Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson, daughter of the lieutenant governor of Virginia, is Williamsburg's bride. Her planned future includes marriage to Miles Roth, master of Roth Hall, and a life as its mistress. Love is not necessary. However, Williamsburg turns perilous for Elizabeth as tensions rise daily between the British Loyalists and American Patriots. When tragedy strikes in her own home, Elisabeth finds herself on a new life path that involves intrigue, independence and the handsome Noble Rynallt, cousin to her fiance and a leader of the independence men. Torn between family and the future, Elisabeth must decide which side to stand with. Read more in The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz.

I'm not sure how many of Laura Frantz's books I've read, but The Lacemaker is my favorite. This stand-alone novel is permeated with history, courage, faith, and romance. Being set on the eve of the American Revolution, plenty of action keeps the story moving and the reader devouring its beautiful narrative. Liberty and Noble's relationship grows and matures throughout the book and it was a pleasure to observe. Laura Frantz's writing is amazingly beautiful and practically effortless to read. She makes writing a book look easy, though I'm sure it's not. I recommend The Lacemaker to fans of historical romances. If you've read and like Laura Frantz's other books, you'll probably like The Lacemaker as well.


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."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

For years, Ian Shaw and Sierra Rose have danced around the invisible, but very real obstacles, that prevent them from having a relationship. However, when both find themselves in crisis, they are pushed together. Ian's received a massive fine that has crippled his finances. Sierra may lose her job if PEAK Rescue is shut down due to damages the team's chopper has incurred. With no chopper, PEAK is no longer. Ian offers Sierra the use of his yacht to raise money from his very wealthy friends. However, a rogue wave sinks the ship, sending its passengers to fight for their lives. When Ian and Sierra are stranded on a island together, the obstacles between them shrink and they begin to honestly engage each other. Still secrets, lies, and danger threaten their tenuous relationship. Read more in Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren.

Troubled Waters stands as the fourth novel in Susan May Warren's Montana Rescue series. I think it could be read alone, but the entire series is amazing and I recommend reading them in order, beginning with the free prequel, If Ever I Would Leave You. The prequel is where Sierra and Ian's story starts and they feature prominently in Wild Montana Skies.

I read Troubled Waters in two long sittings. It was so, so good. It seems that Susan May Warren likes to commence a story by dropping the reader right into a tense situation. It's a pretty effective hook and the tension continues throughout the story both externally and internally for the characters. I stayed engaged, wanting more, turning pages late into the night. I enjoyed the development of Sierra and Ian individually as well as a couple. There were twists that I didn't see coming and secondary characters that added more to the story. Overall, Troubled Waters is a great read.

I recommend Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren to fans of contemporary Christian romance. The Montana Rescue series is permeated with themes of redemption and plenty of romance. They occupy precious space on my bookshelf and will be read again.



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."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews


Ishma, a name meaning desolation, proves sadly appropriate for a five-year-old, traumatized orphan. With only herself and her friend, Yaira, Ishma arrives in the prophet Isaiah's home so deeply wounded that she has lost her words. It is there she meets the young prince Hezekiah, whose own wounds have paralyzed his mind and body. Almost immediately, Prince Hezekiah and Ishma bond on a deep level. In each other, they find restoration and confidence. As they grow older, they challenge each other, play together, and fall in love. However, Ishma's status as an orphan makes her an unsuitable match for Hezekiah until Isaiah adopts her and renames her Hephzibah, meaning delight of the Lord. But the friendship is only the beginning of a lifelong relationship that will be challenged by war, disease, and infertility. As Zibah's future unfolds, she struggles between the prophetic meanings of her names: desolate and delight of the Lord. Will she be able to trust in the One who holds life, death, kings, nations, and her own heart? Read more in Isaiah's Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings by Mesu Andrews.

I started reading the Biblical book of Isaiah about the same time I started reading Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews. As far as I can tell, Isaiah's Daughter is well-researched and lines up with the Scripture. Both books contain times of great beauty and dark desolation. Throughout Isaiah's Daughter, the author addresses prophecy versus opinion. Characters grapple with discerning the line where prophetic truth ends and opinion begins. They struggled, they prayed, they questioned, even doubted. Just as we do in our lives today.

Likewise, I found a beautiful parallel for the lives we desire to live today in Hezekiah and Zibiah's relationship. The reader observes Hezekiah and Ishma/Zibah grow from wounded children into full-grown adults dealing with the issues of ruling a kingdom. Their relationship is based on solid friendship and respect. Therefore, when romantic love grows, it is infused with loyalty, devotion, and mutual admiration. Through the hard times they remain true to each other, and true to Yahweh.

Isaiah's Daughter is the fourth book I've read by Mesu Andrews and it is my favorite. I recommend this back to all fans Christian fiction. It is a beautiful, moving read that will not only entertain, but draw the reader closer to God.

Read an excerpt from Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews 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."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Marvelous Mud House by April Graney

The Marvelous Mud House: A Story of Finding Fullness and Joy, written by April Graney and illustrated by Alida Massari, tells the stories of two families. One family – the Smith family of America – overflows with material wealth, but is never satisfied. The other family – Mama George and her son of Kenya – lacks material wealth, but is rich in love, strength and life.When these two families meet, they are both changed. Mama George and her son teach the Smith family how to be content with less and the joy that comes from contentment. In turn, the Smith family blesses Mama George by giving sacrificially. Both families are changed for the better by their experiences. Read more in The Marvelous Mud House.

I recommend The Marvelous Mud House by April Graney for children ages 3-7. It's a little too long to hold the attention of my two year old, so I'm rating it for a slightly older child. A small reader's discussion guide is provided at the end of the story as well as a few Kenyan words a child could learn.

The narrative of this storybook conveys messages of personal contentment and giving to others. As a mom of two young children, raised in America, I am thankful for a resource that promotes contentment and giving. It's natural for children to want more; but, it's also good to teach them at a young age how to be content and full of joy, whether or not they have a new toy. Mama George's song was beautiful – a lovely way to remind oneself to value spiritual/eternal things over temporal pursuits.

Enjoy this short video of April Graney discussing her family's trip in Kenya that led to the creation of The Marvelous Mud House:




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."

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow

Adisa Johnson, a young African-American lawyer, never expected that conversing with a reporter would lead to losing her job. Luke Nelson, a white police officer, never planned to shoot an unarmed African-American youth. When their split-second decisions alter Adisa and Luke's lives, they find themselves uncomfortably situated together. Adisa, as a reluctant and loyalty-divided defense lawyer, and Luke, as a suspicious but desperate client. Their tenuous relationship serves as an example of their respective communities and the racial tensions that exist far after slavery's abolition. As circumstances escalate and Luke's hope of exoneration diminishes, the future seems dark. Everyone involved, white and black, must confront their own prejudices. Only then can light, hope, and life arise.

A Time to Stand is the first novel I've read by Robert Whitlow. The plot was engaging, but not captivating to where I felt I couldn't put it down. Adisa's relationships, spiritual growth and the preparing of a legal defense were the most interesting aspects of the story to me. As expected, the challenging issue of racial prejudice spans this entire novel. The author attempted to address multiple sides of the issue, but I'd be interested in hearing the thoughts of an African-American reader as to how authentic this book reads. While the main issue of the book is racial prejudice, there are other thought-provoking nuggets throughout the book including a most encouraging one: Our actions and prayers matter more than we'll ever know.

I recommend A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow to readers looking for a thought-provoking read with elements of suspense and drama.

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, October 21, 2017

Big and Little Coloring Devotional

Big and Little Coloring Devotional, written by Rachel C. Swanson and illustrated by Jacy Corral, is my first experience with a coloring book designed for sharing between parent and child. I love that the book marries an enjoyable childhood activity with a calming adult activity. Not only does it set the stage for some quality time, but it inserts Scriptures and spiritual truths that mom and child can discuss while they color.

My five year old daughter and I sat down this afternoon to test out the new coloring book. The pages are set so that mom and child can sit opposite each other and the child can work on one page while mom does the other. Well, we decided we wanted to share a page and work together. After about thirty minutes of us both coloring, we nearly completed the page. She said the background should be colored in, but she was tired of coloring. (And truthfully, thirty minutes was plenty for me too.) I was beyond pleased with the experience. We talked, we colored, we made up stories, we spent time together. There were smiles, thoughts, and a bright coloring page to remind us of it all.



Of course, I can not leave out my two year old daughter who also likes to color and it occurred to me that this would be a great morning activity since she gets usually gets up at least an hour earlier than her older sister. Entertaining my young child while starting the day with a relaxing activity.... I'm looking forward to trying that out tomorrow morning....

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."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

Champion snowboarder Gage Watson had lucrative sponsorships, his dream career, and a budding romance until the death of a fan. These days, he makes his life in Montana's rugged mountains as a ski patrol and emergency rescuer. In the past three years, he's not been able to forgive himself or make peace with his past. Then Ella Blair, his former love interest who betrayed him, arrives and insists on helping rescue her brother. As they work together, Gage is forced to acknowledge his past and finds hope for a future with Ella. But a secret still lies between them. Will buried secrets keep Gage and Ella apart or could the truth set them both free? Read more in A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren.

A Matter of Trust is the third full-length novel in Susan May Warren's Montana Rescue Series. It is not necessary to read the prior two novels, but they are excellent reads and I do recommend them.

As usual, Susan May Warren's writing style was captivating. Within the first chapter, Warren introduces Gage and Ella separately, as they are in the present, but with hints of their rocky past that engage the reader's curiosity. The story ushered me into it at page one and held my interest throughout. The sizzling tension, unwarranted forgiveness, secret betrayal, heady romance, and self-sacrifice created quite a story. I loved it and can easily recommend it to fans of contemporary Christian romance. My only warning is that, if you are, like me, a native Floridian with little knowledge of snowboarding, you might have to google some snowboarding terms. :)


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."