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."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

As the oldest of the Neumann sisters, Elise carries the heavy responsibility of protecting and providing for her siblings as well as the two small children that live with them. Though she is a skilled seamstress, work is hard to find and her pitiful pay fails to provide for basic needs. Convinced that she can earn better wages in the west and send them back to her sisters, Elise joins the New York Children's Aid Society. However, she finds immediately that the pay and work is far worse than promised. Her history with the town's developer, Thornton Quincy, temporarily preserves her. However, Thornton contends with his own issues – issues that don't include better working conditions and the sparking attraction between him and Elise. With such different life stations, is it possible that Elise and Thornton were brought together for a purpose greater than their own welfare? Read more in With You Always by Jody Hedlund.

With You Always is the first full-length novel in Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series. I highly recommend reading the (currently free) prequel novella, An Awakened Heart. With You Always picks up one day after An Awakened Heart ends and it flows together as one complete story.

Simply put, I thought With You Always was excellent. Equal parts romance and fiction, I found the plot unique and captivating. The immigrant plight was thoughtfully presented and the story made me sadder than I expected. The story pulled at my heartstrings, but used the conflict to present hope in God. I recommend With You Always to fans of inspiration historical romance and I'm eager for the next novel in the series.

Read an excerpt from With You Always by Jody Hedlund 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."

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."