to save the damsel. He's a man of God determined to bring justice to the wrongs committed.

Terri Blackstock also portrays the mind of a soulless man well without giving in to compromise and using vulgar or coarse language. This heightens the tension of the story and gives it an elevation that made me read faster and spurred me on this suspenseful journey.

If I'm Found superseded If I Run. And I'm extremely excited, but still willing to be patient, to read the next installment and see how the story will conclude. As always, another great book by a truly wonderful author. 

***Click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book*** 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Redemption by M.L. Tyndall

The Redemption
M.L. Tyndall
(Barbour 2006) 

I'm always on the look-out for a good pirate story.

M.L. Tyndall delivered a great pirate turned privateer novel. While the action scenes and character interactions in The Redemption kept me riveted, there were pros and cons to the book.

The book had well developed characters, ones that grew and changed over the course of the story. The plot allowed for a little leeway in how a pirate could be a Christian. He became a privateer hired to root out the enemy ships and "relieve" them of their cargo. This made sense for the mid 1600's when Britain and Spain were at war and Jamaica was a crossroads for them in the Caribbean.

Historical facts were evident. The setting strong and detailed. The fights scenes, although not as detailed as I would have liked, were not glossed over and watered down.

The things that bothered me most about the story were these: the heavy handedness of Scripture. I wished for a more natural occurrence. The Stockholm-type syndrome developed by Charlisse over Merrick seemed too contrived. The immediate reversal of Edward without anything leading up to his salvation was too abrupt. A little bit of a tidying up at the end made the story seemed rushed. Some of the fighting was too watered down. There was one instance that had me scratching my head over whether or not the word would be considered cussing. I'm still debating on that point.

Overall, I really liked the story. I like how Merrick understood that even though he was a Christian, there were times when he had to kill to protect others. His fight against temptation and his old self was thoroughly developed and shown, showing that although he had changed, his past still presented a problem. Charlisse started off strong, capable, and even daring despite her small stature and her abusive past. Toward the end of the book her character became weaker and helpless. I missed the spunk and orneriness of her character from the beginning of the book.

This was a good pirate, or in this case privateer, novel. The oscillating emotions and actions of the characters kept them more human than sugar-coated characters in most other novels. 

***This review is of the 2006 edition. It has since been republished by Ransom Press in 2014 and I do not know if any content or wording had been changed.***  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tainted by Morgan L. Busse

(Enclave 2016)

When I had the chance to obtain Tainted and read it, I jumped at the chance. Morgan Busse delighted me with her Follower of the Word series, and I looked forward to her new steampunk book.

I love steampunk. From Jules Verne to movies like Wild, Wild West and Sherlock Holmes (which is slightly more steampunky than most SH shows), I enjoy that mesh of steam powered technology and Western/Victorian setting.

Morgan Busse created a new world and immersed the reader right into the story. Without using prologue or backstory, she was able to span the course of two years without any hitches. I really got to know the characters well before the real conflicts started.

It's not only steampunk, but also a taste of the supernatural. This makes Tainted even extra unique. And I love unique books!

Her characters leave you with a whirlwind of emotions: excitement, anxiousness, joy, and curiosity. One brought out an emotion, and the other brought out a different emotion, spurring me to flip that page to see what would happen.

The twists in the book were enough to keep me engrossed and at times with a Malcolm Reynold's reaction of "huh", I did not see that coming.

I look forward to reading the next book. I have a feeling about some of those characters and who they actually might be. And I need to know more about the other land. 

*** click on the book title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. by Susan Page Davis/James Davis

(Tea Tin Press 2016)

I've been excited about typing this review and at the same time hesitant. How can I do it justice? This was an exceptional book and quickly became one of my most favorites. 

For quite a while I've been on the look-out for a good pirate/seafaring book. And this one is beyond exceptional (how many times can I say that before it comes repetitious?). It may seem as though it opens slowly, but each page pushes the story along, slowly building upon the next, until the final culmination.

Faced with a daunting dilemma, Alice is forced to make an unpopular and unheard of decision, completely against societal norms. Throughout the book, the ship full of women sailors encounter dangers and trials as they sail the oceans in an attempt to fulfill her late husband's promise and for the women to gain their freedom.

Not every woman is prim. Not every woman is proper. Neither are they strong nor weak. Each have to overcome their own demons, short comings, and fear to truly be Hearts of Oak.

The way Susan Davis and James Davis were able to bring forth the characters' personalities without succumbing to stereotypes make this book truly remarkable. The vivid detail of the winds, the snapping sails, the terror and fear, the storms, and the beauty of the lonesome ocean create a new world within the reader's mind. Even to the point that the reader may dream about it.

Emotions are fully painted to allow the reader to be that character at that particular time, even when a character is debating with her own misgivings and pride.

What seafaring book wouldn't be complete with pirates? The Malay pirates were a menace during that time, and Alice's crew meets them. The battle and rescue were well written and believable. The battle, heartache, and victory showed not only Alice's reliance upon God, but also the new faith blossoming in the hearts of the others.

The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. is one book that will rivet you. Keep you turning the pages. And leave you wanting to read more about their journey knowing that it just begun. This book is truly remarkable and I can't praise it enough. I want to revisit it and chart the path they sailed. I want to learn more about that time and more about what they faced.

If you ever read this book, you will agree: this is a remarkable book. 

***click on the title for the option to purchase a copy of the book***