Tag: Christian

Book Review: Awaken My Heart, by Emily Wilson Hussem

Image belongs to Ave Maria Press.

Title: Awaken My Heart
Author: Emily Wilson Hussem
Genre: Devotional
Rating: 5 out of 5

Do you feel as if you are running on empty? Have you fallen asleep to the glory of God and his love being revealed to you each day?

Bestselling and award-winning author and popular YouTuber Emily Wilson Hussem has been there too. She invites you on a year-long transformational journey of practicing gratitude, becoming more closely aware of God’s presence in your every day and serving others in his name. These fifty-two reflections will help you cultivate a deeper prayer life, find freedom from the frenzy of tasks and the noise of the culture, and discover the lasting joy that can only blossom in a heart awakened to the beauty of God’s quiet, loving presence.

Awaken My Heart is an invitation to become aware of the presence of God in your life. Emily Wilson Hussem provides a roadmap for replacing busyness and distraction with intentional moments of noticing God’s abiding love and practicing gratitude for his many gifts—big and little blessings such as a visit from a friend, a call from your sister, the laughter of your children, a setting sun, or crumbs on the floor. These fleeting moments and everyday happenings can seem insignificant, but when you behold them with intention and thank God for making them possible, you’ll find yourself in regular conversation with Jesus, the lifeblood of your deep connection with God.

This fifty-two-week devotional blends spiritual insights, authentic vulnerability, and wise guidance for women of every age who want to have a heart fully awakened to God’s presence and the beautiful bouquet of blessings he’s put in your life. The reflection for each week includes a specific focus for the upcoming seven days. With stories, challenges, and insights into scripture, each reflection is designed to draw you deeper into awareness of Christ’s love and the love he is calling you to share with the world. Wilson Hussem also offers practical ways to choose to love—visiting the elderly, calling your mom, or pausing to pray for a special intention—that are simple enough for even the busiest lifestyle.

This is an excellent devotional! The illustrations the author uses are relatable and actionable. She’s not preaching, she’s just talking to you and telling you about things she’s experienced. There’s a reflection for the week, a soul exercise, and a prayer. This book invites you to deepen your relationship with Jesus while exploring what’s truly in your heart.

Emily Wilson Hussem lives in California. Awaken My Heart is her newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Ave Maria Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Blog Tour and Book Review: Delayed Justice, by Shirlee McCoy

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title: Delayed Justice
Author: Shirlee McCoy
Genre: Romance, Christian
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Detective Bradley McGregor and his K-9 partner, King, come to the rescue when journalist Sasha Eastman’s targeted by a shooter who looks just like her mother’s murderer. But that killer supposedly died years ago in a shootout with the police. Now it’s up to Bradley and King to protect Sasha…but how can they stop a killer who’s already dead?

I enjoyed this much more than the last True Blue K-9 Unit: Brooklyn book I read. Solid writing, believable characters, and it wasn’t insta-love thankfully. Faith was worked naturally into the story and felt right for the characters, instead of being like checking off a box.

Of course, the dog is a big part of the story, and I always enjoy reading about these working dogs. They’re so smart! Sasha has been through some stuff, and she does make some bad decisions in this book, but she’s tough and smart, so it works out. Bradley is also a great character, and I enjoyed reading his point-of-view. This is a sweet, quick read with a hint of danger.

Shirlee McCoy is a bestselling author. Delayed Justice is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers

Image belongs to the publisher.

Title: A Voice in the Wind
Author: Francine Rivers    
Genre: Fiction, Christian, historical
Rating: 5 out of 5

Following the prides and passions of a group of Jews, Romans and Barbarians living at the time of the siege, the narrative is centered on an ill-fated romance between a steadfast slave girl, Hadassah, and Marcus, the brother of her owner and a handsome aristocrat. After surviving the massacre of her family and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Hadassah is captured and sold to a well-to-do merchant’s family.

Brought to Rome, she is pressed into service as a personal slave to hedonistic Julia Valerian. Hadassah struggles to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to treat her masters in a manner in keeping with His teachings, but she is forced to keep her religious identity a secret in order to survive. Confused and alone, she has only her faith to cling to as she tries to subtly bring God into the lives of her captors. Reckless, impulsive, and villainous, Julia tries to undermine Hadassah at every turn. But Julia’s brother, Marcus, is a different sort altogether. Is it possible for a love between Hadassah and Marcus to flourish considering not only their differing stations in life, but also the gap between Hadassah’s unrelenting faith and Marcus’ lack of belief in anything?

Simultaneously, Atretes, a captured soldier from Germania, is forced to become a gladiator. This is the time of Rome’s decline and the decadence of a civilization on the verge of self-destruction serves as a powerful backdrop to the Barbarian’s struggle for survival in the arena.

I think I read the Mark of the Lion books years ago, but as I don’t really remember them, it was like reading this again for the first time. I enjoy historical-fiction, and I’m always on the lookout for well-done Christian fiction. This book is both.

Hadassah is such an inspiration. She considers herself a coward for most of the book, but her strength is astonishing, as is her ability to selflessly serve the Valerian family no matter what. Julia is a horrible person and I didn’t like her—or her manipulative friend—at all. She treats people horribly and then is astonished when they retaliate or walk away from her, and people like that drive me nuts. Marcus was also a frustrating character to read, but he has faint glimmers of redeeming qualities.

I highly recommend this—and I look forward to re-reading the rest of the series!

Francine Rivers is a bestselling and award-winning author.

Blog Tour: The Amish Newcomer, by Patrice Lewis

Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

Title: The Amish Newcomer
Author: Patrice Lewis    
Genre: Romance, Christian
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Can a modern city girl ever become one of the Plain People?

She needed a safe place to hide. Instead, she found a place to call home.

Television journalist Leah Porte never imagined her career would end with her witnessing a murder. Now she’s temporarily living among the Amish in witness protection. Instead of feeling alone and adrift, Leah is warmly welcomed by the close-knit community—and Amish bachelor Isaac Sommer. But caught between two very different worlds, choosing love would mean leaving her big city life behind forever.

This was a sweet, uplifting read. The difference between Leah’s previous life and her life with the Amish made for an interesting premise, one I cannot imagine going through. Solid writing here and a lovely community made this a wonderful comfort read.

Patrice Lewis lives in North Idaho. The Amish Newcomer is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Love Inspired in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Upset the World, by Tim Ross

upset the world
Image belongs to Gateway Press.

Title: Upset the World
Author: Tim Ross
Genre: Nonfiction, Christian
Rating:5 out of 5

Following Jesus is not a safe course of action, it can upset your life and others. How does He do that? Through random acts of kindness, unexpected encounters, or a friendly stranger. Upsetting people can break down barriers and build relationships.

Pastor Ross teaches you how to:
Create a new ordinary of relating to others
Practice listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice
Learn how to do everyday evangelism
Love everybody (even people who disagree with you)
Change the way people think about Christianity

Upset the world with the message of hope and the love of Jesus Christ.

From the very first time I heard Pastor Tim speak—when he was still on staff at Gateway Church—I’ve loved his dynamic way of speaking. His presence is vivid and dramatic, and he dares to say what you’re thinking out loud.

This book is filled with stories and anecdotes of his experiences and he doesn’t urge his readers to take big leaps of faith—just the next small step forward in their everyday lives. His tone is conversational and relatable, and his love for Jesus and people shines through on every page.

Tim Ross is the pastor of Embassy City Church.

Book Review and Blog Tour: Her Amish Suitor’s Secret, by Carrie Lighte

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her amish suitor's secret
Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

Title:  Her Amish Suitor’s Secret
AuthorCarrie Lighte
Genre:  Romance, Christian
Rating:  4.0 out of 5

Sometimes the truth comes at a cost. Can she forgive him when she learns his true identity? Posing as an Amish groundskeeper at Rose Allgyer’s lakeside cabin retreat, Englischer Caleb Miller is determined to clear his brother’s name of theft. But as he’s drawn to Rose’s good nature, the burden of his ruse gets heavier—especially after learning Rose was deceived by her ex-fiancé. Still guarded, will Rose trust Caleb with her heart when she discovers he isn’t who he claims to be?

I do love reading Amish fiction, and this was one I enjoyed a lot. It was interesting watching Caleb try to fit into the Amish community, mistakes and all. I was far more intrigued by the development of Caleb and Rose’s storyline than the mystery of the stolen coins, but there were also several other side intrigues to keep my attention as well. This was a sweet, uncomplicated read, perfect for a stressful day.

Carrie Lighte enjoys traveling to Amish communities across the United States and she hopes to visit a few in Canada soon, too. When she isn’t writing, reading or researching, she likes to hike, kayak and spend time at the beach.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Love Inspired in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Carolina Breeze, by Denise Hunter

carolina breeze
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Carolina Breeze
AuthorDenise Hunter
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

Rising Hollywood star Mia Emerson is looking for a safe place to land in the wake of a public breakup and scandal, and she finds it in the lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina–the location of her canceled honeymoon. She wants nothing more than to hide and wait for the tabloids to die down.

Soon after her arrival at the Bluebell Inn, Mia meets Levi Bennett, who runs the inn along with his two younger sisters. Drawn to one another from the start, Mia trusts Levi to keep her location from the press, and Levi confides in Mia about the financial state of the inn–a secret he’s been keeping from his sisters.

When Mia and Levi discover an old journal that hints at a rare diamond necklace hidden in the inn, they set off on a treasure hunt to find the long-lost heirloom. What they don’t expect to surface are feelings they thought were safely locked away. Mia and Levi must decide if falling in love again is too big a risk–or if it will uncover a treasure of its own instead.

This is another wonderful read in the Bluebell Inn Romance series! I really like the setting, and the characters are so well-done I just want to hang out with them and chat. Poor Mia has been dealt a pretty raw hand, but she handles it with grace and aplomb, despite her frustrations. She demonstrates the good side of Hollywood.

Levi is kind of overbearing towards his sisters, but he’s able to learn from his mistakes and grow from them. It’s nice to see his self-awareness, as he and Mia learn to trust as they expand their horizons. This is a sweet and easy read.

Denise Hunter is a bestselling author. Carolina Breeze is her newest novel, the second Bluebell Inn Romance.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Her Hidden Hope, by Jill Lynn

her hidden hope
Harlequin/Love Inspired.

Title:  Her Hidden Hope
AuthorJill Lynn
Genre:  Romance, Christian
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Asking for forgiveness is the hardest part. She once trusted him with her heart…but will she ever trust him with the truth?

With only two weeks to renovate her family’s Colorado B and B, struggling single mom Addie Ricci can’t turn away help. Especially not when it’s her handsome high school sweetheart, Evan Hawke, who’s offering to pitch in. As they repair the B and B, Addie and Evan also begin rebuilding their relationship…until a secret from their past threatens to bring it all crashing down.

I enjoyed this so much! Addie and Evan are struggling with so much pain and hurt from their past, but they learn to trust each other again and move past the mistakes and secrets they’ve hidden for so long. I love inspirational romances, but sometimes the faith feels like it’s shoehorned in. That’s not the case here. The faith aspect feels like a natural part of these characters, and it’s wonderful to see Addie learn and grow as she and Evan get to know each other all over again.

Jill Lynn is an ACFW Carol Award-winning author and has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Her Hidden Hope is her newest novel,

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Love Inspired in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody, by James Hilt

how to have a better relationship with anybody
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody
Author:  James Hilt
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

You can have a better relationship with anybody—God, your children, your spouse, or friends. The answers for how to do so are found in Scripture. Counselor James P. Hilt has helped hundreds of people who wanted healthier, happier relationships with his principles derived from the insights of Scripture. He will help you:

Identify and get rid of problems that separate you from others
Stop feeling bitter and resentful
Listen more effectively
Become more patient
Celebrate others more readily
Feel more satisfied in your relationships

Study what the Bible has to say about relationships, apply these healing truths to your life, and discover the remarkable difference it can make. Christ’s love can flow unhindered through your life. Don’t put up with disconnection and resentment any longer.

This was an insightful read that offered both insight and tips that were feasible and doable (Not far-fetched and almost laughable tips for those of us just trying to live our lives and keep all the balls in the air.). The voice was relatable, like talking to a friend, not preachy or condescending, and it incorporated biblical principle and scripture into anecdotes from the author, making it feel even more like sitting down for a chat with a friend that has a little more experience than you.

James Hilt is an author and a counselor. How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody is his newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Becoming Sage, by Michelle Van Loon

becoming sage
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:  Becoming Sage
AuthorMichelle Van Loon
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 

For the last several decades, Western churches have focused the bulk of their resources on the early stages of discipleship—children’s Sunday school, youth group, college ministry. These are all important, but we’ve neglected spiritual growth in the second half of life. In fact, an outside observer might think that after the growth of the college years, the goal is simply to coast through the rest of your Christian life. The book explores what the unique challenges of midlife can teach us about Jesus and how to think about everything from church, friends, and family, to money, bodies, and meaning.

I found Becoming Sage to be a thought-provoking and intriguing read, and it addresses a topic that seems prevalent in many churches:  the focus on family and children that seems to occupy a prominent place in church life. But what about after the children have left home? What then?

Becoming Sage explores the topic in depth, without castigating the church, which I found refreshing and hopeful

Michelle Van loon blogs, writes, and speaks about spiritual life formation. Becoming Sage is her newest book.

(Galley courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)