Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review of The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller

This is the first time I've read Judith Miller and it was a delightful read. During my research for this book and blog I discovered that Ms. Miller loves history and traveling. That definitely rings true as this story is rich in detailed history and information. It was fun to read about the brick making process.

The Brickmaker's Bride is book 1 in a new series by Judith Miller titled Refined by Love. An excerpt is available from the publisher.

Cover ArtFirst things first - I love book covers. and this one was so intriguing to me. I found myself referring back to it several times as I read. The beautiful young woman on the front has a lifetime of stories written in her eyes and was a perfect match for the Heroine Laura Woodfield.

The story takes place beginning in 1868 as America is rebuilding after the war. Down in the Tygart Valley of West Virginia one family in particular is trying to recover after losing the patriarch of their family. Laura and her mother decide to sell the beloved business, a brick yard. Laura holds it incredibly dear to her heart as she spent many hours there as a child alongside her father. It is important to her that the yard be sold to the "right" people. However at the point the story begins there haven't been many buyers or offers at all. Except one ... Ewan McKay and his uncle Hugh Crothers, Irish immigrants.

The hero of the story, Ewan is an interesting character. He is grounded in his faith, loyal to his family and determined to work hard with honesty and integrity. A wonderfully created contradiction to his abrupt, rude and addicted Uncle; who happens to hold the decision making reins and the purse strings in their fickle partnership. Once the sale of the brickyard is agreed upon Ewan must immediately balance his self-centered relatives with the kind and generous Woodfield family. This tension makes for excellent story-telling. Miller creates many entertaining scenes both funny and bittersweet to showcase all that Ewan is juggling.

His noble motivation that moves him forward despite some drastic and crazy odds is the desire to bring his three younger sisters across the ocean to America to live with him. He is their only immediate family.

Laura agrees to help Ewan establish business contacts, set up records and workers all in the hopes to see her father's life work succeed beyond him. Ewan gratefully accepts but soon finds himself drawn to her in a manner other than business. The love story between these two characters is slow and steady - like burning a brick for a lifetime of sturdy strength. The romance is sweet and without blemish.

I want to address the plot point of Laura being courted by another gentleman, Winston Hawkins, but I feel unable to say my peace without adding spoilers. So, I will say this ... by the end of the book I can only congratulate Judith Miller for writing a great love story. At first I didn't agree with the two men - polar opposites with one completely and notably unworthy of the heroine. It seemed no competition. Yet the author added the twist of a secret that binds our heroine to follow a path she doesn't want to in regards to a marriage partner. This is the element of the story where the faith aspect felt the most real. By the end of the story we see how often we view our options and our opportunities through the lens of our weaknesses. Yet our loving Lord and Saviour sees our future days unencumbered by anything.

The side plot of Ewan's aunt, driven only by climbing the social ladder at the expense of every person around her is at times entertaining and also poignant. The damage that can be done to our relationships when our motives are not of God is astounding. Miller shines a light on the effects of materialism and greed through the lens of the aunt and uncle.

This is a solid story with enjoyable characters, deep and abiding faith woven through and a wonderfully gripping historical base. I definitely would recommend this to others.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to receive this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review. This thoughts are my own and I am not required to review it positively.

Opps! I forgot the back cover blurb. Sorry ;)

In the clay-rich hills of the newly founded state of West Virginia, two families tentatively come together to rebuild a war-torn brickmaking business.

Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it's Ewan's job to get the company up and running again.

Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he'll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work is put in jeopardy. As his hopes for the future crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. Can she help him save the brickworks, and will Ewan finally get a shot at winning her heart.

By the way, if this topic intrigues may I recommend the family, dove approved movie The Last Brickmaker in America.  Check out the trailer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book review of A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears

Cover ArtAn historical romance with a western flair and a new up and coming author - what's not to like? That's how I felt when the book A Bride in Store arrived in my mail box. Only that feeling didn't survive to the last page for me. This was not a story I enjoyed. After reading many other reviews on line I see that I am in the minority though ... so please check around before making your own decision. An excerpt from the book is available on line by the publishers.

Melissa Jagears' second book, following her debut A Bride for Keeps continues on in the little western town of Salt Flatts, Kansas in 1881 with a new mail order bride arriving a tad too soon. Here is the Publisher's blurb:
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.
Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.
The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both. 
Let's start with characters. This isn't a typical western in my mind. If you're looking for a cowboy or two this isn't the book for you. However our main male character of the story, Will Stanton does a very good job of playing the adorably sweet,and superb gentleman hero. He felt well-rounded and easy to like. The only thing he needed was a little more of a backbone.

Our female counterpart, Eliza Cantrell was not as endearing. She felt too spoiled, too selfish and too whiny to me. I understood as the book progressed that these were characteristics that she needed to work on and she did. However, I couldn't find that one character strength that drew me to like her. She did however, have the backbone our hero lacked.

The other characters in the story were well done. The author does a good job of not writing to the stereotypical quirks and traits. Her ensemble of characters were fun and interesting.

I did not read book one in this series, A Bride for Keeps, and I did not feel it affected my understanding of the characters. However there was one character, Jonesey, that I could not figure out why he was there - so maybe that was a carry-over from story one. Other than that I feel this book can be a stand alone.

The story premise was interesting and drew my attention from the back cover. However I found the story moved very slowly at times with not enough at stake for me. The tension needed to drive this story forward was weak and sometimes implausible.  I would have liked to see the characters do more and think less. There was too much "I think I should-- no I can't" inner dialogue going on. Both the main characters could have overcome most of the obstacles by having a little chat by the half way mark of the book.

Overall, I struggled to finish the book. If I didn't have to write this review I would've shelved the book. I liked the idea and the characters were fine, but the story had no draw and no excitement for me. I wouldn't recommend this book to a friend but I will give this author another read when she publishes again. As her own characters would attest ... everyone deserves another chance.

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for the opportunity to receive this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by Holley Gerth

It is a privilege to review another book by Holley Gerth. I truly love her easy-going, heart-inspiring way of talking to women. So if you are familiar with Holley and her other books (You Are Already Amazing, You Were Made for a God-sized Dream, and You're Going to be Okay), you will not be disappointed with this one.

However, if you are new to this author, allow me to share a little of what this book can offer you. First, the Publisher's blurb:

Cover ArtWe all have days that make us want to pull the covers back over our heads and eat a dozen cupcakes.

Thankfully, Jesus said we don't "live on bread alone"--that includes cupcakes--"but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). What we really need is truth.

If you're tired, discouraged, or feel a little empty inside, my prayer is that by the end of our time together, you'll be refreshed and nourished in a way that will sustain you through whatever the future may hold.
Remember, you're not alone, my friend.

This book is cute. It is hardcover with bright and fun colours. The book is small, about the size of a photograph (4x6) but jam-packed with wisdom, hope and insightful truths taken from the Psalms. It makes an excellent gift!

Each of the 52 devotions are about three pages long with room to write at the end of each section. She encourages the reader to ask what their heart is saying to God and what they're hearing from God. Also, each entry is titled such as "God will give you courage, not condemnation." Or another title is "God will be with you through the whole process". This allows the reader to pick and choose which entries to read at any given time. Each one is numbered but not dated - lots of freedom here.

Holley uses stories and anecdotes to relate to the issue or topic being discussed, Then she breaks down the spiritual elements using scripture and biblical truths about God's character. Finally she caps it all off with a short prayer of the heart.

Readers will love the way Holley brings hope so effortlessly into the aches and pains we face just by living day-to-day. Pick up her latest encouragement for you and let your soul rest in the unfailing love, peace, strength and joy of our Lord and Savior.

Check out an excerpt of the book, including the Contents page and the first devotional. And don't forget ... it makes a wonderfully cute gift!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Christmas giving at its best!

We are too privileged. Too blessed.  And beyond any meaning of the word lucky.


Because we were born here and not there.

I, like many of you have no idea what it would be like to be born in a third world. We can't do any more than re-visualize the photos we've seen of what it would be like to raise our children in slums, poverty and illness.

We are too privileged.

In the midst our affluence we give here or give there; we sponsor children and we pray for them; we send over shoe boxes and useful clothing items, but are we really doing enough? If you were a mother living in poverty forced to giver her children up solely so they could eat, would you think we were doing enough?

I don't know.  But I do know this ... I am convicted that I am not doing enough.

The-Lulu-Tree-125x125Please, please go over to Emily T Weirenga's website and post about a new foundation she's starting because she felt the tug of God to do more.  It is called The Lulu Tree.
And here's my challenge to you, one that I have made myself ... in my blessed affluence, if I should ever offer a gift to someone - a family member, friend or colleague - may it be a gift that gives to the world.  Go to Emily's foundation or others like it and promise yourself that every time you give out of your extra abundance (cuz that what present-buying, coffee-purchasing, movie-watching and shoe-shopping is) that a life can be changed.

And if you haven't had a chance to pick up Emily's book Atlas Girl - go now! Check out my review or visit her website to find out more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another amazing book and offer from author Alana Terry

Special Discount ~ Limited Time Only
Special Time-Sensitive Giveaway! The first 25 readers who enter the giveaway below will receive a free audiobook from award-winning author Alana Terry. She's also giving away a $100 amazon card, a hundred free audio downloads, and a free ebook to anyone who signs up! 

About Slave Again: After escaping a North Korean prison camp, Mee-Kyong is hustled over the border and sold into the Chinese underworld. She vows to survive, but sheer determination and willpower won’t save her this time. Is she fated to remain a slave forever?

Slave Again is a Christian suspense novel from award-winning author Alana Terry, whose debut novel, The Beloved Daughter, won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, The Book Club Network, and Readers' Favorite.

NEW BOOK RELEASE: Slave Again by Alana Terry is hot off the press, and both the ebook and paperback are at a steep (30-60%) discount!! Prices will go up soon, so grab your copy today.

 Slave Again book trailer (contains one mildly violent image)

About the Author: Alana is passionate about human-rights issues in North Korea and has devoted her writing to raise both awareness and funds to help North Korean refugees find freedom and safety. You can learn more about her work with Liberty in North Korea at

Check out Slave Again now before the price goes up, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned! I will be posting a review of the book, Slave Again, here soon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

When The Game Stands Tall triumphs!

Do you know what you are doing this weekend?

I do!

You are going to one of the best movies I have seen in awhile, When The Game Stands Tall.

Sony Pictures/Affirm Films brings to the screen an incredibly inspiring story of a High School football coach who chose to teach a generation of young men about character on and off the field. Based on true events, this movie tells the remarkable story of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport."

Now this movie isn't about the climb to winning all those games - instead it focuses on what became of the 2004 team that dropped the ball and lost for the first time in twelve years. Life isn't about being on the top. Character is built when you fall and pick yourself back up. That is the philosophy of this great inspirational movie.
"Don't let a game define who you are. Let the way you live your lives do that."
Along with some of the other great movies that have come from the sports arena, like Remember the Titans, Rudy, The Blind Side and of course for Christian movie-goers, Facing the Giants - greatness is not found on a scoreboard. Coach Lad made sure to focus his boys on community, personal bests and the connection and preservation of family. This movie goes for an extra touchdown than some of the other inspirational sports movies have in that Coach Lad reminds everyone it is never about winning.

Of course the first question you might be asking if you aren't a sports fan is how much football is in the movie. My answer ... a lot. But please don't let that deter you. The message of the film penetrates so much deeper than the hits, runs, passes and blocks of high school football. As well, I thought the filming of the game scenes were done well. They're high impact and realistic - from my perspective.

This is the kind of movie that leaves you thinking and pondering long after the credits roll. It is incredibly well-rounded and superbly written. The actors are all fantastic and believable. The scene shots are vivid and eye-catching. I have nothing but praise.

As far as the element of faith goes, this movie is not hard hitting and bible thumping. The story takes place at a Catholic private school in California. The producers did not hide this fact at all - there are scenes of prayer, religious based classes and God is spoken of openly as a part of their lives.  Very natural. Coach Lad's faith permeates his life - all the while showing that he is not perfect. In fact, he teaches the boys that you can never be perfect - like have the perfect game or perfect record, but each and every thing you do should be marked by giving:
"A perfect effort from snap to whistle."
And isn't that so true of our our faith journeys. You will never live without mistake or failure but don't quit and don't give up. From snap to whistle.

Families will love this movie. The only aspects for families with small children is there is football violence up close and loud, there is a scene of smoking, a scene of partying and a scene of sexual innuendos among teen boys. These are minimal but definitely present. Check out the Focus on the Family's Plugged In review for more information.

And if I could borrow a quote from another fellow's blog posting titled Why you should see When The Game Stands Tall with your Teens
"It’s a good movie with a message, not a good message with a movie."
Check it out!  Either visiting your local movie theaters or picking up the DVD in the coming months - DON'T MISS OUT!

For those looking for even a little more information here are a few links of interesting things I discovered in my own research I couldn't resist sharing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

God's Not Dead. He is Surely Alive!

I know its only September 8th and if you live anywhere more southern than me (I'm in Canada), you probably haven't even pulled out the "s" word yet. Or even your little mitties. But today I'm watching the "s" word fall.

So ... a snowy Monday seems like the perfect time to talk about movies.

Lately, Christian movie-goers have felt a little like kids at Christmas. Hollywood has heard our cry for family-friendly movies with a strong moral message. We've been blessed with so many movie makers and companies stepping up to the plate. So, let's continue to support those folks with our time and our money.

Unfortunately I have not been able to make it out to the theaters for many of the newest releases as I don't live that close to the kinds of theaters that bring in these movies. So my form of support this summer has consisted of DVD purchases. That also means I might be reviewing a movie you watched in the theaters months ago. Sorry.

God's Not DeadOur latest DVD was God's Not Dead. My whole family squished across two couches this summer to watch it. If you're not familiar with it check out the trailer and the synopsis. (**NOTE: there is a spoiler alert below, if you haven't seen the movie read with caution.)

For starters, I was excited about the premise - the whole idea that my teens raised in a faith-based home might one day have to defend what they believe. Amazingly I actually became a Christian during my university years - but certainly not from anything I learned in the classroom. In fact I found often what I heard in class sounded obscurely opposite (or in contrast to) what I read about God. So needless to say I was excited my teens wanted to watch this movie.

The trailer sets the story up nicely, but I must admit that the movie falls a bit flat beyond that point. There was too much going on in the periphery of the main plot that kept any of the characters from being fully flushed out. Again, something I wish we'd outgrow in Christian movies today is the stereotyped character lines. For example in God's not Dead we have the main character Josh on his very complex and overwhelming task of proving that God is in fact, not dead, yet we do not see much of his home life. We know very little about what he believes or lives out aside from his cross pendant and his egotistical and absolutely unlikable girlfriend. Now in reality we might have some people's whose faith is barely skin deep, but she takes selfish to a whole new level. I'd like to know how the two of them even came to be together in the first place. Unrealistic.

Then there is a side story of a Pastor and his missionary friend. These two men were the comic relief of the story I guess. However, again very flat, two-dimensional characters who, other than cameo appearances in Josh's life and the professor's, added nothing to the plot.

I could go on with the other periphery characters in the story but suffice it to say they were very distracting. The most important part for me was the interactions between the professor and the student. That is what we wanted to see. Unfortunately for me this was not done deep enough. There wasn't anything concrete my kids came away from Josh's argument, other than they can't really prove God is alive but they can point a lot of fingers at the "big, bad, mean teacher".

I knew professors in University who definitely didn't believe in God but none of them were threatening and cruel. I don't know why the movie makers made the Atheist professor the predictable bad guy who ties the good guy onto the train tracks. In fact all the atheist characters in the movie were portrayed as mean, hurtful, and completely unfeeling "bad" people.

Is that what the unbelievers in your life look like?

Lastly I need to touch on the ending. As five of us watched the movie we all unanimously hated the ending. It was paper thin with stereotypical and cheesy overtones. Of course, ****SPOILER ALERT**** Radisson dies in a tragic accident just as he is starting to realize he might believe in God after all. He is ushered into heaven with the sinner's prayer on his dying lips.

God's Not Dead was disappointing for us.

However, I stand wholeheartedly behind evangelistic efforts and most ardently support Christian film making. I have sat through many growing pains of movies made that have poor acting, poor filming or whatever in order to one day produce high caliber and entertainment worthy films with a positive message.  I believe we are on the right road, and I do think this movie is a step in the right direction.

My faith is multi-dimensional. My faith is complex. And my attempts to share that faith with someone would look different every time. Lets see a movie that doesn't kill off the bad guys, tainted and impossible to like because of their unbelief.

Let's try and love them to Jesus instead.

I did like the music though!!! Did you know that Shane Harper, the actor who plays the College student in the movie writes and records his own songs. Check out this song!

BTW, checking out another upcoming movie - this time in the theaters! Stay tuned to hear about When The Game Stands Tall.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Awesome Interview with Author Gina Holmes

Today is a treat for me and for you. For all the book reviews I've done I've only had the privilege of an author visiting a couple of times. So that makes today special. Yet, that's not all. Today our visitor is fast becoming my favorite "go-to" author, Gina Holmes.

I started following her blog, Novel Rocket several years ago. Then last summer I managed to finally get my hands on one of her books, Dry As Rain

Wow! That is my favorite book of all right now. I loved it! So I read Crossing Oceans and love it. I am currently devouring Wings of Glass.

So without any further babble form me, please welcome, novelist, Gina Holmes.  

Gina is the founder of popular literary site, She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.

Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.

Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.

She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.

Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?

Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)

You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?

It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.

The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?

I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!

You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?

Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.

You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?

Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)

What do you like most about being a writer? Least?

Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.

Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)

Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

My advice is pretty much always the same. 1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work. 2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much  you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time. 3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!) 4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!

If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?

Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.

Where can readers find your books and more about you?

Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon(ca), Amazon (com), Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Thanks so much for hosting me!

Thanks for stopping by Gina! It was such a treat getting to know you more. I will definitely be reading Driftwood Tides asap.

Driftwood Tides released this week - so go get one!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review of Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Cover Art
Sarah Loudin Thomas' debut novel is a delightful read. I loved the cover with its simplistic picture filled with so much hope and promise. That's exactly what this book leaves with you.

Publisher's Blurb: In a Drought, It's the Darkest Cloud That Brings Hope
It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.
Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

The story of Perla and Casewell infiltrated my heart with its simple but profound message. We are all forgiven. *If we choose to accept it.*

The characters in the story were well rounded individuals. I enjoyed them all - even crusty ol' John. He grows on you as he travels his own journey of understanding and accepting the greatest gift of all. But truly my favorite was the little child, Sadie. I flipped the last page of the book still believing she was the true miracle in the story. Now I hope those aren't spoilers. All that to say Loudin Thomas did a marvelous job of introducing fine characters that came alive within the story, growing in their struggles and in their faith.

That brings me to the next praise - the faith of the story. Loudin Thomas is not shy in her display of God in this book. Some might criticize this, but not me. I love a book that digs deep into the heart of God and the faith journey of the characters. Yet, the message remains simple - forgiveness is available to all, no matter what you've done.

The setting of the story did not stand out, but was woven nicely through the story with the dialogue and the characters.

This delightful story takes the reader on a journey of acceptance and understanding. The plot moves like a gentle flowing stream. Unlike the premise of the story, the plot does not dry up! Although it isn't the type of story that kept me up late at night, reading into the wee hours of the morning, it pulled my reader's heart through page after page to find the sweet ending.

Overall, a very pleasant and encouraging read! Check it out! There is an excerpt for you to try at the Publisher's webpage. Also, an interesting note is that Sarah Loudin Thomas wrote a novella, Appalachian Serenade that is available on Kindle. (It is free at the time of writing this post.) It is the story of Delilah, Perla's Aunt in Miracle in a Dry Season.  Available for you as well is a video of the author. Check them both out!

Thanks to Graf Martin, Bethany House Publishers and the author for my free copy of this book. I received it in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to review it positively.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review of Atlas Girl by Emily T. Wierenga

 You need to read this book!

Cover Art
Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. 

Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents' rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else--anywhere else. Her travels took her across three continents in buses, cars, and planes, across mountains and over deep blue seas.

What she hadn't realized was that her faith was waiting for her the whole time--in the place she least expected it.

Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a deeply personal story of the yearning we all share to be truly known, entirely forgiven, and utterly loved.

I loved this memoir. I've never read a memoir before so I wasn't exactly certain what to expect. I was so pleasantly surprisedThe power and passion behind Emily T. Wierenga's prodigal story is profound and absolutely amazing. Her raw honesty touched my heart in so many ways. It was a book of aching tears, anger, sweet smiles and quiet reflection - and I felt every one of those on every single page!

What I loved most about Emily's book was her writing. Her brutally honest assessment bled into each chapter with each word she chose. It's poetic flavour and heart-gripping prose left me speechless at times. It made the pages sing like a bouquet. (That's my lame attempt to be like her ;)). In her own words, Emily says: "That's life and faith too. Messy, blurred and beautiful." Anyway, her words truly were beautiful and open and authentic as she laid bare her heart and her life with her readers.

The next thing I loved about her book was the actual story. Her life has been colourful and vibrant at times and seared with pain and loss at others. Her journey closer to the heart of God demonstrated on each page so beautifully depicts the brokenness and redemption tension we all live in.  The story of her childhood eating disorder and family angst married into her mother's great loss physically and emotionally was poignant and bittersweet. Yet with the sweetest of endings that only God could author.

One last thing I loved about the book were the quotes. Each chapter began with a quote. I wrote many of them down in my journal alongside some new ones I love too by Emily.

The only downfall I encountered in reading the book was the bouncing timeline. Each chapter tells a story starting with the location and the date. This was helpful at first. But the chapters do not tell a linear story. And soon I began turning back and forth to discover if this next segment happened before or after that segment. However, in hindsight I discovered a couple of things. First, that the way and format she tells her story is truly compelling and interactive - indicative of how our lives are so interwoven through people and time. After awhile I choose to ignore the dates and just fall into the story as Emily chose to unfold it. This helped greatly. Secondly, (and I didn't find this till I turned the last page) there is a proper, consecutive timeline printed on the last pages. A great thing to include - only wished I'd seen it earlier.

On a personal side note, it was very fun for me to read a book where I've been to one of the setting locations. I live only a few hours from Edmonton, Alberta and found a sense of school-girl joy when she would list a location that I'd been to and could actually picture. That was cool! It has been a great pleasure to support a local CANADIAN author.

Overall, I've been so profoundly impacted by Emily's story and her faith in love and in His love. I received my copy of her book for free but have already ordered a few copies to use for friends and family that I know will love her story.

Without any hesitation I recommend this book to anyone. Especially those who have wandered aimlessly in their journey with God. Whether you had (or have) an eating disorder, a debilitating illness in your family or a twisted and convoluted view of religion doesn't matter. This book goes so much deeper than the events into the heart of what God truly wants for us. Emily quotes many times throughout her book the whisper from God that I'm certain changed her life.

Watch Me take care of you.

And who of us doesn't want to see the Hand of God in our lives?

Find an excerpt here. Or a book trailer here. Or Emily herself here.

Thank you to Emily Wierenga, Nuts About Books Blogger program and Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this amazing book. I received the book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review of Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

I was completely captured by Jody Hedlund's latest novel!

Cover ArtMichigan Territory, 1814

A voyageur and a young woman swept up in a time of upheaval and danger
discover firsthand the high price of freedom.

The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders.

Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British--and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who's grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.

As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they'll risk for love.

Captured by Love was a deep and abiding love story that I suspect will stick with me for awhile. The characters felt alive on the page with anxiety and passion that I couldn't help absorbing. The book was hard to put down. The action wasn't intense and edge of your seat, but the love story was. The obstacles that this couple faced were challenging and seem to mount higher with each turn of a page. It felt much like plucking the petals of a daisy - they will be together; they won't be together; they will ... they won't. It pulled me through the story with a fierceness many stories lack.

The conclusion of the book, and the love story, didn't come with a crash or boom, instead it gently led the characters to a very natural ending that didn't feel contrived, forced or unrealistic. I enjoyed this part of the story the most.

Another awesome aspect of the story was the obviously powerful attraction and passionate bond between the two main characters. It at times felt so powerful that it would lead the hero and heroine to fall into sin. However Hedlund portrayed their angst/desire for each other beautifully and yet within the bounds of Christian fiction. The spiritual journey each character had to travel revealed the often times, very real emotions of lust, passion and sexual desire. Yet, this was perfectly balanced with their love and commitment to follow God's will and plan for each of their lives. Sometimes faith can be arduous. Well done, Jody.

The setting was beautiful and devastating at the same time - a war-torn isolated island of such breathtaking beauty in contrast to a harshness of survival. I felt the setting played a key role in the plot, keeping the reader entrenched in the emotions of the story.

Jody Hedlund did a fantastic job with this story. The writing felt so natural and flowed with ease. I have only read a few of her books to date, but she is closely becoming one of my tops! Captured by Love is the third book in her Michigan Bride Collection and from the tiny bread crumbs dropped in the final chapters I will bet there is another one on the way. (?) I have not read book 1, Unending Devotion or book 2, A Noble Groom in the series yet. This did not affect the enjoyment of this story at all. Check out her book links page where you can click on any of the books and find fun facts, chapter excerpts and reading discussion guides. Enjoy!

A definite recommended read for those who love epic love stories and historical backgrounds. A beautiful bouquet!

Feel free to check out Jody's blog if you are interested in writing. She has won awards for how helpful and fun her blog is. She is also active on facebook and twitter. On her website is a media page where she shares links from her book blogging tour she made this July to celebrate the release of Capture by Love. Be sure to check out the fun!

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to review it positively.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review of Stuck Together by Mary Connealy

When a lawman who values order gets stuck with a feisty crusader who likes to stir things up, there's going to be trouble in Texas! 

Cover ArtStuck Together is the third book in Mary Connealy's Trouble in Texas series. Book one was Swept Away and book two was Fired Up. The trilogy follows the lives and troubles of a group of men who met in the war and have bonded closer than brothers. They now all live in the same small town in Texas called Broken Wheel.

Publisher's Blurb:
Now that she's settled in town, Tina Cahill is determined to get Broken Wheel's saloon closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is showing signs of dementia. And his surprise sister quickly falls for one of Vince's best friends. Vince suddenly has a lot of people depending on him, and Tina doesn't approve of how he's handling any of them.

With nearly every other man in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with strong-willed Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her crazy causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he's got one more surprise coming his way: Tina's picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.

What I liked: Stuck Together is another notch in Mary Connealy's belt in telling entertaining, romantic comedy. This story is a lighthearted read filled with fun and adventure.

The heroine, Tina Cahill was fun. Her natural penchant for trouble combined with her fragile self-esteem made for a character you could root for. Vince seemed like an appropriate match for her. He's smitten with her from the first moment he saw her, but restrains due to his own hurts and fears of every having a family. His restraint only feeds her inner turmoil that she is unlovable. The cat-chasing-his-tail conundrum created by these two makes the pages easy to turn to find their resolution.

The mystery side of the plot was engaging as I couldn't guess the trouble maker until the characters started to figure it out. Also the tension that Connealy added in page after page pushing "Invincible" Vince to the edge was enjoyable to read.

What I didn't like: Jonas' story. I was very disappointed with this part. If you've read along with the series so far you will understand what I'm talking about. If you are just joining with the Trouble in Texas Series now, you may not find anything out of joint at all.

Jonas is the last leg of The Regulators group to fall in love. Instead of giving him his own book like the others, he is given a few chapters throughout this one. It is a whirlwind romance ending in a proposal after a couple days. Then the rest of the book the two lovebirds sneak off constantly, returning with messed hair and disheveled clothing. He is the town Parson! I absolutely did not like this part of the book.

I also found the writing disjointed. It felt "narrated" most of the time. It made the reading choppy for me. This series has not been as good as her earlier one The Kincaid Brides.

I would recommend this book to others who are familiar with Mary Connealy and like romantic cowboy comedy. However this is not a good one to start out with if you've never read her before. She has a new book coming out in September titled Tried and True, book one in the Wild at Heart series.

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not expected to review it positively.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I dare to believe in incredible things!

A group from our youth are in Mexico on a missions trip to offer help to an orphanage and assist with running a summer VBS.

The day they left our little town and headed off into the somewhat "unknown" I heard a song on the radio. It was such a powerful message I had to check it out further. So at home I investigated (er, uh I mean "googled").

Here is the video (AWESOME VIDEO) I found.

On a blog our Youth Pastor is using to keep us in the loop, he talks about an experience that hopefully taught those young men and women about being a part of the impossible. I will recap his thoughts here but please feel free to visit and read for yourself. MCYGMissions

Before leaving on the missions trip the youth group studied the life and thoughts of George Mueller. The Youth learned

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review of Silenced by Dani Pettrey

A fantastic read! Dani Pettrey's fourth installment in the Alaskan Courage Series is out and she hasn't missed a beat yet!

Cover ArtJake Knew Something Was Wrong. 
But He Never Guessed 
How Wrong. 

A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna's route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake's past now revealed, he's ready to use his talent for investigation again--but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.

Kayden's climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine. 

Silenced was an exciting read filled with an amazing cast of characters. Most of them are all familiar to readers who have been following the series all along. I read this book from that perspective, having started with Dani and the McKenna clan in book #1 Submerged. I am not a good person to ask how the story holds its own to a reader just joining the fun. However, each of the past characters plays a supporting role in the book, continuing on with their story lines slightly. This makes the characters more fleshed out then just names and casual mentions. 

I have been looking forward to this story line since the middle of book #3 Stranded. Kayden always drew my curiosity in the ways she poked and prodded at Jake, hoping to prove him a fraud. In book #3 we all got a glimpse into his secretive past making us all, Kayden included, like him a little bit more.

Now in Silenced we have the full growth of that change into a budding romance. And a sweet one at that. Jake is

Friday, July 4, 2014

New Beginnings, Shaky Steps

Things look very different in our house these days.

My oldest daughter graduated last week, the same day my youngest got her first job. I feel old.

But proud :)

It got me thinking about how much life is changing and wondering if we are ready. Soon our active household of five will be four with an empty chair at meals. Then ten short months after that we will be able to reduce our kitchen table to a small nook - just enough room for three.

Life changes on us, doesn't it.

At the present time there is an RV parked in our yard. It isn't ours. It belongs to a couple from our church who are facing a life change too. They'll stay there a few days longer -- a little hesitant to say goodbye to what was and also a little excited to find out what lies ahead. But so many questions are churning.

Much like us.

I am the kind of person who likes change - well, as long as I had some say in it. So as my oldest daughter prepares to pack up her room and squeeze it into an enlarged closet called a dorm room, I am excited for her. And for us. Yet, I'm getting a little weepy as I write this and I can guarantee on the day we wave her off I will be as well, BUT I am not distraught. I am hopeful.

But let me call it hope that has been worked for.

Often when we

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review of Arms Open Wide by Sherri Gragg

Arms Open Wide : A Call to Linger in the Savior's Presence, Sherri Gragg
Come near. Stop striving. The Master of the banquet has raised His glass to welcome you as His dear child.
So often Christians view Christ as someone who’s far away and can’t be approached until they have their lives in order. In Arms Open Wide, author Sherri Gragg proves that Christ is a kinder, more tender, more loving Savior than many understand Him to be.
Sherri writes in fictional narrative form while mixing biblical history with scripture, creating a setting that transforms readers back in time and places them right in Jesus’ presence. For thirty-five days readers walk with the Savior to witness miraculous healings and events, and give fresh insight into His power by thinking and feeling with people whose lives became instantly transformed by His love and grace. Readers journey with Jesus and His disciples in the most important time in history.
Hearts will be stirred and lives will be changed as readers draw near and walk with the Savior as never before. 

So much attracted me to this book. First of all, the title ... "arms open wide" has been a visual I have tried to hold in my mind of Christ. "A call to linger" ... is such a beautiful word picture of what God desires for us. Friendship. Fellowship.

Yet, as you know from your own lives, friendship does not grow out of nothing. There is time invested; hearts invested. And so that brings us to Sherri Gragg's wonderful devotional/storybook.

Basically in the simplest terms, Gragg's book is

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Diligence - earnest and persistent application to a matter in hand

Diligent - characterized by persevering, painstaking effort.

Recently we had visiting Missionaries from Cuba in our church. They spoke to our congregation challenging us to grow deeper in knowledge and relationship with the Holy Spirit. They inspired us to accept that God has an answer to every concern, worry, challenge or mountain you may be facing. They referred to 2 Kings 2:9 where Elisha asked for a "double portion" of the blessings Elijah had received. The Missionaries challenged us to seek more from God. To push the limits of our imaginations to where God can use us and bless us more than we could ever dream in each situation.

After their message the couple gave a review of Cuba's history and where they are now. And one particular event stood out in my mind so strongly. I know

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review of A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Book #2 in Tamera Alexander's Belmont Mansion Series is well written, exquisitely described and thoroughly enjoyable.

Publisher's Blurb:
Cover ArtPink is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war--and still had one to fight.

Plain, practical Eleanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

I love Tamera's stories. Her beautiful writing draws me in as a reader and entices my heart and my mind. This book was no exception. The beauty of the book comes out in the theme of

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review of Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

What a wild, fun ride for readers who love humor, history and endearing, captivating characters.

Publisher's Blurb:
Cover ArtA girl with the best of intentions. A heart set on Hollywood. An empty pocketbook.
That's all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She's tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can't deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she's not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It's simple: avoid Griff's attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call...with her very own Griff as the target.
With an endearing heroine as her lead, Siri Mitchell takes readers on a madcap tale of love and discovering one's true desires!

This is my first read from Siri L Mitchell. It was a wonderfully fun read - like taking a trip down the rabbit hole on the heels of Alice in Wonderland. The characters were lively and fun; especially the main heroine, Ellis Eton. Mitchell writes her in first person point of view and brings the reader right into the crazy and roller-coaster-ed thoughts of this undoubtedly ADD character. It was at times dizzy-ing to keep up but I felt that Siri Mitchell did an excellent job of bringing a balance back to the reader.

The story was

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review of One God, One Plan, One Life by Max Lucado

A beautiful hard cover year devotional packed full with insight, inspiration and encouragement. A perfect gift!

One God, One Plan, One Life : A 365 Devotional, Max LucadoPublisher's Blurb: Life is hard, and today’s teens could use daily guidance and reassurance that God is with them, through it all and despite it all. In One God, One Plan, One Life, bestselling author Max Lucado offers teens an accessible way to connect with their Lord. Daily devotions address such topics as faith and obedience but also offer wisdom on topics that teens battle, such as purity, bullying, alcohol and drug use, and self-image. Each day includes a short devotion and accompanying scripture as well as a take-away application that will inspire and challenge teens to trust in God and His plans for them.

One God, One Plan, One Life helps teens to cut through life’s distractions and rely on the one thing that is truly important—a relationship with God.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can't wait to pass it on to my teenage daughter. Each devotional page has a scripture verse, a story or explanation and a deeper application. (F.Y.I. The scripture verses are taken from many different translations.) It only takes a couple of

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review for Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

When I saw the front cover of Lisa Wingate's newest book I knew I wanted to read it.

I'd always wanted to try out one of Lisa Wingate's books so this looked like the perfect opportunity. However, it turned out nothing like I had expected. This is a hard review for me to write. I never wanted to be the one poor review amidst a slew of positives ... yet here we go.

I did not enjoy this story like I had hoped I would have. The premise attracted me at first.

Cover Art
With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.

What's not to like about that you ask? I love suspense, romance, western flair and the whole filming plot thread drew me in. However, probably the biggest problem for me was the constant flip between present and past. The main story is about Allie Kirkland but is countered almost equally with a story about Bonnie Rose a young woman from 1861.

Both stories are written well and I loved the first person point of view. However every time the switch was made it jolted me from the story and I felt the overwhelming urge to close the book. It was like dragging myself from page to page. I kept it up, hoping I would settle into the flow. Unfortunately, I didn't.

On the bright side, I enjoyed the characters in the story and there was enough surge to keep me wondering what was next. I truly believe if the chapter changes hadn't been such a jolt, I would have enjoyed either story line immensely.

Unfortunately I did not finish the book, so I can't speak to the ending (and for that I am sorry) but I made it half way. The last straw for me was being almost 200 pages into the story and finding what should have been the first line of the story. The moment that the reader goes, "oh, this might get interesting".  That was where I quit. It was like starting over again and the haul had been too sluggish to re-commit.

It is important to note that the basics of story-telling were there and done well. So for many readers who can enjoy the inter-mixed story lines, the writing is superb.

The plot was interesting; the film industry, the colourful secondary characters, the mysterious cowboy. It was all well done. The historic story of Bonnie Rose was moving and had me cheering for the strong, determined young woman on every page.

The setting was intriguing. I especially loved the basement of the old theater. I felt cold and cramped every time I read those parts. It was amazingly written.

To recap, I didn't enjoy the structure of the teeter-totter stories. It made it difficult to stay invested. Without that aspect I think the story was strong and well written. I urge you to look around and check other reviews of this book, as I have and there are so many lovers out there. Here is one particular review to read from someone who thoroughly enjoyed the book - and finished it!

And despite my disappointment with Wildwood Creek, I will definitely consider reading another book from Lisa Wingate.

Thanks to Bethany House for the free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.