Thursday, December 24, 2015

Waiting for you by Louie Giglio

From the publisher:

Waiting Here For You takes us through the advent – the season of waiting. In it we see the story of the coming of Jesus. It teaches us that waiting is the means God often uses to carry his plans in our lives. And it brings us back to the truth that our waiting is never wasted when we are waiting on God.

Join pastor and author Louie Giglio and take hold of the chance to uncover the vast hope offered through the journey of Advent. Find peace and encouragement for your soul as anticipation leads toward celebration!

Waiting is not wasted when it is waiting with the Lord.


This is a small book that would be a great light read for someone during the Advent season. 

Each day has a short message and lyrics. People will enjoy reading this as a light read. It isn't anything in depth or lengthy but it can be thought provoking.

I wished that there has been a bit more to each day, whether longer, or discussion/journaling questions at the end. However, it did have things I enjoyed and underlined. 

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Whatever Is Lovely Coloring Book

From the publisher:
We live in such a busy, hectic world—but what waits for you inside this cover is a way to quiet the noise, express creativity, and spend some sweet time with God. Each page features an original design from one of a dozen different artists, beautifully illustrating a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, a beloved hymn, or Scripture

This coloring book is so beautiful. Each page has a beautiful scripture or quote that will draw you to God's heart. The pictures to color are detailed and inviting. 

Each picture can be removed and frames too, and the back is blank with another quote. 

I already have people in mind that I want to give this too. I can't wait to color in it myself and can see how this book is not only a relaxing but is also another way to draw near to God.

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Safe House by Joshua Straub, PhD.

From the publisher:

You don’t need to do all the “right” things as a parent. Both science and the Bible show us that the most important thing we can provide for our kids is a place of emotional safety. In other words, the posture from which we parent matters infinitely more than the techniques of parenting.

Emotional safety—more than any other factor—is scientifically linked to raising kids who live, love, and lead well. Learn how to use emotional safety as a foundation from which you parent—and make a cultural impact that could change the world!

I think this is a book that all parents need to read.  There are so many books about how to parent, techniques and strategies (and they aren't bad, believe me, I've read some to help my sanity!) but what matters is the foundation of the family.  In this book I believe that this was the emphasis.  Emotional safety for your children is what matters most.  If they are emotionally safe, then you can figure out all the other things that come.

But don't be deceived, this doesn't mean the children get whatever they want.  There is a balance (the four walls of the safe house) between grace and truth, and exploration and protection.  The four walls, as the author says, need to be balanced. 

I am glad that I read this, and would recommend it to any other parent.  I think the younger the kids are when you read this, the better.

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ten Thousand Shall Fall by Andrea Boeshaar

From the publisher:
Nineteen-year-old Carrie Ann Bell is independent and spirited. The only thing she really fears are the Union soldiers fighting against her Confederate friends. When her youngest sister runs away from home, brave Carrie Ann is determined to find her and bring her back. Disguised as a soldier, she sets off--only to find she's fallen into the hands of the enemy.
Her childhood friend Confederate Major Joshua Blevins has warned her against these Yankees: they're all devils, ready to inflict evil on unsuspecting young women. When Colonel Peyton Collier arrests her for her impersonation of an officer, it seems to confirm all her fears.
Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel. He rescued her, protected her, and has been every inch the gentleman. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally--and more than that, someone she could love. But the arrival of Joshua in the Union camp as a spy will test her loyalties. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?
I was eager to read this book as the setting is very familiar to me.  I loved to read all the historical details that Andrea Boeshaar put into this book.  The conversations of the characters were rich which historical information.  Yet, Boeshaar doesn't bog you down with the details and instead just makes it a part of the conversation so that the story ebbs and flows. I already want to read her sequel to this novel, not only to find out more about the characters but also the war history.  She also did not glorify the war but let its horror show.  However, this was not in a gory way, but still it allowed you to feel the pain of war.
Some of the book was a little frustrating because of the interactions between Carrie Ann and Peyton.  They declare that they love each other but their actions did seem to show it up until they said it.  Also, there were tragic events about Carrie Ann's family that she seemed to just brush off in certain circumstances, and then in others it effected how she responded to others.  In general the characters seemed to say things instead of showing them in their actions.
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

From the publisher:
On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.

I loved this novella.  This is the perfect Christmas novella to read.  It is rare to be so thoroughly immersed in a novella with this many characters but somehow Cynthia Ruchti makes you feel that you know each character and it isn't overwhelming at all.  Instead you feel a part of this wonderful family and Christmas experience. There is also a lot of depth to the novella, about family and how love that might seem perfect comes from hard work and forgiveness and trust and many other things all wrapped up together.  

I am now eager to read both the non-fiction and fiction book from Cynthia Ruchti. 

I received this novella from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

From the publisher:
Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend, James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.
In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother, Helen, hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.
As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom as Helen confronts ghosts from her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of impossible circumstances.
Now Lucy must face her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

This book surprised me.  In fact, I think every book that I have read by Katherine Reay has surprised me and in a good way.  The Bronte Plot is not what you expect and instead you get something deeper. 

 Lucy Alling is a character that you are not sure you like, yet you do like, because you are like her.  As Helen and she adventure in London you are amazed and drawn into all the details that Katherine Reay has put in.  It is as if she was walking in the same places and has you right there with each of the characters.

The way that literature is woven into this story will make any literary lover happy, even if they don't know all the references, it is fascinating to see how seamlessly the author puts it all together.

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

From the publisher:
Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.
Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.
The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel in turn rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to this knight than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position?
As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery is about to be revealed after seventeen years of lies. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?
I was impressed more and more as I read this book. Melanie Dickerson has this gift for taking a fairy tale that we are all familiar with and deepening and broadening.  The spiritual aspects of this book were the best parts to me, the way the characters turn to God and grow in Him through encouragement of others was really uplifting and challenging to read.  
I loved the way Dickerson developed Rapunzel and Gerek.  The things they felt and did were realistic and the author showed this through her writing.  She did not just tell you how they were or felt but really developed them.
I read this book in one day because I couldn't put it down.  I wanted to read more and more and see how things turned out.  Even though the fairy tale is familiar there were twists and turns and surprises along the way that kept you wanting to read.  
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Love In the Details by Becky Wade

From the publisher:
When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.

Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn

As soon as I read the first pages, I felt myself sinking into this novella.  Josh and Holly's high school love that ended too soon made my heart ache.  Yet, it shows how sometimes things that happen, that we won't enjoy--can still benefit us in the end.  Holly and Josh have grown since they have been apart and also grow with their interaction to each other. I love how Becky Wade's book can make you swoon and feel all romantic, and yet she tucks in truths that are solid and deep.

Becky Wade's writing is wonderful.  Even in this novella you could tell that she was the type of writing to draw you in and keep you.  I wanted to read more about Josh and Holly, but the novella was perfect in its novella form. 

I received this ebook free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Amish Christmas at North Star by Cindy Woodsmall, Mindy Starns Clark & Emily Clark, Amanda Flower, and Katie Ganshert

From the publisher:
One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania. 
Rebekah’s babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star
 by Katie Ganshert

Curiosity gets the best of Englisher Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world? 

Mourning Star
 by Amanda Flower

Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents’ fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac Yoder.  Who is guilty? Isaac’s handsome great nephew Jacob, an angry Englisher, or someone else?

In the Stars
 by Cindy Woodsmall

Kore Detweiler has nursed his broken heart, avoiding North Star after Savilla Beiler suddenly rejected his love.  But when he is called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace
 by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark

Andy Danner left North Star to work in construction in a new Amish settlement in Louisiana. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas, and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in an old widower’s life.

This was an interesting concept for a book. To have four novellas that all worked together.  I liked the idea of it, but I felt that one of the stories didn't really match the others.  It is not that Eden's story was not well written, rather, it did not flow with the basic ideas of the other ones. 

Overall each story was engaging and I kept wanting to read so that I could find out what happened next and how the stories tied in together.  I was pleased to read the epilogue and have a "wrap-up" for all the stories.

I also really enjoyed that Katie Ganshert and Cindy Woodsmall had characters from previous books mentioned.  I always think that is fun!

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin

From the publisher:
When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God's guidance. After fasting and prayer, he's given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving. 

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

This is the third and final book in the Restoration Chronicoles which document the minor prophets of Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah.  

I thought it was very interesting the prologue to this book and how Lynn Austin created an additional drive for Nehemiah to be protective and makes sure others are protected.

There are three main characters in this book and their stories work together to portray all different aspects of what was going on during that time.  It was heart breaking to read about families selling children to be bond servants.  But it also opened your eyes to different view points of those at that time. 

Lynn Austin does amazing research into the time and people.  Readers of Biblical historical fiction will want to read this and really take themselves into the world of Nehemiah and the Jews during this time period.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Owls: Our Most Charming Bird by Matt Sewell

From the publisher:
The owl is one of nature’s most captivating creatures. In this enchanting guide, artist Matt Sewell brings to life fifty species from around the world. From the adorable Eurasian Pygmy Owl, small enough to fit in your pocket, to the Great Gray Owl, celebrated for its size and elegance—these charming illustrations are sure to delight anyone intrigued by these wise and wonderful animals.

This little book is the cutest book I have ever seen on owls.  I loved each section and picture.  The descriptions were not bland at all.  Instead they brought new life to the owls, even if you are familiar with them.

The end of the book was a checklist where you could mark off the owls you had seen. This makes the book even better because it makes readers want to go and see the owls and learn more about them.

This book could easily be for a child or adult.  It makes the reader believe that owls really are our "most charming bird."

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

From the publisher:
Whether chosen and celebrated--like going off to college or welcoming your first baby--or unexpected and anxiety-inducing--like losing a job or grappling with a broken trust--all change brings stress. Kristen Strong knows about change--especially the kind you didn't choose or expect. What she's fought hard to learn over the years is that change is not something to be feared but something to be received as a blessing from a God who, more often than not, works through change, not in spite of it. Strong has learned to see change not as a grievance but as a grace.

I would have recommended this book just for chapter three alone.  It was incredible.  But the fact is that the whole book was a blessing to read.  Kristen Strong takes you through three stages of change: acknowledge, accept, and adapt.  In each section she allows you to feel and admit the pain and change going on, yet points you to God and the blessings He has for you. In the book she shares personal stories of herself and others, as well as scripture.  This combination is powerful because it shows how the same God in the Bible is the same God working today in your own life.

I am going through a lot of changes right now, and that's why I wanted to read this book.  I am so glad I did.  It was a blessing and I will be recommending and sharing this book with others.

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

The Time Garden: A magical journey and coloring book by Daria Song

From the publisher:
The Time Garden features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and colorable. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.

I have never reviewed a coloring book before and was excited to see what Daria Song would give us.  This coloring book for adults is magical.  It is a perfect coloring book because it excites the imagination and the child in all of us.  The drawings are not just single pages to be colored but rather it tells a story and takes you through a journey.

Daria Song has created this beautiful book for adults and children to enjoy and I really enjoyed it.  It is a thick coloring book so it isn't something to fly through but take your time.

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb

This is a book I am glad, so very glad is published for parents and children.  As a mother I want my children to know that God made them and every part of them is good but some parts of private.  This book allows children to put away the guilt or embarrassment or shame of their private parts--all the while realizing that the private areas as not for sharing.

As a former teacher this is a book I would want to have in the hands of every parents.  This book deals with the difference between secrets and surprises and about how just because a part of your body is private or not, you have the right to say no.  Children will be able to relate to the illustrated characters and this is a book that does not have detailed body pictures and therefore is a safe book to have around the house for all ages.

I cannot express what an amazing book this is, so you need to go get it for your family to see for yourself.

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Citrus by Valerie AIkman-Smith and Vicotira Pearson

The beautiful recipe book drew me from the cover.  I thought, "Wow! I'd like to make that!"  And so it was through the book.  The beautiful and yet simple photographs drew me into the recipes. The directions and needed ingredients were neatly laid out.  The layout was simple and clean.  There was not any clutter in the book.

Not all the ingredients are common or easy to find, but if the reader wanted to make the dishes they could with just a little extra effort to find or make what was needed.

This book is organized by citrus (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruits, etc.) but if you want it by dishes there is also a table of contents where the recipes are organized by courses.

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

Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story converge DVD

Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story Converge

From the publisher:
This five-week small group resource helps spark spiritual conversations. Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of the church is a worthy, yet often difficult and intimidating task. Intersect was designed to help overcome those barriers. It is an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations. 


This DVD is a good beginning resource for drawing people together to begin spiritual discussions.  And honestly, it isn't even always just with those outside the church that it is hard to have spiritual discussions with but those inside the church as well.  So this could be something that someone who wants to have a small group at their house could study.  

This is easy to use, as the leader would only need to read two pages in preparation for the meeting and then play the DVD and ask a few questions to generate discussion.  

Each of the five sessions are personal stories that open up spiritual discussion.  The videography is well done and pleasant to watch without being distracting to the story that the individual is telling.

I received this DVD free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert

From the publisher:
Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower and the proud owner of Forget-Me-Nots, a quaint flower shop that once belonged to her mother. Despite her success in business, her love life has always been a bit lackluster. Until she spies on her ex-boyfriend's wedding and ends up in horrifyingly embarrassing fender-bender with handsome wedding guest, Nate Gallagher.
 Amelia and Nate strike up an online relationship, but always lingering in Amelia's mind is the fear that he'll realize she's not nearly as appealing in real life.
As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people, she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nate still be interested when he learns who she is?
This was a brilliant novella.  There was a lot packed into this little book and yet, it was just perfect. I loved hearing all of the details about the flower shop and Amelia's life as a florist.  The supporting characters were definitely a strength to the book.  There were people to love and dislike in a way that is only human and natural in real life.  This story felt like it could easily have happened.
I felt just as eager as Nate and Amelia felt to read each others email.  I was in agony when there was a lapse in communication.  Why did he/she write back yet?!  Written as only Katie Ganshert can write this beautiful love story is perfect.  Not because the characters are perfect, or the situation, but because of its imperfections and the way that it all works together for good.  I like the emailing back and forth.  It added a different dimension to the story and allowed the reader a new way to get to know the characters and see what was going on. 
I received this ebook free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Summer Road Trip and a Book

This summer I went on a mini-road trip from Portland, Oregon to Victoria, B.C.  That trip was about family.  We flew to Portland, OR for a family reunion and then we were driving to Victoria, B.C. to surprise my great-grandmother with her great-great grandson.  The passengers in the car were my husband, myself, our son, and my mother.  So you can see--the whole trip was all about family.

I read this YA book recently.

This book--even though it might not seem like it at first glance. This book is not only about a boy who loves a girl and is going to her.

It is about Becca's family's love and commitment to each other that drawn Riley in.

It is about Riley's dad who is desperate to get to Riley and make a connection that matters.

It is about Riley's journey to get to his father, who he pretends doesn't matter, but does.

There are many levels in this book and as I drove along Interstate 5 up through Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver I felt our family ties strengthen and bind us.  Just like in To Get To You there is something about a road-trip that can really create the atmosphere for family to bond.

Read my review for To Get To You here and then go read it for yourself!

Also, check out this awesome giveaway inspired by the book!
Displaying road trip giveaway - www.joannebischof.jpg

Chivalrous by Dina Sleiman

From the publisher:
Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit. 

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

This is the second in the Valiant Heart series by Diana Sleiman.  I enjoyed this book more than the first book.  And I enjoyed the first one! This YA book gives strong characters to both male ans females.  Both Allen and Gwendolyn are characters that readers can learn from and enjoy.  They are not perfect but inspire the readers to be true to themselves and God.

The secondary characters were also very powerful.  I was drawn to them and hope that they appear in a future book as they were just as important to me in the story as the main ones.  It was also fun to have characters from the first book show up in this one. That way you could know more about what has happened to them since the conclusion of the previous book.

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

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

From the publisher:
In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.
His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself. 
Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different. 
But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love. 
Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.

This book amazed me.  And shocked me.  It made me realize that I really had  no idea of what the Reformation was like and what everyone went through.  Jody Hedlund's research and historical accuracy will blow you away.  As I read this book what kept hitting me was that this was not just a novel, but real life.  The things in this book (for the most part) came from history itself.  And even if all the instances didn't happen exactly like that to one person, it probably happened to someone like that. 

Luther's character was written so well and it was eye opening to see his struggles and the immense amount of pressure that he was under during this time from peasants, princes, his friends, and himself.  Katharina's character allowed me to see that even when a person joined the Reformation they probably did so in stages. Not all at once.

This book deal with some very horrible times but it also showed what those during that time suffered to give us today.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

To Get to You by Joanne Bischof

To get to the girl he loves, 
Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the 
father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle. 

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it. 

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past. 

A story of new beginnings and second chances. 

Joanne Bischof is an author whose words create emotions.  One of the things that makes reading her books so amazing is that is it not just in the conversations that she gives you a story but in the thoughts and emotions that are going on behind the scenes.  You step into the characters minds and are a part of their story.  Maybe it was the road trip or thinking about Hawaii while I read this book, but it felt calm and steady through the book.  The tension and currents just right, like a perfect wind.  

This cleverly titled book is dual purposed in its meaning.  As you read through the story you will have to decide for yourself who it is most talking about.  There are multiple levels of relationships in this story and each one is woven seamlessly into one another.  Some books have too many characters or you don't feel attached to any of them, but not the case here.  Each character is important and you feel drawn to them and their own stories and how they all weave together.

I'll admit, I felt tears at the ending of this book.  For all the may or may nots that could happen.  There are phrases that stand out to me in this book and I know will stand out to you.  Truths that go beyond a novel and are for you and I right now.  

I highly recommend reading this book.

I received this ebook free in exchange for my honest review.

Displaying road trip giveaway - www.joannebischof.jpg

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

From the publisher: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new._________________________

This is a time period I haven’t read a lot about, after the American Revolutionary and all the tensions of Patriots and Torys and what happened to each.  Laura Frantz really brought out historical details that I had never heard of.  From the big picture of post-American Revolution, to small details like the drinks form Scotland, or a buck and what is was for and from.  I loved each detail in this story.  It enriched my knowledge and enjoyment of the story.

All the praise you have ever heard for this author is true.  You will be amazed at her writing and the way you are drawn into the characters and time period.  Your emotions are with each character and you desire to know what will happen.  The spiritual aspect of the book is gently woven in.  The romantic aspects are steady and rich as the characters themselves. 

I received this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

From the publisher:
Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.
Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone.
When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.
Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.
Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

I love picking up a book by Denise Hunter.  Her writing is always a hook.  It draws you in from the very beginning and doesn’t let you go even after the story has ended.  This is a new series and I was excited to read the first book.

The story was reminiscent of Safe Haven in a small sense, and even the author gives a nod in that direction through the story.  Micah and Eden will tug at your heart.  As a mother I really felt the emotions of Eden and her struggle to do anything to keep her son safe and well.  The writing really brought that out.

Beau and his two brothers are characters that you immediately want to know more about.  I am glad this is a series so we can further get into the stories of this family.  Beau’s strong and loyal character is a compliment for the story and what is needed. 

The story was paced out perfectly, giving hints and clues along the way, but only revealing it at the crucial points.  There are tense scenes in this book, and also very tender ones.  A perfect blend.

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Until My Name is Known by Sonya Contreras

From the publisher: The Exodus of the Jews from Egypt is a love story between God and His people. God woos His people to Himself as He prepares them to leave. Before leaving, God must fight Pharaoh for possession of His people. See how God changes all people: some for the better, others not. None stay the same. How will He change you? Can you trust a God Who destroyed a nation before your eyes? Would you want Him as your Friend? See God free His people from Egypt s bonds Before a watching world. Trace His Finger in the lives He touches. The Time: 2450 BC The Place: Old Kingdom of Egypt Pharaoh is god. His people worship him. Israel s God arrives. He challenges Pharaoh. His power touches all people. They must change. Some do not concede. They suffer. Others yield. They find freedom. Until My Name Is Known brings all to see the one true God. Read it to see Him. Today's historians and archaeologists puzzle over the fall of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, But the world at that time heard of God. The world knew that He is the Lord. His Name was proclaimed in all the earth. Book One of the series Tell of My Kingdom' s Glory


The story of the Exodus is told from a variety of view points in this novel.  In doing so Sonya Contreras allows the reader to see and understand different view points.  While we tend to think of just Moses and Pharaoh when we read this story, it involved all of the Hebrew, Egyptians, and other nations as they heard about the things going on.  I did feel that perhaps there were too many view points and it created a few too many characters.

Readers will enjoy Sonya Contreras research and attention to details.  You will be able to get a better view of ancient Egypt than before and enrich the way you understand that historical time.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Secrets She Kept by Cathy

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

From the publisher:

The secret a mother was forbidden to share . . . the consequences a daughter could not redeem—but will risk everything in her attempt.

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah unlocks secrets of her mother’s mysterious past, including the discovery of a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father, ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, demands a marriage for his daughter to help advance his career. But Lieselotte is in love—and her beloved Lukas secretly works against the Reich. How far will her father go to achieve his goal?

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who hides wartime secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past, and how their legacy will shape her future.


I sit here kind of stunned and in shock as I've just finished reading Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke.  This author knows how to keep your heart pounding from the first page to the very last and then some.  She deserves 5 stars for this work of genius.  A word of warning though, this book does not have a "happily ever after" ending.  Yet it was a book I would not have wanted to miss!  In the first four chapters I went from literally feeling disdain for Hannah's "distant" mother to feeling pity and mercy wrapped in love for her.  This story makes the statement about walking a mile in another's shoes come to life.  In a brisk, honest, sometimes brutal telling of WWII Germany the author takes us on a journey to uncover family secrets.  Along the way the reader is brought face to face with intense emotions dealing with judging, betrayal, forgiveness and God's role in all of this.  If you're up to a book that challenges you and may rock you to the core, go get this book now!

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

Thank You, Lord, for Everything by P.J. Lyons

From the publisher:
A new padded board book with cheerful and upbeat rhymes that teaches children to be thankful.
A comfortable and relaxing rhyme tells the story of God's great blessings in this padded cover board book. P.J. Lyons' engaging text and Tim Warnes' playful illustrations remind readers how much they have to be thankful for.
Love surrounds you, beauty, too. Notice how God blesses you! Clap your hands, shout and sing: Thank you, Lord, for everything.
Thank You, Lord, For Everything, is a sweet and gentle rhyme-perfect for bedtime, quiet time, and anytime in between.
This board board is darling.  The illustrations by Tim Warnes just make the book extra special.  The little bear cub goes through out his day and in each situation it can give thanks.  
This teaches children to be able to give thanks in different situations.  The rhyme pattern is pleasant and easy to read.  My one year old enjoyed the book and asked to read it again recently so I think that's a hit.  
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

From the publisher:
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.


Having only read one book by Sarah Sundin before (and it was in the middle of a series) I wanted to try reading one of her books from the beginning.  I am so glad that I did.  What a fantastic story!  There were many great elements about this so I will touch on a few of them.

This is a perfectly paced story.  Some stories drag.  Others rush.  This one was perfect.  It moved through time and just when it needed to pick up, it did.  The romance wasn't rushed.  It was real and deep.  Jim may be one of the best historical romance characters I've read because he was real.  He didn't know what to do all the time. His blunders almost cost him what he really wanted.  He wasn't driven or a super macho man.  He was human.  And I liked that.  Mary was a wonderful character to read as well.  I really am interested in many of the supporting characters and am anxious to see which ones will be developed in future stories.

Rich in historical detail but in no way bogs you down.  You are interested in the lives of Mary and Jim and Sarah Sundin weaves in historical information without making you feel like you are reading a history book.  The mystery of the sabotages and tension leading up to WWII  will leave you wondering what will happen next.

I highly recommend this book to others.

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