Wednesday, September 04, 2019

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt – A beautiful and sorrowful love story during a pivotal time in history


When I first saw that there was an opportunity to read My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by author Amanda Barratt, I wasn’t interested.  Mostly because this novel would be hard to read emotionally and learn more about the evils that happened during World War II.  But I’m so glad I took a second look and decided to read it. 

Before I read My Dearest Dietrich, I had basic knowledge of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that he was a Christian pastor and had participated in a plot to have Adolph Hitler assassinated and that he was executed for his part in that conspiracy.  But other than that, I didn’t know the details. 

This book is wonderful.  I learned about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life, family and his beloved fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer.  How decent, God-fearing Germans citizens were impacted by what Hitler was doing.  While not everyone was able to personally fight the evil things they saw happening, so many citizens were gravely impacted by the maniacal and brutal dictator and were just trying to survive.  It was heartening to learn of the Bonhoeffer family, their friends and many others who sought, albeit unsuccessfully, to put an end to Hitler’s reign of evil.

In Dietrich and Maria’s story, I saw that love must be brave.  It was inspiring and touching to see how Maria sought to be there for Dietrich, breathe life and hope into their future, even if it meant risking her own life.  They managed to deepen and grow their relationship through letters and monthly one-hour visits at Tegel prison under the watchful eye of the guards.  Dietrich, in turn, sought to protect Maria and his family and accepted the severe consequences of his actions.

I took my time reading My Dearest Dietrich because I didn’t want to rush by and miss some of the treasures contained therein.  This is a beautiful love story between two very different, but uniquely suited, people during a pivotal time in history.  Amanda Barratt did a wonderful job in writing this true and fictionalized, account of Dietrich and Maria’s love story. 

I would like to thank Kregel Publications and NetGalley for a complimentary of the book and the opportunity to read My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt.  It’s a love story to remember.  I was no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin – Mixed feeling but worth hanging in for the themes of grace and forgiveness


I had never read Kelly Irvin’s books until about a year ago.  After reading one of her Amish themed books I loved how she developed the characters and how they grew and changed through the story.  That’s why I was eager to read Kelly’s newest book Mountains of Grace. 

Mountains of Grace is different from the other Amish themed books that Kelly Irvin has written.  This novel is set in NW Montana in a community called West Kootenai.  I never knew that there were Amish communities in Montana.  From Mountains of Grace I got the impression that this Amish community, though they lived separate and different lives than the English people, the community seemed to be more closely allied with their English neighbors. 

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that something changed and captured my interest. 

I struggled with the two main characters, Mercy, a 22-year-old single Amish school teacher, and Juliette Knowles, her English friend and neighbor.  The two young women couldn’t be any different from one another.  Mercy seemed quite immature especially in the scene when they were fleeing their homes because of a fast-approaching wildfire.  Mercy’s response and that of her younger siblings seemed childish and didn’t demonstrate that they comprehended the seriousness of the situation.  Juliette, on the other hand, seemed to be a vapid, shallow, mouthy gal who wanted attention and would flirt with any male who came nearby.  I didn’t like either Mercy or Juliette. 

It wasn’t until about halfway through this book I found someone I liked, Spencer, who was a smoke jumper that was injured at the beginning of the book.  It was his interaction with Mercy that made me pause.  Something about Spencer was honest and he took a liking to Mercy.  It was interesting how their very different characters interacted with one another.  

There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, family, friends, and neighbors of Mercy and Juliette.  I liked Tim, the man who was in love with Juliette.  Why he like her I didn’t understand because Juliette was such a pill.  I appreciated his integrity and his willingness to obey God’s command that he should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.  There some good examples of strong Christian faith.  I loved some of the prayers offered by different characters. 

I had a hard time imagining Mercy as a school teacher because of her immaturity and poor decisions that resulted in her being disciplined by the Amish elders.  While it wasn’t made known, I wondered who it was that told on Mercy.  What I did like about Mercy was her boldness and desire to befriend Spencer who was so different the Amish men she knew. 

I liked the themes of forgiveness that were lived out by several characters, like Angie, Spencer, Tim.  While it may not be easy, God does command us as believers to forgive those who have hurt and wronged us.

I never fully came to appreciate Juliette.  Her character was very off-putting.  I was glad that she finally disclosed what had happened to her and what caused her to turn from being a nice young lady to someone who was not so nice.  I appreciated that she was a good friend to Mercy and even tried to protect her. 

I’m glad I read this book to the end.  It contains some good examples of forgiveness and mercy and God’s abundant mercy towards us as sinners.  It also showed the importance of communicating with one another, even when it’s hard.  It was almost like there were two lines of stories with the Amish and the English characters and a lot going on with multiple characters. 

Would I recommend this Mountains of Grace, yes, especially if you are a Kelly Irvin fan or like Amish-themed novels.  It was interesting to learn about the men that put their lives on the line to help protect life and property and put out wildfires in treacherous terrain.   

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

While Waiting – Pray, Trust and Work



Today is day seven since we officially put our home up for sale. 

For a couple of years now, my husband Chris and I have been saying that we need to downsize and get a smaller one-story home.  Our home has served us well and we love friends, neighbors and the neighborhood, but it’s time to move.

In July, we contacted a realtor in our neighborhood.  For four and a half years, we’ve watched Lily’s work.  We’ve seen the difference in people’s homes who’ve gone with our realtor and those who have used other realtors.  When we had a question on remodeling decisions, she freely gave her advice on what buyers like.  When the time came to sell our home, we contacted Lily.

Over the last 6 weeks, Chris and I have been working to get our house ready to put on the market.  I can’t tell you the number of trips we’ve made to Good Will, or how much we’ve given away or thrown away or how many trips we’ve made to put things in storage to make sure our home is clutter-free.  We’ve had handymen in to take care of some odds and ends repairs.  We have thoroughly cleaned our home and worked in the garden.  We wanted to get our home ready, not only to sell but also prepare it for new owners.

Family and friends have assured us that our home will likely sell quickly and that is what we are praying and hoping for.

This last weekend, we had our first open house.  I had big expectations that we would get a lot of people coming to see the home and that perhaps we’d even have offers. 

We had five families that came to see our home.  They said it was clean and well maintained.  Some people thought the yard was too small and some raised concerns about living near power lines.  It didn’t seem like anyone was eager to buy our home.  We’ve had no realtors contact us to set up a viewing for their clients. 

Can I confess…I was disappointed!  Disappointed because I had the wrong perspective. 

Since then, the Lord has been reminding me daily that everything, including the sale of our home, is firmly and fully in His control.  Our home will sell when He brings the people that He wants to be the next owners and not before then.

If our home had sold on the first open house, I would have been attributing the success to our realtor.  Or being prideful and thinking that all our hard work had paid off. 

No matter what…whether it’s a quick sale or something that takes a while, the sale of our home will be the Lord’s work.

Each day…I go through a routine of getting our house ready just in case we get a call that somebody wants to see it.  I vacuum our house top to bottom.  Counters and bathrooms are cleaned, furniture, shutters, and blinds are dusted.  Once a week, I’m thoroughly cleaning each area or zone. 

While I’m cleaning, I’m praying for the family who will buy our home.  Perhaps they don’t even live in Texas yet but will be making a move here.  Maybe they are trying to sell their home and are waiting to look for a new home until it does.  I’m praying that they will be the right family for our neighbors and neighborhood.  If they have children that they will have an easy transition into new schools and make good friends.  That the husband and wife will agree on what they want in a home and for wisdom in making decisions and for their finances.  That perhaps the changes and improvements we’ve made to our home will be something that they will enjoy. 

All the efforts from our realtor and our hard work to get our house ready and keep it ready are good and necessary. 

During this time, we’ve looked at homes and have a better idea of what want to buy and where we want to live.  So, it’s not been a waste of time.  Perhaps the Lord’s timing is different than what we had hoped for because the right home for us is not on the market yet.

While I may not know why there is a delay in selling our home, I know that it’s perfectly in the Lord’s control, timing and plan.  On those days, when I get tired or have doubts…I have to remind myself to trust the Lord, know He is good and that He has a good and perfect plan that He is working out.  I can trust and depend on God while we are waiting. 


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Clear Confusion by Kathy M Howard – Book Review, Review Tour and Giveaway



Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour (and Giveaway!) for Clear Confusion by Kathy M. Howard, hosted by
JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Clear Confusion
Author:
Kathy M. Howard
Publisher: Ambassador International
Release Date:
July 1, 2019
Genre: Inspirational Suspense/Thriller

What am I going to do, God? Who am I?

Charlotte Hallaway needs to come to terms with her father's death. He had been her only family, and she wasn't handling her grief well. It was just supposed to be a few weeks of peace and quiet to process it all, but then she saw them-a drug deal and a murder within seconds of each other.

And they saw her.

Now running for her life, Charlotte boards a bus to escape her pursuers and wakes up the next morning in the woods of Jennings, Georgia, without a memory of how she got there or of who she is. All she knows is an underlying fear she can't seem to shake.

When two hunters find her battered and scared, can she put aside the clear confusion she's experiencing to trust them? She wants to trust them, especially Nicholas, but fear is holding her back. Trust is incredibly hard when one is so clearly confused. Could it be he and his friend are not who they claim to be?

Who are they really . . . and who is she?



Clear Confusion Excerpt

5:30 a.m.
The woman awoke to the sound of wind dancing rather loudly through the treetops and a strange sense of fear. Underneath her, a cool, hard ground gave off a scent of wet mud, causing her nostrils to crinkle.

Inside, her head pounded with her heartbeat. She squeezed her eyes shut, giving herself a minute. It didn’t do much good. Her mind was too fuzzy to successfully decipher her bearings. Somehow an internal fog blocked her ability to reason.

God, where am I?

Although she heard evidence of early morning hours, it was dark, practically pitch black. Nothing visible beyond a few feet, and even that was blurry. Another gust of wind blew, bringing a breeze across her left cheek. A few goose bumps appeared. The other side of her face, shielded from the gust, remained impressed in dried mud. Although it was hard, it felt icky pasted against her skin. She tried to gently pull herself out of the crusted grime but found the movement harder than she’d expected.

The muscles in her arms and legs were sore—really sore. But why? She sat up tenderly, placing a hand on her forehead. The effort to lift her body proved difficult. Carefully and ever so slowly, she stood the rest of the way. With one hand steadying her head and the other out­stretched, she inched her feet forward, searching for something sturdy.

Why do I have on only one shoe? Where is my other shoe?


  
My Review - Clear Confusion by Kathy M Howard – Gripping Suspense, Romance and Grounded in Faith



Clear Confusion is the first book I’ve read by Kathy M Howard and what a great introduction into this author’s work.  I loved this book! 

Just who is Charlotte and what in the world did she see that caused her to flee?  How did she end up in a tree in the forest, scratched, bruised and hurting?  Who are these men that awakened her?  Friends or foes?  Most of all why can’t she remember anything?  Not even who she is or where she came from?

From the get-go, the reader will be dropped into the middle of a suspenseful story that will grip you until the very end.  The truth about what happened to Charlotte will be unveiled as she has to trust and depend on Nicholas Nelson and his family as they provide a safe haven for her.

I love mysteries and suspense and this book is filled with both.  But it doesn’t stop there, the story and characters are well developed.  I loved that the Nelson family were kind, decent and caring people that come alongside Charlotte when she is vulnerable, hurting and doesn’t know who she is.  Romance is a part of the story and developed slowly as Nicholas is interested in Charlotte, but he doesn’t rush her, instead he gives her the time to heal and remember first.

What I appreciated most about Clear Confusion is that the Christian faith and the Gospel are woven throughout this story.  Though Charlotte didn’t know who she was, she knew that God and Jesus Christ were part of her life.  Even in her fear, she knew she should pray and read the Bible.  Faith is a big part the Nelson family’s life too. 

I appreciated that Kathy Howard didn’t have the characters make stupid decisions that put themselves in danger to advance the story or heighten the suspense.  Her characters were smart and reasonable.  I loved that the Gospel of Christ was clearly presented in this book and how faith was lived out by the characters in what they said and prayed and how they lived their lives. 

While I suspected who the bad guys were, there remained some mystery because, until the end, I didn’t know who two of the villains where and how they were connected to other characters. 

Clear Confusion by Kathy M Howard was a great story.  Interesting, filled with suspense and made just right by characters living out their Christian faith.  I give Clear Confusion a big thumbs up and look forward to reading more of author Kathy M Howard’s books in the future. 

I would like to thank Ambassador International and Just Read Tours for providing a complimentary copy of Clear Confusion.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.  The views expressed are solely my own.   




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathy M. Howard resides in south Georgia with her husband and two children. She has been involved in some form of education since 1998 as an elementary school teacher, a private school principal, and presently as a homeschooling mom. As a child, she despised reading, dreading every assignment the subject gave. As an adult, Kathy finally learned to appreciate the written word, so much so that she is rarely seen without her nose in a book.

She loves the Lord and wants to share Jesus where she can, using words written and spoken. By God's goodness and with the support and love of her family, she has written two novels, From Dishes to Snow (October, 2014), and its sequel, From Driftwood to Sapphire (August, 2015).

CONNECT WITH KATHY:  Website | FacebookTwitter


TOUR GIVEAWAY
(1) winner will receive a print copy (US only)
plus (1) additional winner will receive an ebook


Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 23, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 30, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Print US only. Ebook available internationally.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!


*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham – A Pleasant and Enjoyable Read


After reading the description of Yours Truly, Thomas I found myself intrigued at the storyline and setting of Rachel Fordham’s newest book.

Following the death of her father, Penny had taken a job to support herself and her mother.  For three years she has been working as a clerk at the Dead Letters Office in Washington DC.  It’s at work that she comes across romantic letters written by a man named Thomas to a woman named Clara Finley in Alexandria.  Penny takes it upon herself to try and get the letters to Clara, only to find out that she had died in a tragic accident.  That’s just the beginning and soon Penny finds herself on a train going to a place she’s never been, Azure Spring Iowa, to try and find the man who has touched her heart through his letters to another. 

I found the idea of a Dead Letters Office intriguing and how, over 135 years ago, they would have researched to try and find a recipient of an undeliverable letter.  I liked the character Penny, she was kind, thoughtful, caring and romantic.  She was also very brave, adventuresome and a bit naïve. 

In the story about Thomas, there was a bit of a forgiveness and redemption theme going on.  Thomas was a better man and he changed and grew through difficult circumstances and wrong choices he had made in the past.  In this story, you can see how friendships can impact others and make a difference for good, people like Dinah, Margaret and Abraham. 

The Christian faith is not an overt part of the story, but God, prayer, and providence are mentioned.  I think it would have been a richer story if faith had played a more prominent role.  The story is clean and free of sexual immorality and profanity. 

Yours Truly, Thomas was a pleasant and enjoyable read.  This is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Fordham and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future. 

I was provided with a complimentary copy of Yours Truly, Thomas by Revell Publishing and NetGalley.  I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. 


Thursday, July 04, 2019

Final Word – by John MacArthur – A Timely and Sobering Reminder on why we need the Bible


I respect John MacArthur as a pastor, teacher and authority on the Bible and that’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read his newest book Final Word – Why We Need the Bible. 

We are living in turbulent times, in our nation and in this world.  We are seeing the effects of postmodernism and the denial of absolute truth and right and wrong.  As a Christian, I would hope and pray that it wouldn’t impact the Christian church, but it has.  In recent weeks and months, there have been controversies over women preaching and the Southern Baptist Convention was dealing with issues of gender identity, sexuality, racism, and intersectionality.  These issues can be very divisive and difficult to respond to, especially if you don’t have the knowledge and confidence in the absolute authority of God’s Word the Bible.

John MacArthur’s book Final Word is very timely in helping Christians to understand the bedrock of our faith, the Bible.  John is very measured and precise in the issues he raises, the examples he gives as evidence and what the Bible says and how we, as believing Christians, should respond. 

John lays out the evidence to show how The Bible Is Under Attack both from the secular culture and even from within the church.  He reminds the reader that the ultimate attack is from Satan.  Not only does he show current examples but looks back over history.  As I was reading this book, I felt like I was reading headline news. 

From there, John goes on to show with unapologetic authority that, The Bible is True, The Bible is Authoritative, The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth, The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry, and The Bible is Food for the Soul. 

If you read Final Word, you will come away with a clear understanding of what’s happening in the world and within the church today and have a historical perspective as to how we got to where we are.  You will come away better equipped to understand and stand in defense of the Bible.  This book is refreshingly truthful and stands strong on the Word of God.

I highly recommend Final Word by John MacArthur.  This book is a keeper, you’ll want to read it again and will likely want to share it with other believers, those in the ministry. 

I would like to thank Reformation Trust Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Final Word in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Sunday, June 09, 2019

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton – Wonderful, lovely, I didn’t want the story to end!


Can I say that an author is one of my favorites after reading only one of her books, Hurricane Season?  Maybe not, but I was excited at the opportunity to read Lauren K. Denton’s newest book Glory Road. 

I absolutely loved this book!  Lauren has a way of writing and helping you to see the beauty in the everyday ordinary life.  From the people to the places and the beauty of creation. 

Glory Road takes place in Alabama and tells the story of Jessie who is a single mom, her 14-year-old daughter Evan and her Mom Gus.  Following her divorce, Jessie moved back home to Perry where she grew up.  Her home is next door to her Mother’s house and right next door to her garden shop the Twig on an old dirt road.  It’s summertime and Evan will be starting in high school come September.  Gus seems to be having some episodes of confusion and forgetfulness and Jessie is worried that it may be something serious.  Jessie is content with her life the way it is and she’s not looking to make changes or room for romance.  But sometimes God brings people and changes into our lives when we don’t feel ready. 

What did I love about Glory Road?  I loved the characters, especially Jessie and her relationship with her daughter Evan and Mom Gus and their love, kindness and caring for one another.  I loved the relationships between Jessie and Ben and Jessie and Sumner.  I loved the relationship between Evan and Nick who takes after his father Ben.  Lauren has a way of writing that is almost poetic or lyrical.  She captures the character’s thoughts and feelings in a thought-provoking way that caused me to reflect on my own life.  She also paints lovely word pictures of the places, indoors and outdoors, that helps the reader to imagine what it looks like.  She does that without being too wordy or letting words get in the way of the reader’s imagination.  I really enjoyed the quotes on gardening at the beginning of each chapter.  

On a more serious note, as someone whose parent had Alzheimer’s I appreciated the way Gus’ life and experiences were handled.  It helped me to see how scary it must be for the person experiencing forgetfulness and for the family who sees it and are unsure on how to handle it.  That part of the story rang a little too close to home.  

There’s only one mention of God in the book, other than two phrases that use the name of God.  Even though God, Christianity and faith were not specifically mentioned I had the feeling that faith undergirded the character’s lives.  I would like to have seen elements of faith as part of the storyline but greatly appreciated a clean novel.

I absolutely loved Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton.  It’s a wonderful, lovely book that leaves you wanting the story to continue on.  Lauren is on my short list of writers that when they write a new book, I want to be sure to read it. 

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity the read Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Saturday, June 01, 2019

Five Minute Friday – What’s in a Name?



I’m participating in this week’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  If you like to write or need some inspiration and encouragement be sure to check it out. 

Today word prompt:  Name

For the first 3 months of my life I didn’t have a name because I was given up for adoption at birth.  On my original birth certificate, it only recorded my birth mother’s last name.  Legal paperwork recorded my name as Baby Girl Dawson.

Three months later, my parents Frank and Gayle Bunts adopted me and I was given the name Susan Harriett Bunts.  From that day on, I was someone’s daughter and sister to my brothers Michael and Patrick. 

My first name was given by my brother Michael.  He had a girlfriend named Susan and later he had a cow that he named Suzy.  The name Susan means lily and is of Hebrew origins.  When I think of a lily, I think of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The name Harriett was the name of my father’s mother whom he loved greatly.  Harriett is French and means home ruler which is kind of appropriate because I love being home.  “There’s no place like home.”   

At the age of 49, I was given a new last name when I married Christopher Wachtel and I was welcomed into the Wachtel family.  I wish I had the opportunity to meet my in-law Leo and Ruth Wachtel.  I look forward to meeting them in heaven.  In the mean time I am blessed to know the rest of the Wachtel family. 

Even though I’ve lived with those names for many years, the name I value most is Christian.  At the age of 32, I finally recognized that I was a sinner and repented of my sin.  I recognized that there is a God to whom I will give an account and that He is the God of the Bible.  He made a way for me to be forgiven through His Son Jesus Christ and His sacrificial atoning death on the cross.  Christ’s death paid the penalty for my sin and for all who repent believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sin. 

God assures believers that He has called us by name.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
Isaiah 43:1 c-d

Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
Isaiah 43:7

Though I didn’t have a name for the first three months of my life, God knew me and He called me by name.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

Before God laid the foundations of the world, He knew and called me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 
Ephesians 1:3-6


28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30


Though I did not have a name for the first three months of my life, God knew me, He knew my name and He called me to salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Though I may have been considered an accident by my birth mother, God planned my life before He laid the foundations of the world. 

When I think about who I am, first and foremost I think of myself as a Christian and that truth overshadows everything else in my life. 


Thursday, May 30, 2019

On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher – A Great Read for Summer


After reading the description of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s newest book On a Summer Tide, I wanted to read it.  It seemed like just the right book to read for summer.

When father Paul Grayson calls his daughters Cam, Maddie, and Blaine together for a family meeting he throws them for a loop when he announces that he sold the family’s home and bought an island.  Not just any island, but the one where he met and fell in love with his wife Corinna while working at Camp Kicking Moose many years ago.  While his daughters try to figure out if he’s going through a mid-life crisis or has premature dementia, Paul tells them his plans to breathe new life into the camp and island with their help.

I absolutely loved reading On a Summer Tide.  There was an interesting mix of characters with the sisters, very different from one another, and each family member is still dealing with the tragic death of their mother several years before.  The girls are not close, but Paul and his wife had longed for a day when their daughters would enjoy one another and be a close-knit family. 

I could relate the Cam as the career driven woman that didn’t want anything to get in her way.  But her son, 7-year-old Cooper, made that a little difficult at times.  I struggled the most with Maddie because as a trained counselor, she acted she knew everything and was constantly diagnosing everyone in her path, but she didn’t seem to look within too much.  Blaine seemed a bit flaky, but it was neat seeing her come into her own as she discovered where her talents and passions lay.   

It was fun and interesting to get to know the island’s local people.  My favorite was Peg!  She had a lot of wisdom and treated people with honesty, kindness, and fairness.  Of course, I loved the school teacher Seth Walker.  Who wouldn’t have loved to have had someone like Seth as their teacher growing up?  He was kind and patient, not only with his students but also the Grayson girls and Cooper. 

Though their mother Corinna had died a few years before, her influence on her daughters and husband were profound and still impacting them today.  I loved how little bits of Corrina’s wisdom and sayings were shared by each of the family members.  There were profound thoughts from the characters and I underlined and starred a number things throughout the book.  I don’t think you can read On a Summer Tide without doing some self-reflection or thinking about your own family. 

Faith was part of the storyline, but not so much the Gospel of Christ.  But there is a beautiful redemption theme in the story. 

I loved reading On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  Not only did I like the characters, I learned from them.  The small island setting gave the novel a relaxed feel, so different than life in the big city.  Three Sister Island was a place I’d like to visit.  I’ve only read a few of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s novels, but I look forward to reading more of them.  I highly recommend On a Summer Tide for your summertime (or anytime) reading! 

I would like to thank Revell Books for the opportunity to read On a Summer Tide in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett – A Real Gem


I love finding books by authors whose work is new to me.  I found a real gem in Karen Barnett’s new book Ever Faithful, which is the third book in the Vintage National Parks Novel series. 

Reading Ever Faithful was like a breath of fresh air.  Obviously, the setting of the novel in Yellowstone National Park in the 1930s brings a whole different feel to the book.  The pace of the story is relaxed and enjoyable and I feel like the characters were unveiled slowly and over time the reader gets to know them.  I enjoyed the characters, even though there was a mystery and someone made bad choices, characters weren’t vilified.  Faith was a part of the storyline, especially forgiveness.

Karen does a great job in her descriptions of nature and the surroundings.  She does so without being too wordy and lets the readers imagine the beauty of the Yellowstone National Park.  It was interesting learning what the park was like 90 years ago and what it would have been like to work at the park.  I had never heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but it sounded like an excellent program to help young men during a very hard time in our Nation.  It was also a great way to introduce people from different walks of life and bring them together for the storyline and watch them grow and learn.  You can’t help but know all the research and time Karen must have put in to write this book and make the characters and setting come alive. 

I loved reading Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett.  I took my time reading the book because every time I opened the book, I felt like I was taking a break and going somewhere beautiful with people I enjoyed.  I could set aside the demands of the moment and get away to a different place and time.  After reading Ever Faithful, I want to go back and Karen’s other books and look forward to her future novels. 

I would like to thank NetGalley and WaterBrook Publishers for the opportunity to read Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Ever Faithful will be available on June 18, 2019.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin – Mixed Reaction


Over the Line is Kelly Irvin’s newest book in the romantic suspense genre.  I recently discovered Kelly’s writing when I read two of her recent Amish themed books and fell in love with her writing.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book. 

Over the Line is an action-packed novel that seems like it could have been taken from today’s headline news.  Chef and restaurateur, Gabriella Benoit is locking up her restaurant late at night and is met by a stranger who was carrying a gun and calling her name.  As he clutches his chest and falls to the ground he says “Jake” but dies before he can say anything more about Gabby’s brother.  She’d never imagined she’d need help from her former fiancé Eli Cavazos to find her missing brother or find herself in the middle of an illegal gun smuggling ring at the border.  How is she going to protect her sister and family from some very desperate and dangerous men?  Just who are the good guys and who are the bad ones?

I had a mixed reaction to Over the Line.  I appreciate that it’s clean and not filled with sexual immorality or filthy language.  There is some Christian faith included in the book and I thought it was better and more genuine towards the end of the book.  I liked Eli’s mother and her openness and transparency and how different characters dealt with the issue of forgiveness.  I especially liked the character Deacon, he was a nice surprise.  As you get to know him you can see he’s a decent sincere person and Natalie was very likeable too. 

But over-all, I feel like the action was center stage and eclipsed the characters.  Some of the prayers or mentions of God and faith seemed like they were out of place or just thrown in, instead of a natural overflow of the character’s thinking or feelings.  Some of the character’s actions didn’t make a lot of sense, like Deacon trespassing or Gabby confronting a police officer she suspected was corrupt because she was overcome with emotion instead of using reason and logic.  That didn’t make sense coming from a person who was a former district attorney.  The scene where Gabriella and Natalie crashed the van doesn’t seem realistic because the dialogue goes on and on when the bad guys are coming their way with big guns.  I wasn’t overly fond of the main character Gabriella. 

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking this must be the second book in a series because there was a lot of back-story between Gabriella and Eli and what had happened in Natalie’s life previously.  I was surprised to find out that this wasn’t the second book.  Some of the background information and questions I had were answered later in the book.

I would recommend Over the Line to someone who likes Kelly Irvin’s writing, with a note that it’s much different than her Amish themed books.  Also, for those who enjoy Christian suspense novels.  Over the Line will be available June 11, 2019. 

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Over the Line by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt – A beautiful and sorrowful love story during a pivotal time in history

When I first saw that there was an opportunity to read My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by author Amanda...