Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar


As a young woman who grew up in the shadow of her father, a master of making purple dye, Lydia is competent in dye making. Yet her fear holds her back from embracing the complete process without her father's help. After her father is injured, Lydia must face her fear and fulfill customer orders alone. Once recovered, Lydia's father entrustes her with his precious formula secrets. Far too soon, Lydia finds herself on her own with few assets other than dye making knowledge. Through past connections and ambition, Lydia restarts with a dye business of her own in Phillippi. Yet fear follows Lydia to her new home, until one man brings an astounding message of freedom. Read more in Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar.

Bread of Angels is the latest stand-alone fiction novel by Tessa Afshar. I enjoyed the small tie-in to her previous novel, Land of Silence, but reading Elianna's story is not necessary to enjoy Lydia's. I felt that Afshar held closely to the narrative regarding Lydia in the New Testament book of Acts though the back story of where Lydia came from and why she eagerly embraced Christianity is fictional.


I enjoyed Lydia's thorough character development and commend the author for bringing Lydia to face her fear rather than concocting an escape. As usual, Tessa Afshar's writing style was beautiful and the plot flowed well. I especially enjoyed the post-conversion part of the book when it seemed the author really focused in on themes regarding fear and the power of the work that Jesus accomplished for all believers. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around some of the excellent messages in this book. I recommend Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar to fans of Biblical fiction. 

Read an excerpt from Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar on the publisher's website and see the video below to watch the author talk about who Lydia was.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

True to You by Becky Wade

Nora Bradford is proud of her success as a historical village owner, enjoys her work at the library museum, and is seriously in-love with her favorite tv show. If those things don't occupy her time sufficiently, she has books, Facebook, and her smart phone to help her avoid certain emotions and circumstances. Then John Lawson enters her life, needing help to find his birth mother. Nora's focus shifts to John's search and ultimately to the man, himself. As the pair traces John's ancestry, they grow closer until an unexpected and dark truth from the past clouds their relationship. Will they rise above the past and find light after darkness? Read more in True to You by Becky Wade.

True to You is the first full-length novel in Becky Wade's Bradford Sisters Romance Series. The prequel, Then Came You, complements the story line, but is not essential to True to You. I thoroughly enjoyed Nora's character development. In the beginning, I didn't really like her and stuck with the story because the ancestry search was interesting. However, by the middle of the book, I was cheering for her and staying up much too late so I could finish “just one more chapter.” And then came the unveiling of past secrets. Wow. I absolutely adore how the author carried both John and Nora through that. I can't say more without giving a spoiler, but it was excellent.

I would rate True to You as a PG-13 book. There's some innuendo by one of Nora's co-workers that really wasn't necessary and I wouldn't want my young child absorbing. For older teens and adults, the story is entertaining and the message of redemption is lovely.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, March 20, 2017

Your Magnificent Chooser by John Ortberg

Your Magnificent Chooser, written by John Ortberg and illustrated by Robert Dunn, teaches children the power of a person's will using whimsical rhymes and delightful illustrations. Starting with the premise that your will – aka your “chooser” – is a God-given gift, the narrative continues by emphasizing the importance of this gift and presenting some ideas of how this gift is used. It then addresses mistakes and new starts as well as boundaries to be respected. Appropriately, the book ends with an encouraging “find something great / For your Chooser to do.”

I have an almost-five year old who, since starting VPK last August, has been working to learn some challenging social concepts. I requested this book, hoping to empower her to see that she can make her own decisions instead of imitating others. To that end, this book fit the bill. I liked how it addressed situations with friends who might not want to do the same thing. I do wish it had addressed more how to respond to a parent who asks you to do something (like cleaning your room) when you'd rather play. The issue was brought up in the book, but it wasn't immediately resolved as the next page moved into the concept of clashing wills with a friend – and that was resolved by choosing to be friendly again.

I recommend this book to Christian parents (as it does mention God) who want to instill in their children a sense of self-responsiblity and empower them to make their own firm choices.

Visit the publisher's website for Your Magnificent Chooser to find related resources!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When God Made You

The message of When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow, is summed up on the first page: “You, you, when God made YOU, God made you all shiny and new. An incredible you, a you all your own, a you unlike anyone else ever known.” From there, the narrative expands on the concept, branching out into several ideas:

1. God knows each child even before birth.
2. God loves each child as an individual.
3. God places talents and passions within each child.
4. A child's self-expression through his or her natural gifts brings joy to the Creator.

As a mother, I appreciate the messages in this book because I know when my four year old goes off to vpk, she faces a tough world. The culture will tell her that she's not pretty enough, that her talents aren't good enough, etc. This book stands against those messages. The little girl in the story is talented artistically, but it's framed in such a way that her talents are used to bring joy to God, not to be put into a competition where she may or may not be good enough.

I recommend When God Made You for children ages 2 to 6. It was perfect for my four year old as my daughter has common ground with the girl in the book – both have a younger sibling, both love to paint and create.

The illustrations are vibrant and complement the story. It was good to see a Christian children's book that depicts an African-American girl. It might just be my experience, but it seems like the majority of Christian children's books use Caucasians. I like to teach my girls that diversity is normal and good and this book is a nice tool to use for that purpose.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

Deputy Sam Brooks is responsible, structured and committed, if not a bit jaded. He surrounds himself with those like him and is avoidant of those who don't share his love of a predictable life – especially, his brother. His girlfriend, Sierra Rose, is the perfect girl for him as she's practical, organized, and can function under pressure. He sees her younger, impulsive sister, Willow, only as a friend until a church youth group outing to Glacier National Park goes wrong. As Sam and Willow brave the elements with a group of teenagers, Willow's admiration of Sam grows and Sam's interest in Willow heightens. Will Sam give up his safe relationship with Sierra for an unpredictable life with Willow? Read more in Rescue Me by Susan May Warren.

Rescue Me is the second novel in Susan May Warren's Montana Rescue series. It could function as a stand-alone novel, but I wouldn't recommend reading it as such. Many of the characters from If Ever I Would Leave You (Montana Rescue prequel) and Wild Montana Skies (Montana Rescue #1) return. While sufficient background information is supplied, knowing the characters' histories adds depth, plus the lingering mystery of Esme Shaw continues in the background.

Like many of Warren's books, Rescue Me, has one focal love story (Willow and Sam), while concurrently spinning another love story to be followed up on in a later publication. Normally, I'm not a big fan of that technique, but it totally works in Warren's novels.

Rescue Me commences by dropping the reader straight into the mind of Deputy Sam Brooks facing a dangerous rescue mission. It gripped my attention and by the end of chapter two, I wanted to stay up late to devour the rest of the story. (Alas, I made the responsible choice and went to sleep instead of staying up until morning...) The plot never dragged. The characters developed as their relationships became more complicated. Sparks of romance combined with the ever-present danger created suspense. In short, Susan May Warren knows how her craft and is quickly rising up my list of favorite authors.

Readers who enjoyed Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren will want to follow it up with Rescue Me. I recommend them both as gripping, romantic tales threaded with the grace and love of Christ.

Read an excerpt of Rescue Me by Susan May Warren on the publisher's website.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz

Temperance Tucker is fleet of foot, a fine shot with a rifle, and knows the eighteenth-century Kentucke territory. Yet, a painful past leaves her emotionally ill-equipped for her present life. She and her family operate the Moonbow Inn, a haven for frontier travelers searching for food and temporary shelter. When Sion Morgan enters, looking for a guide, Tempe has no intention of joining his crew. However, circumstances shortly land Tempe in that exact position and her faith is tested as she hazards frontier dangers, revisits families connected to her past, and grows very fond of Sion. Will Tempe and Sion's budding relationship thrive in the midst of the past pain and the harsh frontier of Kentucke? Find out in A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz.

It was a pleasure to read Tempe and Sion's story in A Moonbow Night. This stand alone novel features authentic characters that lingered in my mind for days after I'd finished reading. The characters' struggles made them relatable and their tenacity made them admirable. Frantz used these deeply developed characters and their life journeys to undergird the adventure and romance. A steady plot and beautiful narrative held my attention from the beginning to the end. Frantz's admiration of the early explorers, such as Daniel Boone, is evident, though she also addressed the Native Americans' side of the matter through the character of Raven.

I recommend A Moonbow Night to readers who enjoy historical tales of adventure, faith and romance. I've read most of Frantz's novels and this is one of my top three favorites.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT

The Beyond Suffering Bible, published by Tyndale in the New Living Translation, aims to encourage readers that in the midst of extensive, ongoing struggle, God offers an infinite, glorious hope.

Included along with the Biblical text are:
  • Devotionals written by Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who has been paralyzed since 1967.
  • Profiles of others who have experienced disabilities or filled a role as a caregiver.
  • Notes and articles by professionals who help those with disabilities.
  • Study notes interspersed throughout the text that accentuate what the Bible says about suffering.
  • Introductions to each book of the Bible that give background information as well as synopsis.
  • Topical reading plans on suffering, disability, and healing.
  • Reference resources: A NLT Dictionary/Concordance, maps, and a dedicated space for notes.
My thoughts:

A good blend of experiences from Joni, other people, and doctors provided authenticity and a well-rounded view of dealing with prolonged suffering. Ongoing suffering is not something the Christian world addresses frequently (at least in my experience) and there is a crucial, wonderful message that the authors really tried to bring out – God's heart for the afflicted. His tender mercies to the disabled. His protective hand in each life.

The book introductions were perfect for both those new to faith and those who are not. I found them simple to understand as they highlighted basic information and deeper themes of each book, some of which I'd not previously known or noticed.

I requested to review this book with the intention of giving it to a family member who is serving as caregiver to her husband. My expectations were met and exceeded. I recommend the Beyond Suffering Bible: Where Struggles Seem Endless, Gods Hope is Infinite to anyone struggling with disability or acting as caregiver on a regular basis to another person.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."