Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

First let me say that Julie Cantrell is a master storyteller. Her novels "Into the Free", and "When Mountains Move", are still at the top of my favorite list. These two novels are the reason I love to read. Writers like Julie have a gift to capture the heart and move the soul. 

I was excited when I first seen Perennials was up for review. I knew I had to read these penned words that stir up a story. 

When I first in the beginning chapter going back to the summer of 1979 in Oxford, Mississippi I set my heart in motion for a fantastic read. 

I love the fact that there are two sisters and their relationship is at center of this story. It is because of their relationship, their rivalry, that these two characters are who they are today. Once so close, feet muddy in the dirty fun of Mississippi, the day arrives when everything changes. One choice, one action, one lie. From there their rivalry grows in this adult creature that divides them. 

Mom and dad are still living in Mississippi. Our main character, Eva, known as Lovey, moves as far away as possible. She makes a new life in Arizona. She leaves behind everything she once was so long ago. Funny how even just a little time of insecurity and sadness can seem like a lifetime. 

Eva is now working in advertising. The lie of so long ago that tore up her life and changed everything is now a natural part of her everyday life at the job. Lying to people to sell. I do love how Cantrell ties in lying. We lie for many reasons and in this novel we see why the heart of these characters lie. Sometimes it is to protect. Sometimes it is to defend. 

The sister of this rivalry, Bitsy, still lives close to mom and dad. She has made a life of perfection for herself. That's the perception she wants to give. It seems these sisters have much between them, but if they could get past the ugly and come together, they could see that their lives are not so different. Reality doesn't always look pretty, but when we have encouragement and support, it makes all the difference. By the end of this story they kind of come to see this.

So, mom and dad are soon to have their fiftieth  wedding anniversary. They are encouraging Eva to return home and help bring this celebration to life. Family first or job first? Family first for Bitsy, but for Eva, she puts herself first. I can understand why she would come to feel this way. She tries everything, but nothing quite ever makes her feel a part of the family. She was always blamed for an accident where all these years the truth has remained hidden. She has spoken the truth, but no one pays attention to her. More infuriating angst against her sister. It breaks my heart that her parents never seen past the lies. They always wanted to bring the family together, but it seemed they wanted to do so without fixing what has been broken for so many years. 

Okay, so Eva goes home and the story continues with this family. So much happens between them. So much goes unspoken. This family is about to face circumstances we never prepare for but always experience. But this family does come to feel a peace that has been missing for so long. 

This is a full circle of a young girl leaving home, setting out on her own, finding herself and living her dream, but always missing a piece of herself. She was homesick and didn't even realize that is what has been missing. But home, once left for so long is never quiet the same when you return. 

Now, if I stopped here I could give this story a five star review. There's so much I loved about this story, but so much that I didn't. First of all, I see this more and more with Thomas Nelson. When I choose a Christian novel I expect, with their tradition and character, to have a faith-based novel. This again is not the case. There is much spirituality, but that is based in Buddhism, and the Buddhist prayer wheel, and her spiritual guide who leads her down these paths to bring life full circle. During one of her walks she even visualizes someone. Mary? This is New Age stuff. I can understand the writer bringing in this to show just how far she has come from the girl she was in Mississippi, but there isn't a faith that she returns to. That's huge for me. 

Her mother loves gardens so they create for her a Mary garden. Even at the end of the novel, where she has returned home and coming back to herself, she is still traveling this Buddhist spiritual walk. Since this isn't mainstream publication and is from Thomas Nelson I expected more. To bring in faith, to share Christ, to return to a faith left would have totally changed this novel for me. 

Again, there is so much to love. I greatly admire Julie Cantrell as a writer. But if you are totally Christian fiction keep in mind this isn't the faith read one expects from Thomas Nelson. It is unlike any other novel this author has penned. Even though I didn't connect to this one I will still wait in anticipation for her next work. And remember, this is only my opinion. You may pick up this novel and love it from front to back. It is my hope that you do!! 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award-winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association's Fiction Award. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like her debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, was named Best Read by Library Journal and is currently a finalist for multiple awards, including Southern Book Prize.

Across the Blue by Carrie Turanksky

Let me begin with the cover. Genius! Just a gorgeous cover and very telling of the story. We have the main character, the flying machine, and the backdrop the cliff that brings this story together. 

We travel back to the year of 1909. The Edwardian Era. That alone catches my attention for a great read. The Grayson family moves to a new estate. It is here on this estate where Isabella Grayson meets James Drake. Both of these characters are so well depicted. Even in the conversation the reader is allowed to see the heart of the character. 

Bella's parents are wanting her to focus on marriage and accepting a suitor sooner than later. Their focus is all about appearance and the social calendar. We see a time where a woman doesn't have the rights we so often take for granted today. Women are expected to be in their place, but Bella has dreams that she isn't giving up on and that is so wonderful to see in a character. She respects her parents. She knows where she has come from and the heritage that gives her a name. She feels confident within herself. She is entering a whole new world that gives way for other women. She's a trailblazer that doesn't allow her fears to hold her back. 

Now we James Drake. He too has dreams and isn't giving up on those. I absolutely love his character. He doesn't know much about his past. He was raised by his mentor that gave him a wonderful life,  but one much different from Bella. Where she finds herself to be comfortable anywhere, James doesn't have such confidence. He is surrounded by wealthy people. People where your name means everything. He isn't sure of his last name. I find him to be content, but also he has that heart like us all that just wants to be accepted for who he is. 

We see these characters come together and grow in mighty ways. As their dreams are taking flight we too not only get to see how these dreams soar,  but also we find answers to a hidden past. A name may give status, but in Christ Jesus we are all valuable. I love how faith is gently weaved throughout this story. So many years separate then and now, but there are many things that are still prevalent to us today. To find ourselves in a world that is all about status brings us to see what's really important in life.  

I really enjoyed this novel. Beauty from first to last page. Exceptional writing within these pages. Turansky has the gift to bring a story to life. Such descriptive writing that gives the reader just enough to keep them captivated and enough room to allow their imagine to soar. The writing easily flows. The characters are so captivating I was easily drawn to them. All of this makes for an amazing story.

Happy reading!💚

This novel was a gift from WaterbrookMultnomah for sharing my review. 

Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of nearly twenty novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women's fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals. Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott. They have five adult children and several grandchildren. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Is This The End? (Signs of God's Providence in a Disturbing New World) by Dr. David Jeremiah

Spectacular!!! My husband was first to read this book. He came to me and shared that he thought it was quite amazing. For him to enjoy a book its gotta be beyond superb. 

So, I picked it up and literally didn't want to put it down until I was finished. That usually doesn't happen with non-fiction. Now with a great fiction read I can read for hours at a time, so for this to hold my attention and be so intriguing with truths and Biblical wisdom, I can share with you without a doubt that this is one book every Christian needs to read. One book we need to pass on to all our friends, believer in Christ or yet to know Him. 

Powerful and poignant. Dr. Jeremiah is very straight forward. There is no being afraid to offend. He speaks Biblical truth without hesitation. 

We can watch mainstream media and think all is fine. Mercy, let us look outside mainstream media for the truths of today's reality and let us look to God for tomorrrow's.

This book is splint into two parts. The first Dr. Jeremiah speaks about the end of America, with chapters such as; The Age of Anything Goes, The Bleeding of Our Borders, The Increase of Intolerance, The Apathy of America, and The Remedy of Revival. The second portion of this book is focused on the world with chapters such as; The Isolation of Israel, The Insurgency of ISIS, The Resurrection of Russia, The Rapture of the Redeemed, and Translated Before the Tribulation. Do any of those topics hit home? They all do, right? This is a book that doesn't just touch on those subjects, but Jeremiah spends a lot of time going deep and bringing to light what is going on in our American and our world. One can see that he did an abundant amount of research. 

Here are a few of Dr. Jeremiah's words: 

"To most of us, it is clear that things cannot go on as they are, and we wonder, is everything we have known coming to an end? Is it too late to save our nation? Our world? Where can we go to find a realistic reason for hope? These are questions I will address in this book. But to avoid the possible accusation that I am promising more than I can deliver, let me be quick to say that some of the answers we seek are hidden in the mind of God. Only He knows whether the flickering ember of America's flame can be fanned back to life. And only He knows the timetable for Christ's return."

"We do not know whether American will soon fall. We do not know when the Lord will return. But we do know that whatever our circumstances, God's desire for us is to live without anxiety and with hope. He offers you "thoughts of peace and not of evil", and He wants "to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11)."

"In this book I will show you how to find that hope. It is a hope that is not dependent on whether America falls or recovers or whether world order stabilizes or disintegrates. It is a hope that rises above trouble and chaos, enabling you to keep your focus on your future reward and endure whatever comes, whether good or evil, with grace and equanimity." 

This is one of those books that will not only leave you pondering, but praying, seeking God in all this mess we live in today. Most of all, I find myself digging deeper within within the Word. That is what I love about Dr. Jeremiah. These are not just his thoughts. They are Biblical and he brings everything to the the Word of God. 

In our day when everyone wants to be politically correct it is refreshing to find such a trustworthy teacher, a man of God, who wants nothing more than to lead us to Christ, giving us the wisdom and tools to help us along this unknown journey. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including Captured by Grace, Angels: Who They Are and How They Help, What in the World Is Going On?, and Agents of the Apocalypse.





Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Life Beyond Amazing (9 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life Today) by Dr. David Jeremiah

I have been blessed by David Jeremiah. His books and his preaching. I have been tuning in to watch him preach on this book. Seems so simple to use the word amazing, but that is exactly what it is. 

Those nine decisions that will transform our lives are from Galatians 5:22-23. "Our world needs solid-to-the-core people with unimpaired grit and unimpeded godliness. The church needs a rekindling of the nine traits that go to the core of character and are called the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23."

"This book is about character. It's about how we develop the character that Christ wants for us, that God makes us capable of achieving, and that the Holy Spirit is always, always ready to guide us to. I want to help you develop character qualities beyond the norm. I want to show you how to build a life beyond amazing, and, in so doing, make an impact beyond imagination." 

"The qualities of a life beyond amazing are produced within us by the Holy Spirit. It is His love, joy, peace, endurance, compassion, generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline you seek. These qualities represent the essence of the personality of Jesus Himself. When the Spirit of Christ comes to live within us, He reproduces Himself, putting these traits at our core so we can achieve godly character."

"None of what I share with you is beyond your reach...unless you try it alone, without the spiritual support Jesus makes available to us. That spiritual support will sustain you when what I'm asking you to do feels like more than you can handle, much less achieve."

Okay, I have shared just a little from the introduction alone. That's good stuff, right? There are nine chapters, each one jam-packed with extraordinary goodness for the soul. Food we all need for the endurance of this journey we are on today and preparation for the tomorrow in our journey. Each chapter goes through the nine characteristics of love, joy, peace, endurance, compassion, generosity, integrity, humility, and self-discipline. I wish I could share my notes for each chapter, but there just isn't enough room. 

Dr. Jeremiah uses the Word of God and he never strays from the truth of the Word. He shares personal stories, stories from others that will bring your heart to ponder, wisdom from other sojourners, those from the Bible and those who walk today with us. What I love is his transparency. He has a great love and passion to share Jesus. That makes him a great teacher. 

I appreciate his teaching. This book in particular really reaches into the heart. Does our speech and walk line up together? Am I living what I say I believe? I have found that I cannot just live one of these characteristics, it's kind of all or none. We may have to work harder at some as others come easy to us, but they all work together. If we love, Jesus love, these characteristics will flow from us. 

That's what we find here within these pages. He guides us to understanding how to live out this amazing life that Jesus has called us to. He brings scripture to the forefront of each chapter and uses reality, real life experiences, that lets us know we are not alone in this journey. 

"With the Holy Spirit at home in your heart, the nine virtues will begin to grow. As you nourish them with God's Word and repair them with repentance, they will mature you into a person ready to face each day with confidence and joy. And along the way there will be blessings. You will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. You will enjoy a closeness in your walk with God that you never imagined." 

If you're new to David Jeremiah this is a wonderful place to begin. If you're a longtime reader of his books and study then this is an awesome place to continue. There too is a study guide that goes along with this book. I use my David Jeremiah Study Bible for my studies and it may too be something you will enjoy as you journey forward in this incredible walk with Him.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than fifty books, including Is This the End?, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, David Jeremiah Morning and Evening Devotions, Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible, and The Jeremiah Study Bible. Dr. Jeremiah Serves as the senior pastor of shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and twelve grandchildren. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Late at Night in the Quiet of it All I Pray

For the longest time after the crash I couldn't sleep. It was a good seven months before I could sleep. Nightmares came at times. No one wants that call when you know tragedy is on the other end. I'd often wake in the early hours, sitting up in bed, thoughts rushing through my head. Then I'd remind myself. Rob, he's in bed. He's asleep. He's safe.

There are nights late when I walk Stanley that the moon is hanging over and the stars are shining God's glory. In front of our home is a two lane highway. Some drive slow. Many make the choice to speed. With Stanley on his leash he spends his time hunting. He probably listens to me as I talk to God. I know he does. Every once in a while his ears will perk up. Everything at that time of night seems so peaceful. As if grace has covered the night. 

I walk closer to the edge of the yard, keeping myself and Stanley safe. But I hear a car coming. As it passes I can feel the earth shake. The breeze from its speed rushes by and I in that moment think about what that night must have been for my husband. The impact. The rush. That moment where death and life are a fine line. 

See, last October 12, 2016 he was in a severe crash. He was stopped at light. It turned green but before he could get the truck in gear the driver, Dawn Woosley of Washington, Missouri,  was already swerving into his lane hitting him at a high rate of speed. Never braking. He was in her path of destruction. She was arrested that night for DWI. This woman refused to take a breathalyzer. Only one reason a person refuses that in my opinion. We are currently in two trials. One where the judge is making his decision on revoking her license. The second is the criminal case where she is charged with a Felony C- assault in the second degree-operating a vehicle while intoxicated. You can find all this information by going to case-net.This case is now set for jury trial April 5. Can you imagine a jury? They hate drunk drivers. Oh, wait. Accused drunk drivers. All twelve of them will hear the case, will hear my husband's testimony, and I will give the victim's impact statement. All this with our entire family sitting next to us. 

It is for this reason I cannot share a lot about my husband. What I can share is he is suffering from Post Concussive Syndrome. It's been over a year now. He was out of work for five months. He was forced back to work. If he hadn't we would have lost everything we have worked so very hard for over the last twenty-seven years together. His memory is scary. This is the husband who never had to look for phone numbers. He could tell you by heart every number in his phone. He's never forgotten dates, times, years. February 14th is our anniversary. He's never forgotten. This is the first time. Our oldest daughter's birthday is at the end of this month. He had no idea. He has ringing/buzzing constant in his ears. He says it sounds like cicadas. It has never stopped. So, this has done scary things to his hearing. I now have to look directly at him so he can hear me. Confusion and fogginess create days where plans are cancelled and home is the safe place to be. One of the hardest parts of this concussion is not being able to attend birthday parties of our grandchildren and to play with them as he always has. Loud sounds bring him to his knees. Light. That brings on headaches. The intense neck pain has never ended. Like I shared. Good days and bad days, but every day has changed. Nothing in our lives is the same as it was before the crash on October 12. 

I want my husband back. Whole and healed. I have become the person in our home who does the majority of everything. This isn't my husband. He's that man who helps me do everything. We have always helped one another. Now he grows so exhausted. 

I remind myself that it won't always be this way. This too shall pass. God will make right all that is wrong. Our faith remains strong. We know our Lord stands for His people. He surrounds us with His strength. Covers us with His peace. 

Closing my eyes I can hear the crash. I can hear metal crushing metal. I can see my husband rolling in his truck as he flipped end over end, landing upside down with gas pouring all over him and then crashing sideways into a utility pole. I see him frantically trying to get his six foot body out of a small side window. 

Yes, it's been over a year now. But it hasn't ended. It's difficult to move forward when this is now your life. We live this life never wanted, never expected, but one that was forced upon us by an individual who was careless. You know, this person is a nurse? This nurse, this bar owner, gets out of her vehicle laughing with her friend and never checks on my husband. How does that happen? If a person is in their right mind wouldn't you rush over? If you know you had just caused an innocent crash wouldn't you do all you could to help the person who you just injured? Especially being a nurse of all things? She never even picked up her cell phone to call 911. 

This Post Concussive Syndrome could last years. It could last a lifetime. This is what happens when irresponsible people get behind the wheel of a vehicle. My husband's life, my life, our entire family. To try and live a normal life, doing all the things we did before this crash, caring for our aging parents, helping with our grands, all of these activities of just a normal life is so extreme now. As it takes everything out of him it adds more stress to me. A circle that continues with such unknown. I have no idea where this Post Concussive Syndrome will take my husband. I can only pray for continued healing. Every day I wake up and hope to God that today is the day!

My husband loves to farm. He hasn't been able to do much of that. We planned a vacation to travel to New Mexico to spend time with my friend. It was suppose to be a trip that I have anticipated for a few years now. It just couldn't happen. My husband just wasn't up to traveling across country. This entire year has been altered because of one person who made a choice to place others in harms way when she decided to drive irresponsibility.

There are times I look at my husband and wonder where he is. What's he thinking? This protective and loving husband of mine gets this lost look in his eyes. This strong man, this husband of mine who has always cared for me and everything in our lives just isn't the same. How does a wife share all that with her husband? You can't. I can't. He already feels terrible that he can't remember as he once did before the crash. Often he doesn't feel like doing much. Work takes just about everything out of him. 

He's a mail carrier. He loves his job. He's always traveled. Now he loves being at home. He's won safety driving awards. When he is on the road safety is his first priority. Not only his safety, but the safety of others. In his dangerous line of work he has witnessed many crashes, many deaths. He has seen drivers on fire in their trucks. So, imagine you have been in a crash, you're upside down and you feel gasoline pouring all over you. She crashed into him so powerfully that nothing underneath the truck was left. She crushed his gas tank. That fear hasn't left him. 

What does a wife do? She does all she can to see that the woman who caused this with one choice to drive irresponsibly is held accountable for her actions. A wife speaks to attorneys, prosecutors, officers, the court, she makes appointments as she finds specialists. She helps her husband in ways like never before. She's a prayer warrior. A fighter for justice.

A wife too lives with every emotion. This woman, is she sorry? Sorry for being caught? Sorry the public will find out? Sorry about her reputation? Is she sorry for her actions, choices, and now dragging a family through six more months as we wait for a jury trial to begin? Without action saying I'm sorry is just empty words. Being sorry for your actions means taking accountability for your choices. It isn't placing blame on others and it certainly isn't making excuses. It's standing up, saying, I did this. I am ready to accept the responsibility for my choices and how they left a family living a new and unexpected life. 

As I sat in court last month listening to her attorney question the police officers there to testify, he questioned whether or not she was even driving. Was her passenger Audrey driving? Maybe it was Mr. Prater's fault. Were his lights working? The officers testified that she was angry that she couldn't drive her car home. Her car was totaled!! She told them that my husband crashed into her?! How does that work when she crashed into him from behind? She wasn't in court this day to hear her attorney question the police officers. He tried to make them look incompetent, but the woman, the driver who is trying to get back her driver's license didn't even show up for court to be questioned about what happened and the truth of the crash. Her attorneys may tell her that's wise. but most people would see that as cowardly. If there is nothing to hide, if you did nothing wrong, why not be present in every court date, speaking on your own behalf?

At the time we took photos of the cars we wish now that we had taken a photo of her odometer. It broke at 76 miles per hour. We are told that new cars now have this ability that when they crash the odometer breaks at the speed they were driving at impact. As she topped the hill there was plenty of room. My husband was the only other car on the road. He in the right lane. She in the left. Why did she have to cross over? My husband would share with you that it was better him than a young mother on her way home from work or a youth on their way home after a shift at a local fast food joint. Better him than a young father rushing home to see his young children. But see, my husband has five children and five grandchildren. He's dad and Papa. He too has a wife who feels so blessed to be able to share a life of twenty-seven years with this faithful man who walks with such integrity. He is everything to me. He's the man who led me to Jesus. Who gave me my first born son. The man who every day tells me how beautiful I am. 

Yes, as a wife, when you live daily witnessing your husband struggle you grow angry. You feel broken and at times so lonely because the man you once shared everything with you can no longer share your greatest fears. You feel exhausted and you just want it to all end. There are times I just break down and the tears fall as I cry out to the Lord. I feel overwhelmed and at times cheated. You pray for the judges, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, and yes, for Dawn and her passenger, Audrey. My greatest prayer is that God will bring good from what Satan deemed as evil. That God will make right all that is wrong. I pray that He moves on our behalf, but for every soul involved, every person who knows this case will come to know Christ as their Savior.

Tonight I pray that Dawn will plead guilty and hold herself accountable for her actions, being the example to her children and grandchildren, to the very people in her community. Being sorry isn't trying to manipulate the law in order to lessen your offense. Being sorry is being truthful about the accounts of the crash, before and after. Being sorry is humbling yourself and admitting you made poor choices and the choices you made invaded a family's life, maybe for a lifetime. 

We can argue if she was drinking or not. The officer in court testified that she admitted leaving her bar where she had been drinking. Let's say she wasn't drinking. Then why make such poor decisions after the crash? Nothing about that makes any sense. I've seen car crashes just as you have. The normal action of people, especially when they have caused a crash is to run to the victim. Being a nurse you would think that would be second nature.

Sure, people pay high-powered attorneys for their advice, but that doesn't mean their advice is what is best for us. That's the same for visiting a doctor. For every person charged with a crime it is for that person to look into their heart, deep down, and ponder their decisions. What's best is to do what's right. Truth has a way of prevailing. We don't do what's right to make us feel better. We simple do what's right because it's what's right. 

She could never place herself in our life this past year. She could imagine if it were her family, her husband, her child, her grandchild, but it wasn't. It was my husband. God's son, His child. He protected him that night and brought him home to me. He has been present in every moment of our lives. It won't always be this way. This too shall pass. God will make right all that is wrong. 

This is our journey. Our life. It is our greatest hope that those who witness us live this unwanted life see Jesus living through us. It's His strength on our weakest days. His grace that brings us to our knees with grateful hearts. We know things could have turned out much different. A thousand different scenarios, but that's Satan's game. We cannot allow that to mold a root inside our head. It is a daily battle to fight all we know is wrong in this upside down world. We must choose to see that God has a plan and in this moment we are a part of this plan. So, we hold tight to Him and see just where He leads. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In the Middle of the Mess (Strength For This Beautiful, Broken Life) by Sheila Walsh


I first heard Sheila Walsh speak at Women of Faith. I loved her then in all those moments she spoke transparent love. I was blessed to see her many times, hearing her stories as she shared her love of Jesus. I too have been blessed to review most of her penned works, created to bring us closer to the Savior. Are you ready? This just may be my favorite. Just maybe it arrived in God's perfected time and it is just what He ordered. You gotta love a God who brings to us just what is needed for the journey forward. 

I would say to get yourself over to Amazon and pre-order this gem of a read. Reading this cover to cover I already have a friend in mind who I'll be sending it to. This is a book for every woman at every age. Sheila writes so transparent, so easy. I would even say that there isn't a man out there who shouldn't read it too. After all we are all a mess, right? 

Sheila shares about her own deep wounds. She shares personal. She's that girlfriend that goes deep. The encouraging friend we all need. The woman that inspires us because we see Jesus in her life, through the beauty and mess. Sheila shares life for her in the death of her father and later in life when her mum leaves this world for the other side of heaven. 

In 1992 Sheila was in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. Her words hit home with me. "Sorrow was not to be shared; it was private. So I learned to cry alone." Let me share a few more words from Sheila that point blank bring truth to so many of us. 

"I have always needed a community around me-we all do-but it was the thing I was most afraid of. It's why I hid, even when surrounded by community. It's why I guarded that secret cellar. I wondered: What if I let you see the real me? What if I let you into my innermost thoughts and feelings and you too a long, hard look? Would you see scared, broken little girl? Would you see someone who didn't have it all together, who didn't know how to trust the Jesus she loved to preach? Would you turn and walk away? What would I do then? What would I do without my hiding place? You would think that within Christian community-specifically within the church-I could have confessed my shame, my panic, my fear. But I knew that sometimes our Christian community is the crucible where shame is born. Many of you also know this sad truth. Too often, sharing secrets and shame in the church begets more shame, which leads to more secret-keeping. That is tragic. We survive, cut off from the very help and healing we need." 

I could continue sharing. This book is powerful, redemptive, grace-filled. There isn't any hiding here, but a place where it's safe to be us. I found myself within these pages. There's healing to be found here too. I would love to wrap my arms around Sheila and say, thank you. Even through reading I can hear her accent which brings her to be so genuine in a time and place where fake resides, but not here in this book. 

I'll leave you with a few quotes that I found to be poignant.

"We all have struggles, though they look different-booze, anger, bitterness, pills, disconnection from our children or spouse, drugs, discontent with our career, conflict with our boss or neighbor, porn, homosexuality, depression, physical illness-it's all the stuff of present brokenness. And though we, the church, have little grace for certain struggles, that is why Jesus came. He came to save us for eternity, yes, but He also came to save us today."

"My child, do you believe that I love you?" That was the most important question of all, the one that's redefined me. It has never been about me getting it right. You either. We've got it all upside down. We see from the earth up, but God sees from heaven down. We see ourselves from the perspective of the mud we're sitting in, but God sees us through the blood of Christ that washes us clean, in the present, in the middle of our messes. And in His love, He wants to save us-in the present. He wants to give us strength for our broken, beautiful lives."  


Sheila reminds us that we are fully known and fully loved. She allows us to journey with her through some of the most difficult times in life, but what I love the most is she gives way for us to see that Jesus was there the whole time, past, present, and future. She not only shares the mess, but through it all she shares the Jesus, the Friend, pointing us straight to Him, never wavering side to side. This book is about her journey, but pulls back the curtain for us to see the glory of God at work in her life. Yes, the light is always on Him even when she is on stage. 

This is a book that blessed me and I cannot wait to gift it to a friend so they too can reap the in the blessings. 💙

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than five million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess series, Peace for Today, Loved Back to Life, The Storm Inside, Five Minutes with Jesus and The Longing in Me. She is cohost of Life Today with James and Betty Robison. Sheila lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

50 Hours by Loree Lough

When I knew Loree was releasing this new gem, the story behind it, I knew it was one I had to read. First, I love this lady. Her penned creations are more than words placed together. She brings a story together like no other author I've had the privilege of reading. She writes heart, soul, and reality. She knows how to not only touch the heart, but as that last page has turned the reader comes to ponder a change of the heart. 

She gives detail that intrigues and brings to life characters in which we immediately connect. She writes transparent stories with emotion that stirs the soul. With her novels, just as this one, I'm so excited to open the first page, but when the last closes I am left wishing I would have read a bit slower. They're those kind of novels you just don't want to end. I suppose reading her novels, especially this one is an experience. A journey for the reader, sometimes to travel to another time and place, but with this novel, it's a place we would rather not enter. But leave it to Loree to bring peace where fear is real, beauty where ugly is a tragic reality. She allows the reader to journey through an experience that brings grace, humility, and mercy. I was left with a hope that 'if that was me' I hope I do it that way. 

This is a bit of a different kind of love story. Love covers these pages, but it is a friendship that goes beyond what Hollywood would give. It's love of friendship. The unconditional kind. The kind that our Savior gives. 

Here in this novel Loree writes so gentle and pure. There is a beauty within these pages like no other novel she has yet to pen. The conversations between the characters are transparent in such a way we can only imagine if it were us there in the circumstance of fifty hours. Each of the characters have traits where the reader can easily find themselves. To remember we all have a story, to live in such a way that we are not just taking from this world, but leaving a legacy, yeah, that's what Loree portrays here in these words come to life. 

We meet a handful of characters. All facing life altering circumstances. Some are brought about by choice. Like the character, Franco Allessi. He starts out being somewhat hard. His choices have brought him in front of a judge who has to make the decision to bring Franco to a place where he can see that there is so much more to life than the sadness he has been living. He must do fifty hours of community service. 

Aubrey Brewer, oh, she is a woman of beauty and grace. She has known how to live. How to enjoy life to the fullest. But now everything has changed for her. How will she live out the ending? Yeah, that's the beauty of this masterpiece of black and white. We see how to live, how to appreciate, and how to place others before ourselves, all when we know our time is not the years we dreamed it would be. 

There is a young fella who is rooming next door to Aubrey. He's a smart-mouth, feeling pretty angry, and is about to explode with emotion he isn't sure as how to release. He doesn't want to be treated a baby, but I think to crawl up close to his parents is exactly what he would love. He and Aubrey have a special kind of relationship and through their time together we get a glimpse of what beauty looks like when we decide to let go and simply live out the moment of right now. 

So, fifty hours. For one it is a judgement of service. Franco starts out counting down the hours he has left. By the end of his time he's wishing for more. Aubrey knows she doesn't have much time left, but she has made the decision to live it, to push the boundaries and experience something that could have never come about in any other way. 

All of these characters are brought to life in a special way. It was a treasure getting to know them. Although I loved all the characters in this novel there is one who surprised me. Aubrey's mother. Oh, she's hard woman. One that everyone would rather avoid. Beyond that rough exterior, is a mother who is fearing saying goodbye to her only daughter. She's trying to figure out how to do it all and all she wants to do is protect her precious girl. I love how their relationship grew and toward the end of the novel her mother was gifted to see her daughter in an unexpected way. 

So, yes, this is anther gem penned by one of the great storytellers. Loree never ceases to bless my heart, but this one was something really special. It just may be my favorite so far. I cannot wait to see what this beautiful lady pens next. 💜

This novel is published by Rising Phoenix Press.

Loree Lough best-seslling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing across the US and Canada. Now and then she blows the dust off her six-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, four-and five-star reviews, and five book-to-movie options. At last count, Loree had 115 award-winning books on the shelves (nearly 7,000,000 copies in print). 

Loree enjoyes sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic how-to approach makes her a favorite speaker at writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the US and abroad. She and her husband live near Baltimore and spend as much time as possible at their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where Loree continues to hone her "identify the critter tracks" skills. 

A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See "Giving Back" at http://www.loreelough.com.) An active participant on most social media sites, Loree loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter personally. Be sure to stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix

I usually don't share so much of the story to where it spoils it for a reader. But here in this review it's hard to share without doing so. If you're eager to read this novel just skip my review. You may pick up this novel and love it. I wouldn't want to spoil a novel for one so anticipating it's reading. 

What caught my attention for this novel was the cover. The pondering of the space between words. You know those words not spoken, often held inside, and sometimes acted out. I thought the idea of treasure finding was exciting. After all I love antiquing and pondering the story behind the objects I'm holding. I too was excited to see this backstory of the Huguenots and the mystery of an ancient document and how it related to the main character.

This was one of those reads I didn't mind setting down. The problem was I didn't really want to go back and pick it up. I finally made my way through this novel. I did find places where my attention was growing, but those ended up empty. I really wanted to love this novel. It just wasn't there for me. 

Our main character is in Paris with two friends, roommates. Jennifer, the main character, has known Patrick for about four years. They are close friends, not romantic, but seem to have a special kind of bond. Vonda is the friend who is much younger and isn't afraid to speak her mind. At first her character is strength and she has an attraction to see the city and experience all that it has. 

Tragedy happens. Paris is attacked. Jennifer is shot. Wounded and trying to make it to safety. Vonda gets to safety, but much happens before she is able to find a secure place. Patrick was to stay behind with other plans while the girls attended a concert. 

Now, before Jennifer had left for Paris she lived with her parents on and off for many years. She left the last time wanting to make it on her own so she didn't have to fall back on their dependence. Finding two roommates excited her.

Next in the story Jennifer is awaken in the hospital. She finds Patrick at her side. The story leads on with conversations between the two. Where is Vonda? She comes to the hospital days later giving Jennifer clothes and toiletries. She's had enough. She's going home. But Patrick remains. 

Through all this she finally gets a hold of her parents to let them know she's okay. She's been shot, but she's okay and will be leaving the hospital in a few days. They are so wanting to come help. I can imagine how they are feeling, but Jennifer has a strange attitude toward them and that I found really odd. They of course are worried sick. They want to come and get her. She refuses their help. She says that Patrick if with her and will take care of her. 

She leaves the hospital and finds herself in Patrick's apartment. He isn't home, but soon arrives. They have conversations. He's begging her to stay. She wants to return home. He convinces her to stay with him. They decide to travel the country and find a B&B. These people who own the B&B are super kind and carrying. 

So, come to find out, yes, she has been in shock, and has had little money. How did she travel all this way? She isn't with Patrick at all. She is traveling alone. So many questions. But through the help of this couple they are going to help her search for this document and translate it. 

Are you ready? Patrick is dead. He was killed at the concert. He had changed his plans and was coming to attend. Jennifer has been suffering from PTSD and her brain has refused to see reality. Remember that Vonda was shy of being at the hospital and then didn't want to remain in Paris? Well, before Vonda could make it to safety she found Patrick. This strong and resilient girl is suffering too, but she sees reality. She wants to escape this place that brought such devastation

With all that said. I simply didn't feel the emotion of Jennifer's pain. As the story concludes I have no idea if she came to faith, knowing Christ as her Savior. This novel had great potential. But something was lost for me. Something missing. 

I am so sorry to give so much of the story away. Once Jennifer realizes that Patrick is gone she gathers the strength to carry on her mission of seeking the meaning of this document. She learns that the Huguenots carried great faith, but in that faith they had many choices to make that would be life or death. If they chose to say they loved Jesus they would be killed. If they chose to denounce their faith they could live. Many chose to denounce. I did enjoy how the document showed they battled flesh and faith, as they faced horrific times of injustice. 

Jennifer and those now helping her uncovered all of this information so very quickly. This is something I would expect to take quite a long time. Research for such things isn't uncovered so easily.

And then there's getting in Patrick's car, going to the apartment, gathering items, and traveling far from Paris, finding a B&B, doing so much, but not being in reality at all. That is just, well, a lot to believe that at some point she didn't have a break through and see some piece of reality. 

It seems I read so much of the story believing that Patrick was with her and was going to take care of her and then I find out he has died in the attack. I don't know. There was a lot of space for me that needed more details, more story, more Vonda. She was an interesting character that left the story quite early, until she and Jennifer finally speak again where she shares the depth of her anguish and why she wanted to return home so quickly. 

It just wasn't my kind of an afternoon unputdownable. It is my hope that you pick up this novel and find it amazing. Maybe I can come back and read it later at another time and will find it complete and be able to walk away with a blessing of some sort.  Maybe then I'll be able to change my review and share just why I loved it. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Michele Phoenix Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michele Phoenix is a consultant, writer, and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for twenty years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michele travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies, and paths to healing. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

One of the best reads I have held in my hands. The cover of this gem is very telling. Just beautiful. The description, although accurate, gives enough detail to intrigue a reader to open the pages, but not enough to give away the sheer beauty penned in these pages. 

If I had to sum up this novel with one word it would be hope. Oh, there's redemption, faith, family, friendship, love, and trial. 

We have three generations. All three with stories of their own. They come together for a surprise visit, although it seems it isn't a coincidence, but a master design by God. 

I didn't want to put this book down and in reading the last chapter I found myself wishing there was a book two for us to journey even more with these characters. The books centers around Hazel and the tragedy that seemed to stop life so many years ago. She has held a secret that even her daughter and granddaughter don't know. Now up in years she must face choices that have a lasting effect on not only her, but her family. 

I loved all the characters in this novel. Especially the daughter, Diane, and the granddaughter, Meghan. We see the relationship issues between all of these women. What I love about Sawyer is she gives us a transparent look into their hearts. We see what has taken place in the past and why they have held the emotions they have carried for years. Anger, blame, and frustration. 

It's easy to find yourself with in these pages. Oh, to have a grandmother such as Hazel, would be a gift. Love covers all and with God all things are possible. This is what I walk away with from reading this novel. To let the anger go and most of all to communicate with one another before it's too late and there isn't another opportunity given to share the heart. 

These ladies come together in so many ways, but once they make a decision to seek the story of the past healing comes and a whole new blessing arises from the faith they carry. 

This is one I loved. Happy reading. Enjoy!😊

This novel was a gift from Waterbrookmultnomah for sharing my review with you. 

Kim Vogel Sawyer is highly acclaimed, best-selling author with more than one million books in print, in several different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives with her retired military husband, Don, in central Kansas, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope and redemption. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and grandchildren.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

This may be the strangest review I have ever written. In reading the reviews for this one you will find a whole lotta people who loved it. There's a great message here about life, death, evil and good. This novel takes the tree of life and in black and white leads the reader into a journey of a young boy, Sam, whose mother dies in a tragic accident. He doesn't want to say goodbye. Doesn't want to live without her. We see his pain as he now must live without the love of his mother.

As the novel begins he comes face to face with three carnival fortune-tellers. It is here that he begins his search for the tree of life. He wants to bring back his mother.

His friend, Abra, is always at his side. She is the character I most enjoyed. She is filled with encouragement and love. We also have Mr. Tennin and Mr. Jinn. Of these characters he learns who to trust and where to make a stand. There too is the Amarok. The search for it and trying to kill it. Kind of a coming to age journey in who to invite into our life and where to place our boundary for protection.

When I opened this novel and began reading the first chapter I was excited to see where it was going. Sam is old in age and is now telling his story in first person. The chapters go back and forth from Sam in old age to Sam years back when he was a twelve year old boy. I loved the telling of the story when Sam was old in age. What I loved even more was the ending of this novel. The last chapter where the secret is coming to life. Okay, there is a second novel coming. This one is with Abra's story. This first novel feels like a first part to a larger more prevalent story.

This is a YA novel. The first novel for author Shawn Smucker. I kept waiting to be pulled in and have a greater understanding of the message. Yes, there's good and evil, the tree of life, and life and death. But I just couldn't connect with this story. Something was missing for me and I cannot even pinpoint what that is. Now, you may pick up this novel like others have and find it to be fascinating. I hope you do!! For me, it just didn't grab me. Maybe I wanted more of a message about the tree of life and salvation.

We are given the message that there is no fear in death. But there is a greater message there that for me wasn't relayed strong enough for an understanding of really knowing the meaning of the tree of life. There is no fear in death when Christ is our Savior. Without Him fear is present. Maybe that's it.

This is one I may go back and read again. Maybe in another setting, another mindset, I would really enjoy it. I am curious to see the next addition to this story as we journey more with Abra. 

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Day the Angels Fell is his first novel. www.shawnsmucker.com


Shine by Allison Allen

My first experience with Allison Allen was at Women of Faith. I was in attendance a few years to see her perform on stage. Even sitting many seats away, she was able to draw me near, pull me in, and forever change my heart. She is pure and transparent. That's the kind of girlfriend we all seek to find, but more importantly the woman we all need to be. 

She brings all she's learned from the theatrical stage and has brought it to life for us in ways that are so unique you are sure to find yourself within these pages. 

She's that cheerleader we all need in our corner. But many of us are short of cheerleaders. She guides us to finding ourselves in Christ, to being pure to who we are, and thriving to seek our role in the world around us. 

It can be suffocating trying to figure out who we are and where we belong. Especially as women. We compete with everyone around us and find ourselves falling short. Not because we are not worthy, but because we are trying to be someone we were not meant to be. We were meant to shine in our own skin and be present in our own life. 

This is a marvelous read for every woman of every age. Even a great book for Sunday school class, a youth group gathering, a small gathering of friends sharing coffee and heart. This is certainly a keeper for the shelf to go back to again on those days where Satan is roaring and we forget who we were to be and for whom we were meant to shine!! 

This book was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 


Allison Allen is a graduate of the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University and appeared in 650 performances of the Broadway production of Grease. A former Women of Faith dramatist and current Bible teacher, she speaks to women at conferences and retreats around the country, exploring themes of purpose, value, and identity in original unexpected ways. She lives with her family in Tennessee. 

Becoming Resilient by Donna Gibbs

If we aren't hurting right now, I'm sure the majority of us have in the past. We are not immune to pain and suffering. What Donna Gibbs has done here in these black and white pages is bring to life a way of getting unstuck in that wound that has kept us from living for far too long. That's something we can most likely all relate to. 

This isn't just a self-help kind of book. I'm not a fan of those. Ms. Gibbs brings the reader to the Word of God and that is the first key to removing ourselves from the suffering and trusting Him to lead us to a new life. Maybe unexpected, maybe not wanted, but circumstances bring wounds to us like we are in a battle. 

Knowing our pain isn't the issue. Asking why isn't the problem. It's remaining paralyzed in that deep gulf of destruction that leads us no where. Resilience. That's what Donna Gibbs offers us. She opens our eyes to developing resilience.

Here are a few headings in chapter two: Stop the Bleeding, Destructive Patterns (Destructive theology, destructive thinking), Poor Coping Skills (Asking the wrong questions, failing to place an appropriate boundary, obsession with injustice, over-analyzing, over-identifying as a victim,  prolonged denial, unrealistic expectations, tunnel vision catastrophizing). 

But first in chapter one she brings us to ask the question; What's normal about suffering? Here she brings us straight to the heart and truth of the matter. What are the sources of our pain? Our sin, the sin of others, hurting at the hands of God or Satan? These are questions where she doesn't just leave us hanging. She offers us a deep look inside and a beginning on a journey to healing. 

With each continuing chapter she gives a victory verse and personal questions to ponder. 

I found this profound: "It's easy to become fixated on the unfairness of the prosperity of someone who has wronged us. Often, we put our healing on hold, waiting for justice that may never come. We may find it difficult to move forward when there is unresolved injustice. It's important to remember that the bitterness associated with the obsession with injustice has little impact on the offender, but it is toxic to the person who is stuck."

This book continues on with such profound words that reach deep in the heart. It did for me on many levels. I have a friend who I will gift this book to. This is one of those books no wants to read, but one we all need. I found this book to be a journey. Just reading the words isn't enough. The reader must ponder them and make the choice to live them out. 

This book was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you.

Donna Gibbs is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, she is on the professional referral network for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuuum, and FINDINGbalance. A Christian counselor since 1998, she is director of A Clear Word Counseling Center and of marriage and support ministries for Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  

A Time To Stand by Robert Whitlow

A robbery. A shot. Thunder and lightning. There in the middle of the street in the heat of the dark an officer is face to face with a suspect. This is where the story begins, but it is far from where it ends. 

Here in my area, being close to St. Louis, the protests and riots over a criminal being shot by an officer, this novel brings a fresh and honest portrayal of justice at work when the truth is first on being sought out. 

The character, Adisa, stands out for me. I really admired her strengths and weaknesses. She walked with a great integrity and through circumstances in her life she is faced with coming true to who she is and what she believes. 

This is hometown South. A white officer is accused of shooting a black man. Adisa, a black attorney, feels one way about this case, but when she takes this case it is amazing to see truth prevail through her actions along with others to seek truth justice, not street justice. 

Through this novel we see the lives of the officer, the attorney, and the young man who was shot come to life before our eyes. Whitlow has long been a favorite for me. Choosing another novel penned by his talent was a no brainer, but I was really surprised at the content of this novel. I wasn't sure in what direction he would take these pages. He shows us that what's on the surface isn't always the truth and when we dig down deep we find that love, respect, and honor can come to life when we look beyond our self. Especially when we look beyond what generations have taught, what the media places in our face on the nightly news. This novel shows that hate gets us no where, racism is on all sides, and too often we don't want the truth, we just want to be angry. 

The more I read the more I wanted to spend time in these words. That's a clue I have a great read in my hands. I cannot wait to see what's next for Whitlow. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Robert Whitlow is the bestselling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. RobertWhitlow.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Paradise of Glass (The Glassblower Trilogy) by Petra Durst-Benning

What a series!! After reading, The Glassblower, I was an instant fan of Durst-Benning. So intrigued I had to move to the next in the series, The American Lady. Take a peek at both of my reviews 😊. 

Spending time in a novel is an investment of our time. We want to make the best of it, not wanting to feel we have wasted valuable time. Oh, this series is one you want to check out. It revolves around the glassblowers of Lauscha, Germany. Most of all the sisters who make their mark in history by standing up as women and doing things their own way. We see their strengths and their battles. We are allowed to witness these characters grow from being young girls at home with their father, to taking over the glassblowing business and creating something never imagined. 

For my Christian readers, this is not a Christian series. But as a lover of history and fiction I found myself swept away by the penned words of this author. I would share this series with my friends. 

This too is not a selection to read out of order. Yes, it could be read a stand-alone, but if so you will miss a great deal of understanding the heart of the Steinmann's. 

I love being introduced to new authors. That's what happened with this series. I am now reading another selection by this author, While The World Is Still Asleep. Another series that looks so inviting! 

Again in this series the author gives us great detail about the heart of the characters. In this novel the character focus is on Wanda, the daughter of Ruth, the middle sister of the Steinmann trio. 

Wanda travels from America, where she has been raised, to Lauscha. It's the year of 1911. She has heard so much of this glassblowing area, she knows this is where her family comes from, and she too is seeking something more. She is on the search to find out who she really is. She is a young character who has really fought to find out her true self. She's struggled in this with having parents who have given her everything. 

Wanda makes her way to Lauscha. She's here for a few months and has an opportunity to visit her Aunt Marie who is in Italy now with her new husband. Wanda wants to visit her and is allowed to make the trip. Circumstance happens, tragedy breaks her heart, and she is forced to make a decision that will effect the rest of her life. 

Laushca is home to her now. This is the place she has always dreamed to be the paradise of glass. We watch this young woman grow. She doesn't want to be under the shadow of her mother, but wants to stand out on her own like her Aunt Marie did. She's a dreamer and as we see she is fearless. We see her strengths and weaknesses. 

She's that young girl we can all relate to. She doesn't want to so much be alone. She thinks having a man with her somehow makes her more valuable. She soon realizes she on her own is worthy. 

During her visit home the aunt she is staying with, Johanna,  the oldest sister, travels with her husband to America to visit Wanda's mother, so we don't see this sister throughout the novel. I would have loved to see more of Johanna in these pages, but I understand the focus on Wanda. 

So, Wanda, in coming of herself and understanding all she can do in this small village, she wants to help the glassblowers as an outsider is about to make a purchase that will change life for everyone in Lauscha. This becomes the focus of the book, but there are many twists to the story-line as we get to see the prevailing of evil when people  decide to face their fear and doubt, taking a stand, even when the outcome is unknown. 

As much as I loved this series I was a little let down with this final novel of the series. I guess the first two held such beauty that I expected more. With that said, I enjoyed the journey with Wanda. We too see the relationship between Wanda and her mother, Ruth, grow. Yes, these sisters have come full circle as we are now seeing the second generation of women take their place and live as an example for others. 

Although the theme of this novel weaves around the decision of Wanda, it is about finding one's self, family, forgiveness, and acceptance. Most of all, leaving a legacy.Even though this novel wasn't all I had hoped it would be I wouldn't have put it down for anything. A great series that I will not soon forget.

This novel was a gift from Amazon-Crossing for sharing my review with you

Petra Durst-Benning has written seventeen novels. As a child and young woman, Durst-Benning frequently visited the United States, where she developed a passion for American fiction that has since inspired her own writing career. She now lives in her native Germany with her husband. 

Samuel Willcocks was a prolific translator from Czech, German, Romanian, and Slovene into English in many genres, including science fiction and historical novels. He studied languages and literature in Britian, Berlin, and Philadelphia before winning the German Embassy Award (London) for translation in 2010.

The Promise of Breeze Hill (A Natchez Trace Novel) by Pam Hillman

First I have to share that Tyndale is one of the top publishers that I love. I am not even sure if I have ever written a four star review for a Tyndale selection. They are rich in faith and true to Christian fiction. 

This novel did not disappoint. Hello? Where have I been that I have not read a novel penned by Pam Hillman? I am now a huge fan! 

The cover of this gem is what caught my eye. Just a beautiful cover. The description of this novel gives enough information so the reader is inquisitive, but doesn't give away too much. I love this! 

We go back in time to 1791. Deep into the south in Natchez, Mississippi. We find ourselves at Breeze Hill Plantation. The author does an outstanding job of allowing the reader's senses to capture this time and place. The characters are well developed. So much so you truly care about them, connect with them on some level, and find yourself wanting more of them. The story-line is captivating. 

Once I began reading I just didn't want to put down this novel. I love historical fiction. Here we get a bit of everything. Romance, mystery, all intertwined with faith. Characters walking in daily faith and others struggling to believe. We see the battle of the heart as well. 

Can you just see Isabelle walking the grounds of this plantation? She is a character that has much on her shoulders. She is gentle, has a heart of grace, and too a woman standing in a man's world. Circumstance has happened. Fire, sickness, and death have touched this beautiful place, leaving not only the heart of the home charred, but also the heart of those living here. Times are difficult. There's so much to be done, but Isabella knows she cannot do it alone. 

It is through this circumstance that we meet Connor O'Shea from Ireland. Again, the author gives the reader such a great vision as to not only what this character may look like, but what lies down deep that no other can see. Connor has a past, just like all of us. One he blames himself for. He fell victim to the deceit of another, which makes him cautious in trusting others. He is an indentured servant. He isn't one to just look out for himself, but for others. I love his character. 

We meet others here on the plantation and around. Some who are living good and others who are seeking evil. As Connor is working to bring back the plantation, others are seeking to destroy it. There is much to be gained by taking over this plantation, but Isabella and Connor stand strong against evil and we see God move through these two characters in such a way that couldn't have happened if they had not come together through the tragedies that surround them. 

Oh, there is just so much beauty within these pages. So much I wish I could share, but no reviewer wants to give away too much detail. You too should be able to enjoy this book to the fullest. 

These are words by Isabelle, "In my grief over Jonathan, I wanted to lash out, to blame someone. I pushed You away when I should have drawn closer to You than ever before. God, I'm sorry." These words stick out to me and say much about this novel. We are allowed to see the heart struggle of these characters. Some trusting people, and like Isabella, trusting God again. They carry their wounds deep, but try to remain steady in their own strength. What I love is that we see these characters encourage one other toward the Lord. We see them realize that nothing can be done or accomplished in our own strength. 

If you love historical fiction I encourage you to choose this beauty for your next read!! 

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you. 

Pam Hillman award-winning Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her novel Claiming Mariah won Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart award. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family. Visit her website at www.pamhillman.com.

AddToAny

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...