Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck – Makes characters and their world come to life


I love finding authors whose work is new to me and when they are good it’s like finding a treasure trove.  The Memory House is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Hauck and I very much enjoyed it.

What does NYPD Sergeant, Beck Holiday, have in common with the lovely bride, Everleigh Applegate, from Waco Texas in the 1950’s?  How will their lives intersect?  Can wounds that were suffered and emotional scars be healed?  Or is life as they know it over?  Will hope one day return?  Will there be another chance for happiness?  Can you rebuild a friendship with a friend who doesn’t remember the past?  Will the men in their lives, Bruno Endicott and Don Callahan, persevere in winning their hearts?  Will they find what it takes to overcome their career challenges?

What I liked best about this book were the characters, and though their lives were very different from one another, their lives shared some common themes.  I found the characters and their struggles very relatable.  It was interesting learning about the career of a sports agent.  I also enjoyed learning a little bit of Texas history. 

I confess at first, I found Beck Holiday kind of hard to understand and like.  She rubbed me the wrong way with her crummy attitude and lack of communication.  But over time, as more about her character’s background was revealed I came to understand and even like her.  I found myself frustrated with Everleigh and her inability or unwillingness to make changes and get her life back.  I almost felt suffocated by the grief she wallowed in, but then I realized that perhaps the character felt suffocated too. 

I wish that some of the main characters had a strong Christian faith and that it had been woven into the storyline.  Some of the background characters were Christians and I especially appreciated Gaynor and her display of grace and forgiveness. 

Overall, I liked The Memory House and recommend it.  Author Rachel Hauck has a way of drawing a reader into the lives of her characters and making their world come alive.  I think it must be challenging for an author to write about two timelines and two sets of characters.  But Rachel did a wonderful job and it was easy to switch back and forth between the timelines.  The Memory House is a place I would like to visit.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and Audra Jennings for the opportunity to read The Memory House in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.



About the author Rachel Hauck:

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.



If you would like to read The Memory House by Rachel Hauck enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway:





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 24, 2019

With Winter’s First Frost by Kelly Irvin – Relatable, Insightful and Memorable


Kelly Irvin is an author whose work is relatively new to me.  With Winter’s First Frost is the fourth book in the Every Amish Season Novels and I absolutely loved this book. 

Laura Kauffman was one of my favorite characters, the kind of woman you would love to have as a mother or grandmother.  I could relate to her physical aches and pains that come with getting older, understood the grief she felt even after being a widow for so many years and appreciated her willing, loving and helpful spirit to so many of her family and friends.  I came to appreciate, understand and care about Zechariah Stutzman through Laura’s eyes.  He wasn’t just a difficult cranky old man.  He was funny and intelligent and a man who grieved the loss of his beloved wife.  Because of Parkinson’s his body wasn’t cooperating with him and it made daily life difficult, so much so that this family tried to protect him and even seemed to treat him like a child.  Was he just a burden to his family now or was he still useful?  Dare these older people think about or ever hope to find love again so late in life? 

A part of the story I found interesting was Laura’s two great-granddaughters, Tamara and Hannah.  Both were facing critical decisions in their young lives that would impact their futures.  Not to get off track, but I wondered how the Amish could biblically justify banning a member of their community when the person genuinely repented of their sin and sought forgiveness.  I found the way that the older parents were treated somewhat bothersome.  I appreciate that the Amish care for their elderly family members, but in this story, it seemed as if they were treated in a manner like you would a child, instead of respected intelligent adult.    

Kelly is gifted writer and is able to weave a story and capture, in a very relatable way, what characters are thinking and feeling in their season of life.  I could understand the memories, fears, sorrow, hopes and desires that these characters expressed.  Kelly is very insightful in bringing these characters to life and they are very memorable, I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn’t reading the book.  She paints a picture of the Amish community with her words that is beautiful, interesting and intriguing. 

I’ve not read too many Amish themed books, but I love Kelly Irvin’s writing and I highly recommend With Winter’s First Frost.  It’s a beautiful story with rich, loveable and relatable characters in a season of life that many of us may face.  

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan for the opportunity to read With Winter’s First Frost by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 



Sunday, March 10, 2019

Four Soils of the Human Heart


























The Seed
The Word of God
Sown into the sinful human heart

The sower proclaims the Word of God
Christ as Lord
Shares the Gospel message

The hard heart
Unreceptive to the Word
The seed cannot penetrate
The soil of the hardened human heart
Ears hear, but the words are not understood
Soon the evil one will snatch away what was sown

Dare I say
We all were born with a hard heart
Alive to sin and dead to God

The superficial heart
Soil that looks good at first glance
But lying beneath is a bedrock of stone
Seed is sown and springs up ever so quickly
Soon it will wither and die under the sun’s scorching heat
Roots cannot grow deep nor penetrate a heart of stone

A heart preoccupied
Good soil, polluted with weeds and thorns
Rob good seed of nutrients and light needed to grow
Soon the seed will be choked out, slowly over time it dies
Just like the cares, worries and riches of this world
Leave behind an empty shell, with no life, nor fruit of faith

Lastly, we see the good soil
A heart prepared by God through His Word
The seed of the Gospel is heard and understood
A repentant heart responds
Bearing the fruit of the Spirit
Obedience and faithfully persevering

What is necessary for bad soil?
Nothing, do absolutely nothing!
What about good soil?
God uses His Word to prepare a sinner’s heart
Enables one to hear the Word
Understand it and bear fruit

So, which is it?
The Sovereignty of God?
The responsibility of man?
Yes!


By Susan Wachtel
March 10, 2019


This poem was inspired by a sermon from our Pastor, Tom Pennington on Matthew 13:1-23 – The Parable of the Sower, and from the notes that I took. 

I would like to encourage you to listen to this message, Four Soils Part 2.  Perhaps you are concerned about the salvation of a loved one…someone you’ve prayed for.  Maybe you are wondering if you are truly saved?  Was there a profession of faith?  When you look back do you see fruit?  Fruit of repentance?  Fruit of the Spirit? 

There is absolutely nothing more important than knowing with absolute assurance that you are saved, forgiven of your sin, all because of Jesus Christ and His perfect and complete atoning death on the cross. 

This last week, we saw news about celebrities who died unexpectedly.  One was pretty young.  The thing is, none of us knows the day and hour when we will die.  Once we die, there are no second chances.  There will be no changing our minds.  It’s important that we get it right today.  For today is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.  And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.

And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.  And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  Matthew 13:1-9




Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin – Memorable...A Real Gem!


When I find an author whose books I like, I want to read all of them.  That’s why I was excited to find author Sarah Sundin’s newest book The Sky Above Us, which is the second book in her Sunrise at Normandy Series. 

The story of the Paxton family continues in The Sky Above Us as we are introduced to the middle brother, Lt. Alder Paxton.  He is making his way to England where he will be stationed with American Air Force in 1943, as they join the battle to prepare for D-Day.  Though he is trying to leave his past behind him, it has a way of catching up.  What are the chances that 5,000 miles from home Alder will see his estranged brothers Wyatt and Clay?  Onboard ship, Alder will meet the lovely Violet Lindstrom who is with the American Red Cross.  She has her sights set on serving as a missionary one day, in a faraway land.  Little did she know that the Lord would open her eyes to a different mission field that would resonate with her heart’s longing and desires.

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book.  Not only did I like the setting, WWII in England as D-Day approached, but also the characters and how they fit into a pivotal time in our history.  Sarah must have done a lot of research to make the dogfights and battles seem so realistic and easy to visualize.  In reading The Sky Above Us, I got a taste of what the people who lived through that era may have experienced. 

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the history of the American Red Cross and their roll in helping servicemen as they served abroad.  Those women who served were hardworking and brave and they too put their lives on the line. 

As much as I was intrigued and fascinated with the setting and characters, I loved and learned from some of the themes in the book.  Forgiveness was looked at from many different angles.  Compassion, mercy, humility, obedience, friendship, self-righteousness, repentance and God’s calling were some of the other themes. 

I very much liked Adler and Violet, but my favorite character was Nick Westin.  He was a wonderful friend, mentor, brother in Christ, father and husband.  I’d love to see a book about this character.  He was memorable and very dear.

Not only did I love The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin, but I learned from it.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the greatest generation and what they did to save our Country and the Western world from Nazism.  This is a book I will read again and would definitely give it as a gift.  I took my time reading this book and I didn’t want it to end.  It was so enjoyable to read it at the end of each day.  Though it’s part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone book. 

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Killing the Deep State by Jerome R Corsi – A Detailed and Well Documented Examination of the Unprecedented and Coordinated Attacks on the President


Like so many Americans who enjoy politics, I followed the 2016 election long before President Trump was the nominee, as well as the aftermath which has continued as Robert Mueller’s “investigation” goes on and on.  Because of that I was interested in reading Jerome Corsi’s new book Killing the Deep State – The Fight to Save President Trump.  I wanted to find out what Corsi’s take was on all that’s gone on.

In Killing the Deep State, Jerome goes into a lot of detail on the different aspects of the attacks on President Trump.  Starting with the FBI and the multitude of key players including Comey, Page, Strozok, Rosenstein, McCabe, the Ohrs and Christopher Steele.  We can’t leave out Hillary Clinton and company, nor the Department of Justice with their cast of characters.  How does Julian Assange and the main stream media fit into the puzzle? 

But why all the attacks?  It was just another election, right?  It happens every four years, someone wins and someone loses.  What made the 2016 Election different?  That’s where Jerome Corsi starts diving in and unpeeling the Russian Collusion narrative and what’s behind it.  Who are the driving forces and why? 

With all that’s gone on over the last three years, I had forgotten some of the happenings.  But Jerome Corsi goes in to great detail to document what’s happened and explain why it’s happened.  This book is well researched and well documented, over twenty percent of the book lists details about the sources of information. 

Like Trump or hate him, whether you are a supporter or critic, most people will acknowledge that there have been unprecedented, multifaceted and unrelenting attacks on President Trump like nothing we’ve seen before.

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, I think we can all agree that no one should be above the law.  We want our government officials and law enforcement to operate within the law and not corrupt it for their own agenda.  The agenda that someone might support today, because they don’t like the current President, can easily be turned around and used against them by the next administration or group in power. 

I do recommend Jerome R Corsi’s book Killing the Deep State.  It was very interesting and if I can be honest, it was kind of depressing.  Reading about corruption within our own government is very unsettling and overwhelming.

If you like politics and want to know what’s happened over the last few years, you’ll want to read Killing the Deep State by Jerome Corsi.  He presents theories as to what motivates and drives the corruption that we’ve seen take place.  You may agree with it or have your own theories. 

I would like to thank NetGalley and Humanix Books for the opportunity to read Killing the Deep State by Jerome R Corsi in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter – If you like a good love story, time to step away for little while and read.


On Magnolia Lane is the first book that I’ve read by author by Denise Hunter and I really enjoyed it.  This is the third book in the Blue Ridge Romance Series.  Though it’s part of a series, it’s good as a standalone book. 

The story is about Jack McReady who happens to be the local Pastor.  One of his congregants is Daisy Pendleton and she’s been meeting with Jack for counseling over a couple of years now.  He’s pretty much head over heals in love with Daisy and she is oblivious.  Will she ever be able to see Jack as something more than her Pastor?  Will Jack ever be bold enough to ask Daisy out on a date?  Or will this romance need a little help from their friends? 

I really liked the characters in this book.  They weren’t perfect, but they were kind, descent and caring people that I’d like to spend time with.  The story takes place in the small town of Copper Creak, Georgia and after reading this book I wish it really existed because I’d like to visit.   

One of my favorite characters was the mystery woman Julia.  I found myself drawn into her quest and appreciated how understanding and gracious she was.  I liked the friendship that developed between Daisy and Julia.

Denise’s style of writing is very inviting.  She has a way of helping the reader to visualize the places and people, but without being too wordy.  She leaves room for imagination.  I thought Denise was insightful in bringing out what was going on within the characters, their insecurities and wounds from the past that haven’t quite healed, that still impacted relationships. 

I really enjoyed On Magnolia Lane.  I appreciated that the Christian faith was included in the character’s lives and that it was a clean novel and free from filthy language and sexual immorality.  There are some details about a character’s past that comes out, but the sinful choices were not glorified or made light of. 

In today’s world, where every where you turn there’s more bad news, it’s really nice to be able to step away for a little while, into small town with a little romance.  If you like a good love story, be sure to read On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter.  I look forward to reading more of Denise’s novels. 

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to ready On Magnolia Lane in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 





Monday, January 07, 2019

Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan – Filled with Suspense, Mystery, Intrigue and Romance


If you like mysteries filled with intrigue and a little romance and be sure to read Rachel Dylan’s newest book Breach of Trust (to be released on February 5, 2019).  This is the third book in Atlanta Justice series and the characters in the first two books continue on in this current book.

Mia Shaw is a hardworking corporate attorney.  Her life is turned upside down when she discovers her friend and colleague, Chase Jackson, brutally murdered and she won’t stop until the guilty party is brought to justice.  Mia is assigned to the legal case Chase had been working on.  As she starts digging into the evidence, it appears corporate espionage may have occurred.  Mia’s going to need some help from a cyber security expert, but working with Noah Ramirez may be problematic.  Especially since he’s working to help clear his friend, David, who happens to be the prime suspect in Chase’s murder. 

Wow…Breach of Trust is action packed from the get go.  When you open the pages be ready to hit ground running.  It’s filled with suspense and intrigue that will keep you guessing until the end.  I found this book, very satisfying.  The characters were very likable, especially Mia’s friends Kate and Sophie, as well as Noah and his friends Cooper and Landon.  They are nice, decent people who care about each other and are committed to their friendships with one another.  I especially appreciated how the Christian faith was woven into the character’s lives and how they grew.  Rachel’s legal experience, knowledge and research all work to make Breach of Trust an interesting story. 

If you like suspense, romance and legal whodunnits…be sure to read Rachel Dylan’s newest book Breach of Trust, I highly recommend it.  Though this is the third book in the Atlanta Justice series, it works well as a stand-alone book.  I want to forewarn you, once you read one of Rachel’s books, you are going to want to read the rest of her books. 

I would like to thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Desperate Faith
















He was a man of desperate faith
Jairus was willing to risk it all
As he fell at the feet of Jesus

Reputation, respect and honor
What did that mean to him now
As his little girl lay dying

He went to the One
The only One who had the power
Over sickness and disease, even life and death

In desperation he begged
My daughter, she is going to die, unless
Please…come…touch and heal her.  So, Jesus went.

She was desperate, when would she ever have another chance
The crowds said Jesus was coming
He alone had the power to heal her

For twelve long years, she was considered unclean
An outcast, no one would even touch her
Everything had been wasted on doctors who couldn’t help her

In faith, with a trembling hand
She reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak
Immediately, after twelve long years, she was healed

Instead of going on His way
Jesus stopped
“Who touched Me?”

He looked around and saw her
He cared for her, for she was someone’s beloved daughter too
She confessed, He proclaimed, “Your faith has made you well.”

Waiting, the father’s desperation grew
Every moment, with every delay
He wondered, was his daughter still alive

The synagogue officials came with grim news
Don’t bother, she’s dead
Then Jesus said, “Do not fear…only believe.”

When they arrived, they were greeted with weeping and wailing
Mourners laughed when Jesus said, “She’s asleep.”
But the place emptied when He said leave

Surrounded by those who loved this girl
Parents with desperate faith
Jesus commanded, “Talitha, arise!”  And she arose.

Astounded with joy
Her parents took her by the hand
“Tell no one!”  And Jesus departed


Susan Wachtel
January 7, 2019


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Delayed Justice by Cara Putman – Law, Justice, Intrigue - A Delicate Topic Handled with Care



When I first read the description of Delayed Justice by Cara Putman there was a part of me that wanted to read it.  I love books about the law and justice that are filled with intrigue.  But the subject matter, sexual abuse of children, almost made me shy way.  I’m glad that I didn’t let that stop me, because this was a really good book. 

Delayed Justice is about a public defender, Jamie Nichols, who has finally come to a place of healing in her own life.  She has found her voice to speak up and bring to justice the man who took away her childhood.  But she will be up against political forces who will stop at nothing to shut her up.  Chandler Bolton, a former Vet, has scars of his own but now works to help former Vets integrate into life back home in the United States.  Together they will have the opportunity to help a young girl get justice and begin to heal, in part through the use of a therapy dog Aslan. 

I especially liked the friendships that Jamie had with Caroline, Hayden, Emilie and Savannah.  They were the kind of friends you want in your corner.  They were there for Jamie when she needed them and even when she didn’t know it.  I appreciated how Jamie’s parents responded when hearing for the first time what their daughter endured as a child and how they came alongside her to be there for her as she sought justice.  I loved Chandler and his patient and tender approach as he sought to get to know this intriguing and heroic young woman. 

Cara did a great job in handling a sensitive and delicate topic which has affected far too many people and left indelible scars.  She was able to tell the stories of Jamie and Tiffany and what happened to them without going into graphic details.  She kept the focus on the people and used the story to help make known some of the ways child sexual abuse may impact survivors long after childhood.  Seeking justice and healing the emotional and cognitive scars can happen.  It takes time and support.  I appreciated how Cara included the Christian faith and wove it into the characters and storyline. 

I highly recommended Delayed Justice by Cara Putman.  Her legal background and research came through to help make a really good novel.  Cara’s writing is new to me and I look forward to discovering her earlier work.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Delayed Justice in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Defiant Faith



She has a defiant faith
One that rests
Not in her circumstances
But in God alone

When her prayers seem to be unanswered
And God is silent
She strengthens her heart mind soul and spirit
In God’s perfect and inerrant Word

When others give way to doubt or fear
She instead sets her mind on Christ
And remembers His benefits
Her soul bursts forth in worship and praise

She knows of her heavenly Father’s great love
Before the foundation of the world was laid
He called her to salvation through His Beloved Son’s sacrifice
He has sealed her with the Holy Spirit

If He has met her greatest needs
Surely, He will care for her needs today
She chooses to trust God as He has revealed Himself to be
Her confidence rests in His unchanging, merciful lovingkindness

She has a defiant faith, a confident faith
One that does not waver
Like a light that does not dim
She rests secure in the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ


By Susan Wachtel
December 19, 2018

To a strong woman of God who is trusting God in her time of waiting upon the Lord. 




Friday, December 14, 2018

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon – Intrigue, Suspense and Romance


When given the opportunity to read Irene Hannon’s newest book, Hidden Peril, I jumped at the chance.  She’s quickly become one of my favorite writers.  This is the second book in the Code of Honor series and characters Kristin, Colin and Rick continue on this in this book with Kristin as the main focus. 

Hidden Peril is a gripping and suspenseful mystery, but it’s a little different because terrorism is part of the plot.  When you see stories on the news about ISIS and terrorism you don’t think it’s going to impact your everyday life.  But what if it did? 

Kristin Dane is not your ordinary woman.  After graduating college, she served in the Peace Corp in Ethiopia for two years.  When she returned home, she still had a vision to try and make a difference for good in the lives of people who live in war-torn countries.  When Luke Carter meets Kristin at the wedding of a mutual friend, he probably didn’t anticipate encountering her again, especially in his role as police detective.  Luke’s path intersects with this intriguing and beautiful woman when one of Kristin’s employees is found dead.  Is the death of a monk 10,000 miles away in Syria possibly connected? 

One of my favorite things about Irene’s writing are the characters.  They are good, decent, nice people that you’d like to know.  They grow, change and heal the brokenness in their lives.  In this book, you see wonderful examples of committed friendship between Kristin, Colin and Rick. 

Hidden Peril was very suspenseful and kept me guessing to the end.  Though I suspected who the bad guy was, I didn’t know how that would be revealed and what would happen to the people at the end of the story.

I greatly appreciate that Irene Hannon is able to write good books, with interesting likable characters and intriguing situations without resorting to filthy language, or immoral sexual situations.  I appreciate how she weaves the Christian faith into the character’s lives.

If you like intrigue, mystery and romance, be sure to read Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon.  It’s another great read by a wonderful author.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishers for the opportunity to read Hidden Peril in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 



The Memory House by Rachel Hauck – Makes characters and their world come to life

I love finding authors whose work is new to me and when they are good it’s like finding a treasure trove.   The Memory House is the fi...