Friday, September 15, 2017

Mercy Triumphs by Jana Kelley

Three women. Three impossible circumstances. One merciful God.
Mia, an American Christian, has lived in Sudan so long that persecution, harassment, and danger have become commonplace for her. Her tough outer shell threatens to harden her heart while her newly Christian friends, Halimah and Rania, former Muslims, are forced to live in exile outside Sudan. All three quickly discover that escaping danger in one place only means facing even greater challenges elsewhere. As God's mercy becomes evident in their lives, they must choose whether or not to offer mercy to those who don't deserve it.
Third in a trilogy, Mercy Triumphs opens the reader's eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, 
Mercy Triumphs reveals some of the struggles Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for new believers, those who are persecuted for their faith, and even for the salvation of the persecutors.
Mercy Triumphs is the third novel in the trilogy written by Jana Kelley. Picking up a little while after A Door to Freedom, this novel focuses in on some different themes than the first two novels did. The focus shifts from persecution of believers to the struggles of new believers and to trusting in God no matter what the circumstances. Halimah struggles with how to embrace her new freedom Christ yet at the same time not lose sight of the reason why she is free and who her identity is in. Her dilemma is one that is faced by believers in many different cultures, and it was thought provoking to see first her gradual acceptance and then her eventual conviction from the Word and other believers. Rania struggles with the desire to stay safe yet at the same time share the truth with members of her family who do seem interested. I was drawn into both sisters' situations, how they turned to the Word, and the eventual resolution. 
Mia's case was a little different. I cannot say too much without giving away part of the story, but I was convicted by Mia's initial lack of trust in God, in two very different settings, and how in both cases she had to remember to turn back to God and to trust in His guidance. It was also thought provoking to see her realization that she can show mercy, kindness, and share God's love no matter where or with whom she is. Overall, I highly enjoyed the themes of this final novel. The writing style is still very choppy and simplistic, and even three books later I still have trouble relating to Mia's character, but the message of this book is very clear and important for believers to remember. 
 I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. Read more reviews of Mercy Triumphs at http://litfusegroup.com/author/jkelley. 
About the author:

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.
Find out more about Jana at http://www.janakelley.com.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

  She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?
Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.
A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White marks the first book in her new series, Shadows Over England. Set in pre-WWI England, this novel was enjoyable, thought provoking, and extremely well written. The plot line was well developed and included moments of humor, romance, betrayal, mystery, and suspense. The themes of the novel were incorporated flawlessly and delved into matters of forgiveness, what it means to be a child of God, the value of a person, trust, and honesty. I loved how Peter and Roseanna communicated through letters, and how Peter helped point Roseanna so carefully to her value as a child of God, someone who could be saved regardless of their past sins. I enjoyed seeing the relationship that had been built between Roseanna and her adopted 'siblings', and their amusing bets. I also particularly loved watching Peter and Roseanna discover more about one another and how each helped strengthen one another's failings. Overall, I found this novel to be charming and inspiring, and I look forward to seeing how the next novel in this new series plays out!
 I received this novel from Litfuse Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.  
About the author:

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Find out more about Roseanna M. at http://www.roseannamwhite.com.


High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin




In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle's café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She's a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin is a well crafted historical novel that delves into life during WWI in German occupied Brussels. I thought the storyline was well written and included the perfect amount of suspense, mystery, danger, romance, and tragedy. Kate Breslin did an excellent job researching life during WWI behind enemy lines, and I felt very connected to the story, characters, and setting. The novel also contained well integrated topics, such as forgiveness (of others and oneself) and sacrifice. The main characters, Evelyn and Simon, are realistic and well developed, and I found myself heartbroken for Evelyn as she had to deal with the horrors of war and what she had endured. I loved watching her work through her past and find renewal and hope. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I would definitely recommend this novel and Kate Breslin's other novels to readers who enjoy well written and intriguing historical fiction.

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

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden


It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett's heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness.

Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can't tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk.

Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can't pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

To the Farthest Shores was an intriguing and enjoyable read that explored some heart wrenching consequences of duty, secrets, and dueling commitments. I enjoyed learning more about the pearl trade and industry in the early 1900's, and I loved how pearls both tore Ryan and Jenny apart and forced them to work together again. I could certainly see the depth of research Camden put into her story, and it made the novel very believable. The plot line of this novel was superbly written, and featured suspense, danger, intrigue, and romance in a way that left me glued to the pages. The topics of forgiveness, trust, and honesty were beautifully interwoven throughout the novel in a way that left no doubt of their importance in friendships and deeper relationships. I thought the characters in this novel were well developed, realistic, and easy to relate to. Jenny and Ryan were both complex characters that had much to learn from one another and from God as they sought to move beyond their pasts and to not repeat the same mistakes again. I also appreciated the other minor characters and their role in bringing the main characters together. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I would definitely recommend it and all of Elizabeth Camden's novels to any reader who loves a complex, satisfying historical romance.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Big Book of Paleo Slow Cooking by Natalie Perry





The Big Book of Paleo Slow Cooking by Natalie  Perry

  In The Big Book of Paleo Slow Cooking, well-respected and widely read paleo blogger Natalie Perry focuses mostly on main courses for dinner, but there are breakfast, lunch, snack, and sweets/desserts ideas as well. The more than 200 recipes in the book include appetizers and snacks, soups and chilis, poultry, beef, pork and lamb, fish and seafood, vegetable sides, desserts, and pantry basics. The recipes are creative and new incorporating global flavors with roots in Asian, Latin, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Most of these recipes have never before appeared in print.




I thought this cookbook was well written and included a good variety of Paleo recipes. I already follow Natalie Perry's blog, and I was very excited to see this cookbook! I definitely plan on incorporating many of these recipes into my weekly meals, and I think many of these recipes fit my need for meals I can just throw into the Crockpot but that also improve my variety in meals that I can prepare. I thought the organization was also helpful, and I liked the variety of cooking styles available in the book. I definitely plan on buying this cookbook, and I would highly recommend it to fellow Paleo eaters looking to increase their slow cooker recipe collection.

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

Evie Blackwell's reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor's new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results--and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn't be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that "justice for all" truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson is the second novel in her Evie Blackwell Cold Case series, but it can be read as a standalone novel, as far as plot line goes. However, to fully appreciate Evie as a character and to have a better understanding of her development, I would recommend reading Traces of Guilt first. Threads of Suspicion is a well crafted novel that dives into two separate cold cases related to mysterious disappearances...that might not be as separate as they first thought. I enjoyed seeing how Evie and David collaborated with one another, other members of their team, and other agencies to rebuild these cold cases and to begin to track down missing clues. I thought that the storyline flowed well, though there were times when the story dragged some, even if it did match how the characters were feeling about their cold cases. I also appreciated the character development into Evie and David as they learned more about one another and themselves as they were placed under increasing tension and stress related to both their jobs and their personal lives. Overall, I enjoyed the plot and characters of this novel, and I would highly recommend this book (and Dee Henderson's novels in general) to anyone who loves a good suspense/mystery novel that also does not shy away from full character and story development.

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Daughter's Legacy by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould


Virginia, 1864
Therese Jennings cannot abide the thought of owning slaves. When her widowed mother inherits a plantation, Therese flees to Civil War Richmond, where she works as a governess by day and tends to wounded soldiers at night. But when trouble befalls her family, can she reconcile her obligations with her beliefs? And will love—whether with an old beau or a handsome new suitor—ever fit in her broken world?

Virginia, present day
Nicole Talbot’s life is back on track after years of substance abuse. Home from college for the summer, she’s finally ready to share a shocking secret, one that raises new questions about a traumatic childhood experience. But when facts she uncovers cast doubt on her family’s legacy, she must risk all that she’s gained—her fresh start, her family’s trust, and her growing relationship with a new man—to unlock the secrets of the past.
Learn more and purchase a copy.

My Daughter's Legacy is the third novel in the Cousins of Dove trilogy, and it wraps up a truly intriguing mystery that has stretched across the three novels. I picked up this book without realizing it was the last book, but I still heartily enjoyed the mystery and suspense of Nicole's past, along with the other three girls. I thought the authors did an excellent job creating both a good conclusion and an interesting stand alone novel. The novel delves into two women's lives, one in modern day Virginia, and the other in a Civil War torn Richmond.

The modern day story, Nicole's, was told with first person narrative, and I felt very connected to Nicole's thoughts and emotions as she wrestled with her old fears and her new life. Since I did not know the extent of her past from the first two novels, I did not have as much of a comparison of her previous life choices to her current life as a recovering addict, but I could still appreciate her courage and her reliance on both God and other Christian people around her to maintain her changes.

The Civil War story concerns Therese Jennings, one of Nicole's relatives, and it was told with third person narrative, but I still felt connected to Therese's struggles and dreams as she tries to navigate the divide between her family duties and her personal convictions. I enjoyed the suspense I tried to figure out which Talbot man she ended up marrying, and I was satisfied with the result, if not completely sold on the build up to that point.

Overall, I thought the two parallel stories worked well together, and I liked how there were multiple chapters at a time from one woman's perspective so that the parallel stories were not too scattered. I also enjoyed the conclusion of the past tragedy that had haunted Nicole and her cousins, and I was definitely surprised by the results. I look forward to going back and reading the first two novels now.

I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review.
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million copies sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania.

Leslie Gould, a former magazine editor, is the author of numerous novels, including "Beyond the Blue" and "Garden of Dreams." She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M Dickson

A brave midwife. A wounded pilot. A risky secret.

In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O'Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she's taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she'll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in "flyboy" Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.
But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband's death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson was a well written and heart warming story detailing an aspect of WWII that is not usually present in WWII novels. Ireland is not typically a setting used or discussed in the WWII books I read, and it was very interesting to see the decisions this Irish community had to make concerning aiding an RAF pilot when they secretly were in support of his mission. I thought that the plot line was engaging and included sufficient suspense, danger, and romance for me to devour the novel in one sitting. I really enjoyed the characters, particularly Nan and Dutch. I loved Nan's community, especially her closest friends, and how they looked after one another and pulled together when time called for it. The other minor characters also had many different quirks and amusing characteristics that helped me remember them as the reader and added flavour and depth to the story. Nan and Dutch were both well developed and interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how Dutch and other characters slowly were able to help Nan move past her guilt and realize that she is forgiven by God. There were some aspects of the theology in this novel that I did disagree with, but it did add authenticity to the area where Nan lived. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I cannot wait to read more of Jeanne Dickson's novels. 

I received this novel from Litfuse Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
Landing Page for other Grounded Hearts Reviews:  http://litfusegroup.com/author/JMDickson

About the author:

Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer's conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.
Find out more about Jeanne M. at http://www.jeannemdickson.com.
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer


Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can't let the villain she believes responsible for her father's death release his wrath in Harper's Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she's ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Heart on the Line is the second novel in Karen Witemeyer's Ladies of Harper Station series, and it was just as entertaining and well written as her other novels. This novel was filled with suspense, romance, danger, and unexpected twists and kept me enthralled throughout.While this novel can be read without reading the first novel, it is certainly better if you are already familiar with the ladies of Harper Station from the first novel. I definitely went back and looked at the first book, No Other Will Do, in order to remember a little bit more about each character. I enjoyed learning more about Grace and her past after being introduced to her in the first novel. My perspective of her completely changed while reading this novel and seeing more of her underlying character.  I also enjoyed meeting Amos Bledsoe and how he was almost the complete opposite of what Grace was hoping for and of her personality as well. I loved how their relationship began over the telegraph wires and continued to be communicated via Morse code even when they were in the same town. I liked how they brought out the best in one another and how each was forced to step beyond their comfort zone as they grew closer and had to deal with what was going on.

The other characters in this novel were fantastic as well. I enjoyed seeing old faces like the two maidenly aunts, Emma, Victoria, and Helen. It was great to see how both Emma and Malcolm and Victoria and Ben had grown in their relationships since the first novel. I also enjoyed learning more about Helen and see her soften and change as she was forced to see past her distrust of all things male. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I cannot wait for the next one.

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

With You Always by Jody Hedlund


When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She's had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children's Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn't want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City's wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother's shadow and is determined to win his father's challenge. He doesn't plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

With You Always is the first novel in Jody Hedlund's new series on the Orphan Train, and it is just as fantastic as her other novels. The storyline was well crafted and kept me glued to the pages. The novel was well paced and contained a perfect mixture of suspense, romance, danger, and betrayal that kept me continually guessing. I enjoyed learning more about the orphan trains, especially those where women signed up to go out West to earn money for their destitute families in the East. I was familiar with where they sent children out West if they were orphans or their families could not afford to care for them, but I did not realize that the women and men would often do the same thing to try to earn a living. I was saddened by the conditions that these people were forced to work in and how they were often never able to free themselves from the 'debt' they had to fulfill for the train ride and housing once they made it out West.

I enjoyed the interactions between Thornton and Elise. Both characters were well developed and engaging, and it was great to see how they challenged one another to look past their stereotypes and pride and then be able to use that to help others. The other more minor characters added greatly to the story, and while some of their situations were left in pieces at the end of this novel, I know that we will see them again in future novels. I cannot wait to see what comes next in this new series!

I received this novel from Netgalley and Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard


This is not your average soft-focus "journey to Asia" kind of cookbook. Koreatown is a spicy, funky, flavor-packed love affair with the grit and charm of Korean cooking in America. Koreatowns around the country are synonymous with mealtime feasts and late-night chef hangouts, and Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard show us why with stories, interviews, and over 100 delicious, super-approachable recipes.

It's spicy, it's fermenty, it's sweet and savory and loaded with umami: Korean cuisine is poised to break out in the U.S., but until now, Korean cookbooks have been focused on taking readers to an idealized Korean fantasyland. Koreatown, though, is all about what's real and happening right here: the foods of Korean American communities all over our country, from L.A. to New York City, from Atlanta to Chicago.

Koreatown is an elegant and well crafted book that includes not only over a 100 recipes but also tells the story of the different people cooking Korean food all across the United States. The pictures that accompany both the stories and the recipes are beautifully taken and really emphasize the nature of each dish and the communities that are serving it. I love all types of food, and I was really intrigued by many of the Korean recipes in this book. I tried a couple so far, and they have been delicious. The cookbook first starts off with the basics ingredients and equipment and then moves into the essentials, such as making Kimchi and Banchan. From there it is divided into rice/dumplings, barbecue, drinks, soups, guest recipes, and desserts. Overall I found this book to be not only a beautiful coffeetable centerpiece, but also a wonderful book to turn to when I want to make something with a little Oriental spice.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

True to You by Becky Wade


After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry.

John enlists Nora's help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side by side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

True to You marks the first book in Becky Wade's new series The Bradford Sisters' Romance, and it starts it off with a bang. The storyline is interesting and well written, and I found myself glued to the pages to find out what happens next to Nora. I liked how many of the chapters began or ended with texts, Facebook messages, or emails between different characters, particularly the ones between the Bradford sisters. Many of the messages were amusing, and they gave a little background information to what was occurring behind the scenes and into the feelings of some of the minor characters. The dialogue between the characters was well written and helped me to really identify with their emotions and to understand the relationships between them. I also thought that the characters were realistic and well developed. I loved Nora's quirkiness and her sisters' attempts to 'pruce her up a bit.' I could relate to her bookishness and desire for her own "Mr. Darcy." I liked watching Nora and John grow more as individuals and slowly learn more about each other as they searched for John's mother. I thought their interactions were amusing and also realistic. I enjoyed seeing Nora's interactions with her sisters and her extended family, and I am glad that there will be more books so that I learn more about her other sisters! Overally, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I cannot wait to see what is in store in the following books!
I received this novel from Liftuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.  

Read more reviews on this book here: http://litfusegroup.com/author/bwade



 Meet the Author

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. 

Learn more at www.beckywade.com.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Brave is the New Beautiful by Lee Wolfe Blum


Blum pin1
Our culture bombards women with "thinspiration" messages and pressure to "do it all" while wearing the mask of perfection. 

Women are left feeling alone and overwhelmed. How can they stop comparing themselves to others? How can they live out who they really are?

Lee Wolfe Blum offers stories from everyday women who have answered these questions with their lives-and found true beauty in the process. In Brave Is the New Beautiful, Blum weaves reflections from her own journey with inspirational stories from everyday women who chose to take off their masks and live authentically. Through call-to-action questions and ideas, she encourages readers to be brave enough to be who they really are and the beloved that God knows they are.
 
 Brave is the New Beautiful is a thought provoking read that challenges the beliefs and assumptions that our culture holds and that many of us unconsciously (or consciously) hold onto. Lee Wolfe Blum does an excellent job weaving her own experiences and those of women she has worked with to demonstrate the dangers and hurt caused by holding to these incorrect views of beauty and where we should find our beauty instead. I like how she uses Scripture to back up her points and how she shows the importance of mentorship and getting help instead of trying to figure out things on your own. Each chapter is easy to read and fairly short, with discussion questions/questions for deeper contemplation at the end of each chapter. I found this book to be convicting and thought provoking, and a reminder that even those who serve in women's ministry and help others have to deal with the same feelings of inadequacy and/or 'ugliness' as the rest of us. I would highly recommend this book, especially for a women's book club this summer. 

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. See more review at:


Lee Wolfe Blum is an energetic and passionate speaker who loves to help women find hope in healing from perfectionism and addictions. She works as a mental health practitioner in the field of Eating Disorders and Chemical Dependency. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three boys.

Find out more about Lee Wolfe at leewolfeblum.com.
 

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.