Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Welcome to College by Jonathan Morrow






Is there a more frightening question for a graduating high school senior than "What will you do with your life?"
In college, whether they realize it or not, students will answer that question every day with each decision. All of the new friends and new experiences of higher education will shape their future. It's critical that students know how to handle college before they're in the thick of it.
Jonathan Morrow tackles the tough questions that arise during these formative years, including:
-How do you grow spiritually?
-How do you manage your time to both study well and have fun?
-Is all truth relative?
-Are there good reasons to be a Christian?
-As a Christian, how should you view issues like dating and sex?
Each chapter of this new edition has been updated, and the author has included a new chapter on Christianity, homosexuality, and the Bible. Grounded in both his own extensive experience and biblical truth, Morrow's book is full of quick, easy-to-read chapters and excellent advice.
I requested this book because my brother is about to head off for college, and I thought that this would be a good and helpful read for both of us. And I would have to agree. I thought the chapters were succinct and well written, and the topics were practical and definitely applicable for what students have to deal with in college, and even as young professionals after college as well. I thought Jonathan Morrow made some excellent points and that his advice was well grounded in Biblical knowledge. I liked the addition to this edition on homosexuality, as it is a topic that is being much discussed particularly on college campuses these days, and many young college believers are not sure how to address it or if it is even an issue. Overall, I thought this was a well written and practical guide, and I think it is an excellent resource for those about to enter college and even those who are about to leave it. 
I received this book from Litfuse Publishing House in exchange for an honest review. 
Read other reviews on this book here: http://litfusegroup.com/author/jmorrow
About the author:
Jonathan Morrow (DMin, MDiv) is the author of several books including "Questioning the Bible" and he speaks nationally on biblical worldview, apologetics, and culture. He is adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University and director of cultural engagement at Impact 360 Institute where he teaches high school and college students. Jonathan is passionate about seeing a new generation build a lasting faith.
Find out more about Jonathan at http://www.jonathanmorrow.org.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray


After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she's getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky...if only she wasn't too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.
For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called "The Recluse" confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God's gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there's always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.
 
Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray was an interesting novel that had a good mixture of suspense, danger, and a rural setting. The storyline moved at a slow but comfortable pace, and it included important and well developed themes such as forgiveness, kindness, and moving past previous experiences by trusting and leaning on God and His help. The characters were fairly well developed; they did experience growth as the story went on, but I still had trouble connecting with Hannah or her sister as the story developed. I also felt like Isaac could have been developed a little more too, though I did have a better job connecting to his struggles. I did enjoy the end of the novel where everything culminated into a very exciting and suspenseful ending. However, overall while this was not my favorite Shelley Gray novel, I did enjoy reading this novel, and I would recommend it to any reader who likes Amish/suspense fiction.
I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 
About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

 Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions.
That's the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister's daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won't take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia's pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother-who stole the most important person in Livvie's world.
Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he's just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there's already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect.
That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn't the only heart that needs to change.
These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society's opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.
The Elusive Miss Ellison was a phenomenal novel that I devoured in one sitting. The plot was well written and moved at the perfect pace to allow me to embed myself in the story without getting bogged down in details or feeling bored. The story line included elements of mystery, romance, and a little suspense, and had many important themes such as the importance of forgiveness, mercy, and not being too quick to judge others and their circumstances. I liked both Nicholas and Lavinia, and I enjoyed how their characters clashed and completely misjudged one another due to what they assumed and their past experiences. I thought both characters (and other minor characters) were well developed and had many strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed watching both main characters grow more mature and seeing Nicholas' change of heart toward God as the story progressed. I liked how the author wove the ending of the story together and brought out some interesting secrets from both characters' families. Overall, I highly recommend this novel, and I cannot wait to read more of Carolyn Miller's works.
I received this novel for free from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.
Learn more and read other reviews at: http://litfusegroup.com/author/CMiller
  
About the author:

Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.
 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley

 What happens when persecution hits close to home?

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister's sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom, the freedom that only comes when you trust God's sovereignty more than man-made security.
 
 Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley is the sequel to Side by Side, and it further delves into the differing lives of the American Christians and the Muslim Sudanese. This book picks up almost two years after the first, and the time the reader experiences more of the persecution of Christians still seen in Muslim countries today. Mia and Michael have both matured as believers and as missionaries, and as the their door of witnessing opportunity continues to be opened, they also experience increased persecution and warnings from Muslims and other Christians alike. I enjoyed seeing how the two had matured and how they continued to trust God and His plan for them even in the midst of threats of tribulation. I loved how Scripture was interspersed throughout and how much Mia and Michael relied on God's Word and prayer. It was a great reminder to me how important staying immersed in the Word and prayer is to both a personal relationship with God and having an effective ministry. Mia also showed the power of God when she was able to forgive a fellow believer who was chastising them for sharing the Gospel so boldly. It was convicting to me to think about how we as believers can unwittingly hinder the spread of the Gospel sometimes when we do not trust and surrender to God. 

Another aspect of the storyline is Rania, the younger sister of Halimah (from Side by Side), who finds out for herself who Jesus is and her response. I liked seeing how she learned more about Isa (Jesus) and in turn had to make a difficult decision about what was more important -her family or her new faith. It was interesting to see the role of women in a Sudanese Muslim household and the traditions held by their culture and faith. 

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. While the writing style and characterization were simplistic and predictable at times, I found the story's cultural background and settings to be eye-opening and the Scriptural references to be convicting. I could tell that these elements were based on real life events from the author's experiences, and it added a layer of reality to the story that made it very compelling. After reading about some of the struggles that many Christians face while living in Muslim countries, especially when they face persecution, I was further convicted to spend time in prayer for those who are undergoing these scenarios now. I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.

Author of the captivating novel Side by Side, Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After 13 years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.
 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen


The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen was a fascinating novel of a young woman who inherited a struggling inn after the death of her husband and had no idea how to run it. I liked the setting of the small village and the inner workings of the inn and everyone worked together to try to improve it. I thought the plot moved at a slow but steady pace, and it contained a couple different romance storylines that ran simultaneously. I liked how this story was really about Thora's change of heart/attitude while Jane's story is just beginning and will continue as the series goes on. Rachel and other minor characters also had chapters dedicated to what was happening in their lives, which I also think is setting the stage for the rest of the series. While I liked seeing what was happening in the entire village, it did cause the story to drag out a little bit, especially when there was only resolution to Thora's story and not the other ones. However, I am interested to see how the story of this village to continues to unfold in the following novels. 

The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Thursday, December 22, 2016

For the Record by Regina Jennings


Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle's newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don't seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies' pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions. She'd be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn't want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.

For the Record by Regina Jennings was an intriguing and sweet read that included a well written mixture of romance, disappointment, mystery, and intrigue. The plot line was well developed, entertaining, and had me unable to put the book down. This book is the third in the Ozark Mountain Romance series, but it can be read alone as the other book characters are only briefly mentioned in this novel. However, having already read the other two novels, I was excited to see Betsy get her own novel. I really like her character, and I was both entertained by her whimsical nature and her vivid imagination and saddened with her when her choices caused her problems later on. I also liked Joel Puckett, and I enjoyed seeing Betsy and Joel learn and grow from their mistakes. I thought the mystery in the novel was suspenseful, and I liked seeing how the community came together in the end. Overall I highly enjoyed this novel, and I hope it is not the last of this series!

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.