Tag Archives: Book Reviews

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

 

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About the book:

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

My Review:

I knew that the theme of this story was the circus, which intrigued me. Other than that, I had no idea what to expect.
I was in a mood where I needed something to immediately grab my attention as I sat in a very hot car waiting for over an hour, and this book did the trick. I was transported into another place beyond the car, to experience life with Charlie and Ella.
This book, I would not classify as a romance, but more a story with love being a theme of the book. The main themes of the book, I would say, would be mercy, sacrifice and healing. These characters do not fit into any box you might have imagined, but in the end, you will fall in love with all of them, primary and secondary.
This is a book you will not want to miss if you love a book outside the ordinary.

You can find it for purchase in print or eBook form. The Lady and the Lionhearted  It is only $4.99 on Kindle, and $14.99 in paperback.

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The Thorn Keeper by Pepper Basham

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description:
With her newfound faith, Catherine Dougall hopes to take the remnants of her threadbare life and make something beautiful, even if society shuns every choice she makes.

Dr. David Ross must save his war hospital from ruin, but when his notorious aunt makes an offer he can’t refuse, he must choose between his surprising affection for a reformed flirt or his dreams.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who never forgets his children and fashions beauty out of the most broken things.

My Review:

Wow. I have been super busy without a lot of time for reading, but when I started this book, I could not put it down. It is the second book in the “Penned in Time” series and being set during WW1, has many unique qualities. It was amazing!

The storyline is unique by itself, but the historical detail of clothing design, hospitals, and the deep spiritual message sets this book apart from others.

It does deal with some harder topics like unwed mothers, suicide, and healing from abuse, so for that reason this would be a book for mature high schoolers or adults.It is all done from a Christian perspective so nothing is overly graphic, but just more mature content.

There is also a beautiful romantic thread throughout the book, of perseverance and healing. I will not give away the story, but this was a truly beautiful love story of sacrifice and love that overcomes obstacles.

I wanted to keep reading, but at the same time, did not want it to end.

This book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher to me. The opinions contained herein are my own.

This book is available for purchase from Amazon and other booksellers.

Go here to order… “The Thorn Keeper”

Make sure you read the first one though before this one. Book one is only $1.99 on Kindle at the moment. “The Thornbearer”

 

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The Hearts we mend by Kathryn Springer

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description:
For young widow Evie Bennett, moving forward will mean deciding what to leave behind . . . and what to keep.

Widowed at the age of twenty-five when her firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, Evie Bennett has spent the last thirteen years raising their son, Cody, in the close-knit community of Banister Falls. As the women’s ministry director of her church, Evie encourages women to boldly pursue God’s plan for their future . . . while she is content with her memories of the past. But Evie’s well-ordered life begins to change when she meets Jack Vale.

As Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe and predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems in the community . . . but will Evie open her heart to love again?

Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

My Review:

When I began this book, I was under the impression it was a novella, so was pleasantly surprised by the beautifully developed story that took place instead. That is not to say there are not great novellas, but often they lack depth.

Just a few of the topics that are touched on in this book might begin with drug addiction, theft, child abandonment, and healing from past hurts. I have seen many Christian novels that sort of gloss over these subjects without showing the pain that comes from them, because it is not something you generally think to see in a Christian book.

For myself though, I find that there is no better place to discuss these topics than a Christian novel. You can see how the love of God is lived out in Jack and Evie’s lives everyday, as they struggle with hardships that you will find realistic and eye opening.

The book is done very tastefully. I truly savored and enjoyed it all the way through!

This book was provided by Netgalley and the publisher. The opinions contained herein are my own.

You can pre-order a copy here… The Hearts We Mend..

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Prayers that Changed History by Tricia Goyer

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description

Twenty-five stories of historical figures who prayed to God and as a result, history was changed.

One prayer can change everything.

Martin Luther. Sojourner Truth. Helen Keller. St. Patrick. We read their stories, and of other people like them, in history books, and hear about the amazing things they did to change the world. But one part of the story is often left out: Each one of them wouldn’t have accomplished what they did without prayer.

In this book from bestselling author Tricia Goyer, the stories of twenty-five notable people are presented along with the major prayer that changed their lives and changed history. Following each historical example is a biblical story that ties to that person’s life and actions, as well as ways you can use the power of prayer in your life as well. Because God isn’t done changing the world yet, and he would love to use you to make history.

My Review:

As I read through this lovely little book over the past while, I was impressed at how each story, it brought it back to prayer. Each person depicted in this book may not have been the world’s greatest person. Some of them may have truly done other things that we do not extoll, but their prayers, we can always praise.

Each story has daily life applications that can be used in your homeschool, daily devotions or just family time of discussion. You will read about the person, a biblical person, and life applications and questions.

I found myself wishing this book was included and scheduled in many of the yearly cycles of My Father’s World as it will go perfectly with it. There is much to learn in this little book!

 

 

To Purchase a copy, you can find it available here!
Prayers that Changed History

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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Gift Giving Guide for Readers

Do you have a reader in your life? Or are you the reader and looking for things to buy for yourself?

Here are a few recommended gift ideas for those special people you know and love-

My Top book Picks for gifts:

These are just a few that would be on my list…

(Click on the book title for link)

Kept by Sally Bradley – This book title reminds me of a modern day Redeeming Love. Ms. Bradley carries us through a grittier story of pain and redemption in a beautiful way.

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate– Investigating an old slush pile? What could be more exciting as this story weaves through past and present!

Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall- This whole series is amazing! Just recently available in paperback, this book series is written in first person in such a skilled way that you will forget that it is. I highly recommend.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz- Set after the Revolutionary War, this book is a sweet story, but also filled with hardships that you would not expect. I loved it!

The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff– This is not a Christian read, but a HEA story that warms the hearts of historical fiction fans.

I could go on and on… but my wish list is a mile long!

Here are a few from my wish list that I have not read:

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The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen– Her other books have been incredible.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman– I own every one of her books!

Until the Dawn- Elizabeth Camden– I have rarely ever been disappointed with one of her books.

The Five times I met myself by James Rubart – His books are very different than what I usually read, but this one fascinates me.

The Golden Braid– By Melanie Dickerson- It comes in hardcover and is beautiful. I love the cover art and her books are not ones to be missed.

 

Items for Readers- 

From electronic readers to jewelry, there is something here for the reader in your life.

Kindle– Even a diehard hard copy fan like me, has really enjoyed owning a kindle. I love it for traveling! It has made my suitcase a lot lighter, that is for sure. The Kindle Fire’s are cheaper right now, but this one is better for just reading.

Clip-On Book light– This works wonderful for reading in bed or camping with your kindle or book. It is easier to use with a kindle, but works fine with a book too. In a pinch, it works as a flashlight as well.

Mugs-  Readers love to drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate often while reading, or at least I do. Some of these are really cute.

“Kindly Go Away, I am reading” 

“My Courage Always Rises with Every Attempt to Intimidate Me”

Jane Austen Literary Mug 

First Lines of Literature Mug 

Novel Tea– Bags of tea with literature quotes

Pendant Necklace– “So Many Books, so little time”

Alice in Wonderland necklace 

Book Journal- This is great to keep track of your books in. Especially for the readers that don’t use Goodreads.

 

Then we can’t forget about the young adults in your life that love books and audio books. These are a few that have been popular around here:

Audio and Print Books:

Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tale retakes...- Do you have a young woman that loves fairy tales? These are available in both print and audio now. They are totally worth it! They will not just appeal to young adults, but also to adult readers.

Michael Vey series- By Richard Paul Evans– If you want your fantasy loving young people to get hooked on a series, start this one. Mine hardly could do anything else once they got through the first one. This is not Christian fiction, but fairly clean, although there is magical powers etc. involved, if you avoid that.

Wayne Thomas Batson’s book series – He has several. Many of them are available on audio, although we are so sad that his latest ones are not.

A Horse for Kate by Miralee Ferrell– This one is not available on audio, but is an easy read. There is a whole series for your horse loving girls and boys.

Chuck Black Series– He has a bunch of different options for both younger and older age groups.

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson– This is another that we wish were on audio. Her books are very popular with young people and is Christian fiction.

I hope this helps with finding books for some of the readers in your life. If you ever are looking for book lists for one reason or another, remember to contact me and I would happy to make one up for you!

 

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Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila

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About the book:

“Start where you are. Feed yourself. Do your best, and then let go. Be helpful. Slow down. Don’t be afraid of food.”

Alana Chernila has these phrases taped to her fridge, and they are guiding principles helping her to stay present in her kitchen. They also provide the framework for her second book. In The Homemade Kitchen she exalts the beautiful imperfections of food made at home and extends the lessons of cooking through both the quotidian and extraordinary moments of the day. Alana sees cooking as an opportunity to live consciously, not just as a means to an end.

Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.

My Review:

You know when a cookbook is like a beautiful story? This cookbook is one of those. You feel inspired to make real food when reading this book. It is not limited to the normal “real” or “whole” foods. There are easy sounding recipes for cheeses, goldfish crackers, animal crackers, desserts among the many main dishes, and breads. It is an amazing experience  for the palate and the eyes to read through this book. As I was reading, I kept thinking, “I want to buy one for this person, no, this person, oh, maybe that person as well.” There are so many people that will enjoy this book. It has amazing pictures throughout, stories of how she developed the recipes, as well as family stories. I loved this book!

This book was provided for me for review. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description:
For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ‘49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate.

When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.

My Review:

One of the trends that I have noticed in some fiction is to have characters that are married or mature as the main characters. I am loving this! I am not sure if that is my age showing, but it is wonderful to have characters that we can relate to. Ms. Hauck weaves a tale of the past mingled with the future. When the past and the future meet, the lessons they all learn are ones that will touch you in your walk with the Lord.

It is easy to say “It is just a fiction story.” With this story, you will be called upon to dig deeper. You will be asking questions about your marriage, relationships and devotion to the Lord. “Do I hear the heartbeat of God?”  and “Does He hear when I cry?”

The Wedding Chapel is a wonderful story, wrought with secrets and imperfect characters, but pure by the redemption of the One who saves us.

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The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description:
Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

My Review:

This is a highly unusual book and story. Our heroine is very young when the story begins and while this book is fiction, a tale is told that rivals non-fiction stories of survivors that I have read from this time period. It is not graphic, but detailed without as much of the horror. You see the story though the eyes of a child in the beginning. In the middle, a young woman and in the end, a woman. While there is a romantic story line that completes this book, that is not the focus of the story. This is a wonderful book, about the means of survival that many refugees, Holocaust survivors, orphans and others experienced during WW2 and even today.

I enjoyed the unique voice the author gave to Gretl as well as to Jakob. It was highly unusual and deep writing. If you enjoy a book that will make you think and dig into history, pick this one up!

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Another Way Home by Deborah Raney

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Book Description:

Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.

Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.

My Review:

Infertility is a tough issue that faces many more families than we realize. While it has been touched on in Christian fiction, I have enjoyed these novels that address the hard, nitty gritty emotional issues that these families face. I felt like this book really addressed a topic that often Christians tend to minimize. The emotional pain that adoption can hold on all fronts, for all those involved. Ms. Raney, once again, does an amazing job of endearing you to this family. I will miss this series as I have enjoyed every one of them. I hope, even though Abingdon might not be printing fiction anymore, that another publisher will snatch Ms. Raney up quickly. We need more books like this one!

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Bathsheba by Angela Hunt

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

After sending his army to besiege another king’s capital, King David forces himself on Bathsheba, a loyal soldier’s wife. When her resulting pregnancy forces the king to murder her husband and add her to his harem, Bathsheba struggles to protect her son while dealing with the effects of a dark prophecy and deadly curse on the king’s household.

Combining historical facts with detailed fiction, Angela Hunt paints a realistic portrait of the beautiful woman who struggled to survive the dire results of divine judgment on a king with a divided heart.

My Review:

Many people like to avoid biblical fiction because they don’t want to add to the bible. For myself, I read a biblical fiction book like Angela Hunt’s and it drives me to the bible. I especially loved all the footnotes in the end, references, and notes on the research behind this book.

Bathsheba was a beautiful woman. Her beauty to her, seemed as if a curse. This story is told in first person from two points of view, Bathsheba and Nathan, the prophet. It fully will make you dig into the bible and see, perhaps for the first time, how this lovely woman has been maligned and harshly judged throughout history. You will see that, perhaps for the first time, God’s heart in this sad state of affairs.

I loved the quote that was found near the end… David says he loved Bathsheba the most because she forgave the most.

As we see in our lives today, when men in roles of leadership sin, it affects not just him and his family, it affects the others in the church around him. David repented for his sin, but it still followed him the rest of his days. He had to live with the consequences even though he repented sincerely. I feel like we often want to say “He repented, it means what he did was not that bad. Let’s push it under the chair now.” We forget about the maligned, the hurting, in our effort to protect the reputation of the church. In this, we have even taken the story of Bathsheba and done victim blaming, because we don’t want to think the worst of David.

This book was written very well, with excellent research and is one that will stick with me for quite some time.

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