Monday, March 31, 2014

Take This Cup by Bodie and Brock Thoene

From the publisher:
Though there have been many stories about the Cup of Christ, the Holy Grail, after the Last Supper, this is the first imaginative account of the Cup’s previous history and significance. Nehemiah, the young son of a Jewish woman, a weaver from Jerusalem, is born and raised among the Jews who didn’t return to Jerusalem from the Exile. Educated by Rabbi Kagba, one of the magi present at Jesus’ birth thirty years earlier, Nehemiah grows up with the expectation of a soon-coming Messiah. Could the Yeshua of Nazareth, who is walking the earth, reportedly doing miracles, be that Messiah?
When young Nehemiah must travel the long caravan road to Jerusalem, he is charged with an unusual mission—to carry a mysterious object back to the holy city of Jerusalem . . . an object whose reappearance heralds the Messiah’s arrival.
Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem just as the final events of Jesus’ earthly ministry are coming to a climax: the Feast of Dedication, the Triumphal Entry, the last cleansing of the Temple, and culminating at the Last Supper in the Upper Room. Only Nehemiah understands the true sacrifice that is to come as he makes the cup worthy of his Savior.
The Thoenes are masters of history and fiction woven together.  Their Biblical fiction is filled with cultural and historical depth that will help the reader to appreciate and be drawn into the Biblical story.
This is the second book in the Jerusalem Chronicles.  Readers will not be confused if they read this as a stand-alone book, but they will appreciate it more if the do read the first one in this series as well as the A.D. Chronicle series.  
I have read numerous books by the Thoenes, so sometimes I just expect them to be historical and spiritually deep--but as I read this one I was surprised to find myself very touched.  
Readers will be drawn into the lives of Nehemiah and his family.  There is danger, risk, and love that will tug on the readers heart.  This will take them into the time period of Jesus and his last weeks on earth before His crucifixion.  Many Christians just numb to the idea of Jesus dying on the cross, but this made me ache anew at the idea of His sacrifice for me.  I am sure other readers will be touched as well.
There are certain Biblical things that I do not agree with, but if the reader spends time reading this book, and then comparing it with the Bible I believe it will be a great benefit to them.  
I received this book free from BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert

I want to thank Katie Ganshert and her publisher WaterBrook Press for an ARC of this fantastic book.  I have read Katie Ganshert's first two books and loved them.  This one will be on my top ten for 2014 and I know it will impact others as it has impacted me.

Even before I had the ARC in my hand I was intrigued to read it when I read this quote from Katie Ganshert,  "A Broken Kind of Beautiful was inspired by the greatest love story of all time--Jesus and His Bride.  Around the time I began plotting, I was thinking a lot about what makes the romance genre such a popular one.  I think it's because deep inside most women is this longing to be desired, pursued, fought for.  Not half-heartedly, but passionately.  Our men can't fill that longing, because our men aren't meant to.  That role belongs solely to Jesus.  He fights for us and pursues us with a passion we can't even begin to fathom.  I wanted to write a story about that romance, which is how A Broken Kind of Beautiful was born--a story of Jesus's relentless pursuit for one woman.  A woman who ultimately, could be any one of us."

Reading that quote made me realize again that Katie Ganshert is not an author to produce fluff.  She is writing out of her heart and her desire to share Jesus' love with others.  Her gift in writing is obvious when you read her books, and knowing her heart behind her writing reveals that she is going to remain as on of the best writers we have seen, especially in the way she writes God into each of her stories.

From the publisher:
Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong

Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four year old model Ivy Clark. Ten years in and she’s learned a sacred truth—appearance is everything. Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera. This is the only life Ivy knows—so when it starts to unravel, she’ll do anything to hold on. Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother’s bridal wear line—an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white. 

If only her tenuous future didn’t rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious new photographer. Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has. Somehow, Davis sees through the façade she works so hard to maintain. He, along with a cast of other characters, challenges everything Ivy has come to believe about beauty and worth. Is it possible that God sees her—a woman stained and broken by the world—yet wants her still?


Katie Ganshert has a way of writing that will cause you feel the emotions of the characters.  Her writing is deep and thought provoking yet easy to read.  The style of writing is one that is effortless to read and enjoy.  The story moves along smoothly, catching your attention at each turn in the plot, but you won't feel rushed or bogged down.

Ivy is a character that so many women, and even men, can relate to.  She is struggling with holding onto the one thing she thinks is her identity.  She doesn't even like what her identify may say about her, but at least it gives her some definition.  I felt an ache toward Ivy and all she was going through.  What amazed me what how the unconditional love of God was shown to her.

Davis Knight is also someone who is living his life in a way that shows he has not accepted God's unconditional love.  His story is different than Ivy's and will touch another group of readers who know God, love Him, but yet have done something in their lives they feel guilty for and cannot move past that.  Davis's character is as real, flawed, and engaging as Ivy's.

And of course, as a Christian romance novel readers will love the drama as it plays out between Ivy and Davis.  What I really appreciated in this area was that while we understood Ivy's world, the details were not written about in a way that would make anyone uncomfortable.  Many "Christian" novels have descriptions of scenes that are not Christian.  Katie Ganshert reveals Ivy's world to you in a classy Christian way.

My favorite character was Marilyn.  I had no idea that she would be the one that stuck with me the most, but she did.  I don't want to give away too much from the story, but the fact that Katie Ganshert wrote her into this story and how she did it, again shows what an awesome author she is.  This book is not one that soley focuses on just the two main love interests but expands to include others that will shape the character's and plot in the book.

This book will linger with you after you have read it.  The feelings of the characters and unconditional love will remain with you after you have closed the book.

I highly recommend this book.

Click here to purchase it from Amazon.

Click here to visit Katie Ganshert's website.

Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

From the publisher:
Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.


This is the third book in the Edge of Freedom series.  I have read the first book in the series and now this one.  I highly recommend reading all three and in order.  If you just read this one alone you will feel lost at parts.  It is still a great story, but without the context of the other two stories the reader may feel frustrated at what details they don't understand.  

Elizabeth Ludwig is a great story teller.  She shares history and mystery in an engaging manner.  Readers will be on the edge of their pages as Tillie, Captain Morgan, and the other characters try to figure how to save their lives.  

The romance in the story is sweet to watch unfold, and many readers will relate to Tillie's feelings of unworthiness.  As humans we often feel that we need to punish ourselves for the wrongs we have done, but what Ludwig brings out is that God forgives us when we ask, and we must allow ourselves to live in that grace.

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

Monday, March 3, 2014

A March Bride by Rachael Hauck

From the publisher:
Susanna has found her true prince, and their happily ever after is just around the corner. But when Nate asks her to give up something precious to her, Susanna can't help but wonder if it's a sign that their love is not meant to be. Susanna Truitt (Once Upon A Prince) is three weeks from royalty. She'll soon marry King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. But when the government insists she renounce her American citizenship before the wedding, coupled with the lack of involvement by family and friends, Susanna's heart begins to doubt whether this marriage is God's plan for her. Nathaniel would do anything for his bride-to-be. But he knows his position requires that she give up a lot to be with him. Her life will never be her own---right down to her very identity. When she travels home to St. Simon's Island, Georgia, right before the wedding, Nathaniel fears she won't return. Gathering his courage, he devises a plan to win his bride all over again, and together they seek out a kingdom to treasure above all.

I definitely recommend reading Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck before reading this novella, but even if you don't you will be able to enjoy this book.  This novella is part of the wedding series where each month is a short novella.  This one picks up about 10 months after Once Upon a Prince ends.  So for the readers who have read this book will enjoy this novella.  

It seemed like an epilogue to the book and it was therefore fun to know more about these characters and be a part of the royal wedding.  

Hauck puts a good message in there too that titles and roles don't define us, but rather being children of God is our main defining role.

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

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dancing with Fireflies

From the publisher:
Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.
Denise Hunter has a way of pulling you into the story.  I easily fell into Jade's story and into the Chapel Springs settings.  Having read Denise Hunter's previous book in the series, and her novella in the wedding series I knew I would enjoy her writing.  I was not disappointed.  Readers of Barefoot Summer will be happy to see Beckett and Madison in this book and learning more about the McKinley family.  Each sibling has a story to tell and readers will want to read about all of them.
Jade is a flawed character but one that you want to cheer for.  Her struggles and desires for good, even when not realistic cause the reader to be rooting for her as she makes her way through the story. Reading about her choices and love for her unborn baby was very touching.
 Daniel is a solid and strong presence in the book and in Jade's life.  Readers will hurt for Daniel and be amazed at his selfless care.  Both characters have some challenges that they must face and this will keep you turning page after page.  I didn't feel rushed to read fast but the story just flowed from one page to the next.  I really enjoyed it. I only wish that there had been further development about both of their relationships with God.  The end of that seemed rushed to me. 
I would recommend this book to others.
I received this book free from BookLookBloggers in exchange for my honest review.