Friday, June 28, 2013

Rescue Team by Candace Calvert

From the publisher: 
Tired of running from her past, nurse Kate Callison intends to become Austin Grace Hospital’s permanent ER director and make Texas her home. Despite staff friction, she’s moving ahead. Then unthinkable tragedy wraps the ER in crime tape, bringing swarms of media, legal chaos—and a search-and-rescue hero who seems determined to meddle in her life. 

For Wes Tanner, nothing beats finding someone who’s lost; he’s known that helpless terror firsthand. So he’ll expand his team’s lifeline of hope: K9 tracking, swift water rescue, even horse-mounted searches. He’s ready for anything—except Austin Grace’s prickly and dismissive ER director. 

As Kate and Wes discover more about each other, new respect becomes something deeper. Kate wonders if her heart might have finally found a home. Then an unsolved missing persons case—and a startling new one—become catalysts that threaten the loss of all she and Wes have found.


I enjoyed reading this book.  I have never read anything from Candace Calvert before but after this book I will be looking to read more of her work.  

In some books the male characters are almost supporting characters or not strongly written.  Candace Calvert does a good job of having Wes Tanner as a main leader in the book. Kate was also well written and I enjoyed reading their interactions through out the book.  

Forgiveness is main theme in this book and all of the characters seem to have something to work though and forgive themselves or learn to forgive others.  Forgiveness is something everyone can relate to whether they are Christian or not.  There were a lot of moments that had me paused to think about how I deal with other in situations and how I could be more forgiving.  The relationships broken and healed in this story were touching to read.

This book was quick paced and kept me interested in what was happening next.  There were a few subplots but these did not detract from the main story going on through the book.  The only thing I wasn't so sure about was that a few loose ends were left for some of the supporting character's stories, but maybe these will be tied up in another book.  Either way, the main stories were all concluded and I enjoyed the read.

24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth

From the publisher:
"Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."Sounds nice, but how do we find rest in a 24/7 world? Just as the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, we have become slaves to technology. Our technological tools allow 24-hour productivity and connectivity, give us more control, and subtlety enslave us to busyness itself. Sabbath is about restraint, about intentionally not doing everything all the time just because we can. Setting aside a day of rest helps us reconnect with our Creator and find the peace of God that passes all understanding. The Sabbath is about letting go of the controls one day a week and letting God be God. So how do we do it?In 24/6, Dr. Matthew Sleeth describes our symptoms, clarifies the signs, diagnoses the illness, and lays out a simple plan for living a healthier, more God-centered life in a digitally-dazed, always-on world. Sleeth shares how his own family was dramatically transformed when it adopted Sabbath practices and helps readers better understand how their own lives can be transformed - physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually - by adopting the 24/6 lifestyle.


This was a great book.  I was surprised to find a book written about keeping the Sabbath by someone who didn't press a certain day.  His focus is on honoring a day with God and keeping it holy.  While I personally believe that Saturday is the seventh-day, as the Bible declares, this book in really can be a blessing to everyone. I can already think of people that I would like to give this as a gift to.  

Each chapter I would highlight multiple sections.  I loved this book.  I felt a clearer idea of the Sabbath and was thrilled to hear Dr. Sleeth speaking about the Sabbath.  This is such a needed book for this day and age.  We are rushing ourselves and don't make any time for restoring ourselves with God spiritually, physically  mentally.  

I appreciated that Dr.Sleeth took time to address certain concerns with keeping the Sabbath and what it would "look like".  He writes in such a way that doesn't come across as preachy, but rather as someone who is learning about keeping the Sabbath and wants to share the blessings with others.  

At the end of the book there was as whole chapter/section of Bible verses for you to pray and study over pertaining to rest, Sabbath, and time with God.  Dr. Sleeth has obviously done his research and wants to share the Biblical foundation of keeping the Sabbath holy with God.  

I highly recommend this book to others.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Road Trip to Redemption by Brad Mathias

From the publisher: Brad Mathias thought everything in his family was fine. A busy, contented dad, he had vaguely noticed that Bethany, his middle child, had become withdrawn and moody, but he assumed it was part of being a “teen” and didn’t look any deeper. Until the night God spoke clearly to Brad and his wife: Ask her to reveal what she has hidden. They did—and learned the secret Bethany had been carrying, one that rocked their family to the core. In a desperate attempt to reach their daughter and to reconnect as a family, Brad and his wife piled everyone into the car and embarked on a wild, crazy, seven-thousand-mile, what-are-we-thinking trip across the country. As they drove, they realized how far apart they’d drifted, found unexpected blessings along the way—and journeyed together from pain and loss to recovery and redemption. In this book, Brad shares stories from the road about God’s grace, gives practical tips on what he learned about reconnecting as a family, invites you to consider your own epic journey as a mother or father, and calls you to trust wholeheartedly in the amazing love God has for your kids.


The first section of this book the author sets the stage to why the family took the road trip.  In this section Brad Mathias is very candid with his own personal mistakes and how it affected his family.  He does not shy away from his role to play but instead lays it out and then show the reader how God turned him around and taught him to rely on his Savior.

The second section is where the story of the road trip happens.  Not every day is detailed and written about but Mathias highlights important parts of their trip.  Included are small journal entries from the children and his wife, Paige.  There is also a longer section written by each of them, which I thought was really nice because it helped you see from their point of view.

I enjoyed seeing how God worked in this family's life and there were many ideas and truths that Mathias brought up.  He doesn't say that everyone should do things exactly as he did or go on a road trip--but he does encourage the reader to be in the Word of God and really listen for God's direction for your own family.  

If someone did want to go on a road trip the book does provide some resources on that.  

On a personal note: My family took many road trips when I was a child and it was a wonderful experience and I have very fond memories of it.  I do believe it bonded us as a family.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pray the Scriptures: A 40-day Prayer Experience by Kevin Johnson

From the publisher: 
Bestselling Author and Pastor Shows Christians How to Pray the Scriptures

Pray the Scriptures is a 40-day prayer experience for readers hoping to energize their prayer life and draw closer to God through his very word. Using familiar passages of Scripture, the author guides the reader in the process of selecting and praying back to God the words of the text as they apply to the reader's life and circumstances. "Prayer starter" phrases jump-start the participant's practice of writing and speaking Scripture prayers.

Each day's entry includes an introductory devotional, a Scripture text, and concluding thoughts and questions for reflection, discussion, and further prayer.


This is a 40 day devotional study that could be used individually or even in a small group.  Each day is one Bible passage that draws the reader to really explore that passage instead of just reading it and  moving on.

It seems that part of "praying" the scriptures is to really talk to God about what the scriptures mean, and what it means to each person.  The reader can use these are their only devotional time, or they could use it as a starting point for their own journal time with God.  After going through the 40 days of praying scripture, I believe the reader will have a basic idea of how to do this on their own, with a different Bible passage if they wanted to.  And that I believe is one of the best things about this book.  It is not just a book that you read, journal, and put down--rather it can be a book that can help someone see each Bible passage as a way to pray to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

While most of the scripture passages are in the New Testament, there are about 1/4 that are from the Old Testament.  I wish there were more Old Testament passages, but that is just a person preference.  

Both experienced and novice Bible students could enjoy and benefit from this book.

I received this book free from Bethany Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  

All for a Song by Allison Pittman

From the publisher: Dorothy Lynn Dunbar has everything she ever wanted: her family, her church, her community, and plans to marry the young pastor who took over her late father’s pulpit. Time spent in the woods, lifting her heart and voice in worship accompanied by her brother’s old guitar, makes her life complete . . . and yet she longs for something more.

Spending a few days in St. Louis with her sister’s family, Dorothy Lynn discovers a whole new way of life—movies, music, dancing; daring fashions and fancy cars. And a dynamic charismatic evangelist . . . who just happens to be a woman. When Dorothy Lynn is offered a chance to join Aimee Semple McPherson’s crusade team, she finds herself confronted with temptations she never dreamed of. Can Dorothy Lynn embrace all the Roaring Twenties has to offer without losing herself in the process?

***There might be some SPOILERS in here so, proceed with that warning. ******
I had a hard time getting into this book, but some of my favorite books have been hard to start and then picked up.  This one I just wasn't into.

The book switches back between 2010 and the 1920s.  Dorothy is over 100 in 2010 and is about to have a birthday, whereas the Dorothy is the 1920s is about to turn 19.  Dorothy makes a lot of foolish mistakes and I don't feel that the consequences that she had were real.  Her relationship with Roland and the fact that she still seemed to love him at her old age made me uncomfortable.  I realize that readers could feel that he was good for her since he offered her a different life and she went back to Brent, her fiancee, that he is who helped her really decide who she was.  Dorothy was flighty and got to do all the things she wanted without any real consequence--and I think that's slightly unrealistic considering all that she did.

It was interesting to read about Aimee McPherson's crusade team, but the way she was portrayed did not make me a fan of her or her method of "saving souls" and sharing Jesus.  Allison Pittman, it seemed also showed how it was just a bunch of show because Dorothy wasn't able to really connect with God and write music while she was on the road with the crusade.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

All in Good Time by Maureen Lang

From the publisher: Dessa Caldwell has a dream: to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver’s roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank.

Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he’s the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he’s built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him . . . until the day Dessa Caldwell ventures into his bank requesting a loan.

Though he’s certain her proposal is a bad investment, Henry is drawn to Dessa’s passion. But that same passion drives her to make rash decisions about Pierson House . . . and about whom she can trust. One man might hold the key to the future of her mission—but he also threatens to bring Henry’s darkest secrets to light. As the walls around their hearts begin to crumble, Henry and Dessa must choose between their plans and God’s, between safety and love.


This is the second book of Maureen Lang's that I have read.  In both of her books that I've read she creates a story that has romance but also some intensity and mystery.  Readers will enjoy reading quickly as they can to see what Dessa run head-long into and how she gets out.  They will enjoy the quick paced nature of the book.

I enjoyed that both characters, Henry and Dessa, have pasts that they wish were not a part of them.  Through the book they either discover or show that they realize that God can be the One to give them the new beginning and hope.  Readers will find themselves relating to this, I believe, because each of us have done things we are not proud of--and to read that there is a God who loves us and gives us a hope and a future is comforting.

It is a love story that placed in a historical setting that sadly is still happening today.  Prostitution and sex-trafficking are happening today and I believe this novel opens our eyes to the horror and will hopefully move us to action.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Band of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke

From the publisher: Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father’s debt but can’t find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, whom Olivia begins to see as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding. As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?


In the author's note, Cathy Gohlke shares that she was challenged to write a book about a current and relevant topic by her son.  Cathy Gohlke has done just that.  In a book the details some of the history of "white slavery" or women being sold into prostitution she bring to the readers mind the horrors of it.  And in doing so, Cathy Gohlke brings to mind that this is not a past issue--instead this is a real issue that goes on in the world today and must be addressed.  I was very impressed with Cathy Gohlke's ability to draw us into a story about women, sisters, and the men who love them, and the men who lusted after them and used them--to teach the modern day readers that there are still others who are out there who need to be defnded and fought for, and we are to do what jesus would do.

This book can be an inspiration for anyone.  Whether or not you feel called to help in the cause mentioned in this book, or another cause that is near and dear to your heart--Cathy challenges her readers with the characters who are challenged to ask themselves "What would Jesus do here and now?"  And then to live that out themselves.  And that is what we, as Christians must do.

Cathy Gohlke's character's tug at your heart.  Each character has their own strenghts and weaknesses but each one is struggling toward doing what they feel is right and best.  Woven through the book is the strong theme that God is forgiveness and love, even when we think we are below it.  

There are so many lessons that each character must learn and deal with and that makes this book a soul searching book for the reader to take a look at their own lives and see what it is that God is trying to do in their life.

This book will keep you reading and turning the pages, to find out what happens next.  Not everything is tied up neat and tidy at the end--but that also make it more realistic and heartbreaking--and it should motivate us to do something now to change the fate for other women in the world.

I highly recommend this book.

You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

From the publisher: To everyone who knows her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses her kids’ sporting events, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the sleepy town of Deep Haven, Deidre got a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker. Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on bail and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the grace to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?


This book definitely had me turning the pages quickly.  Susan May Warren writes of a world that most people don't know about or experience.  Warren does a good job with allowing the reader some insight into this world while writing a good story.

What I thought was particularly compelling was at the end of the book, Warren shares that she got the idea for the book from a real life experience of meeting a mother who was going to say good-bye to her daughter because she was entering the Witness Security Program.  It made the story more real to realize that this really is something that is happening and going on.

In the book the Witness Security Program is something that protects Deidre but it also robs her of her family and the feelings of safely.  The reader will feel the lingering haunting along with Deidre/Annalise as the book goes along.  

Readers will get to know Annalise, her children, her husband, and her security agent.  Each character is important and the reader comes to know them.  I was pleased with one of the characters not being who they were labeled as.  I think Warren did a good job of showing that not everyone is how they first seem--for good or for bad.

Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes

From the publisher: "From the best-selling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heartrending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of adulthood, eighteen-year-old Penny Carson is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign town, Penny's happily-ever-after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn't the last, yet the bruises that can't be seen are the most painful of all.

When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to find her own."


This book amazed me.  Gina Holmes took a very hard subject and made it into something sweetly painful and beautiful.  What makes me say that is that the book is written from Penny's point of view to her son, because she says that one day the son will ask about his father.  This point of view goes through the whole book.  Which means that there are not things disgusting or detailed in the description of the abuse or otherwise.  Reading the book from Penny's point of view to her son made the book that much more touching to read.

Gina Holmes has done a great job with creating the feelings of not only Penny but her friends that the reader can relate to.  If you have never been abused then it is easy to see from the point of view of the friends.  If you have suffered abuse then you can sympathize with Penny as she struggles through her decisions.  

While the book deals with heavy issues, there are places to laugh and relax and so the book is not a book that you feel pulled into a dark place.  Rather, in the way Gina Holmes has written it, you feel the pull of light from God through the whole book.  Especially as Penny talks to her son and you see that she is safe and in a better place.

I also really appreciated that while Gina Holmes brought up different verses from the Bible dealing with divorce and remarriage, she did not make it a platform to state her point of view.  

I would highly recommend this book to others.  

Sparkly Green Earrings:Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle

From the publisher:
"There is really no better indicator you’re a mother than acquiring the ability to catch throw-up in a plastic bag, disinfect your hands, and immediately ask your friend to pass the beef jerky as you put on another Taylor Swift song and act as if nothing has happened.”

This is the type of insight Melanie Shankle offers in this quirky memoir of motherhood.

Written in the familiar, stream-of-consciousness style of her blog, Big Mama, Sparkly Green Earrings is a heartwarming and hilarious look at motherhood from someone who is still trying to figure it all out. Filled with personal stories—from the decision to become a mother to the heartbreak of miscarriage and ultimately, to the joy of raising a baby and living to tell about it—Sparkly Green Earrings will make you feel like you’re sitting across the table from your best friend. A must-read for anyone who’s ever had a child or even thought about it.


I had a friend who reviewed this book.  I read the review but didn't have the desire to pick up the book at that moment.  However, I was wrong.  I should have picked it up right away!  Melanie Shankle is an author I want to continue to read.  

Throughout the book I laughed and chuckled.  Her insight and advice from motherhood is laced with humor and will guarantee that at some point the reader will be laughing along as they read.  Melanie really did catch the light at every turn.  She turns sour situation into ones that the reader can laugh at and try to see the humor in the reader's own life in similar situations.

The other part of catching the light at every turn was in the way Melanie saw the joy in each situation.  Of course she isn't perfect, but who is, and it made her easy to relate to.  She shares her love for God and her husband and daughter--all the while growing in those areas.  She catches the light at every turn with love and laughter.  It is a fun and beautiful read.

The chapters were short and easy to read.  While I quickly read through the book, a reader could easily read a chapter at a time and enjoy each tid-bit without needing to rush through the book or feeling that they had to commit to sitting down a spending a big chunk of time reading right then.

I would recommend this book to people with or without children.  I know they will enjoy it.