Tag: faith

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

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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.

Book Review and Blog Tour: Child on His Doorstep, by Lee Tobin McClain

child on his doorstep
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title: Child on His Doorstep
Author:  Lee Tobin McClain   
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

An unexpected delivery and fresh start. He needed only a nanny…but in her he’s found so much more. Suddenly a father after his little brother is abandoned on his doorstep, Corbin Beck has no idea how to care for a toddler. Thankfully, former hometown party girl Samantha Alcorn is making a fresh start as a live-in nanny. As Corbin bonds with little Mikey—and sparks fly with Samantha—they begin to feel like a family. But Samantha’s secret could change everything…

I felt like the feelings between Corbin and Samantha developed basically out of nowhere, although Corbin did have a crush on her back in high school. However, he just moves her into his house now with no hesitations or questions or anything, so that struck me as odd. And who would seriously think dropping off a kid on someone’s doorstep and tricking your way into taking care of said child was a good idea? Really?

Apart from the logic leaps that seemed to me to be lacking in logic, I enjoyed the story, more or less. Solid writing and interesting characters. I loved that all Corbin and Samantha’s friends were Christians, and how supportive the town was, it was the characters’ actions that I struggled with making sense of.

Lee Tobin McClain is a bestselling author. Child on His Doorstep is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Life on Mission @ Work, by Tyler Edwards

life on mission @ work
Image belongs to the author.

Title:    Life on Mission @ Work
AuthorTyler Edwards  
Genre:    Nonfiction
Rating:    5 out of 5

Many of us spend a large portion of our waking hours at work. For some, it’s hard to find time for anything else. How do we follow Jesus AND deal with the demands of our job? What if we stopped viewing our work as an obstacle and started seeing it as an opportunity? Could our relationship with Jesus change the way we view, value, and behave at work? Life on Mission at Work is focused on practical ways we can turn our work into our mission field, where our occupation becomes our opportunity to glorify God and share His love and grace with others.

This book came at a very good time for me, as my definition of work has changed in the past four and a half months. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work from home, but at first it was a struggle. Most of us spend a lot of time at work, but we don’t treat it as a mission.

Life on Mission @ Work gives easy, practical tips on how to change that. It’s broken down into easily-digestible pieces that are the perfect amount to mull over and implement into your day-to-day life—without fear of getting overwhelmed by “too much.” The straightforward, conversational tone makes this a joy to read, and I highly recommend it!

Tyler Edwards loves stories and Jesus. He is the author of Life on Mission @ Work.

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

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: My Name is Tani…and I Believe in Miracles, by Tani Adewumi

my name is Tani
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  My name is Tani…and I Believe in Miracles
Author:  Tani Adewumi
Genre:  Nonfiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Tani Adewumi didn’t know what Boko Haram was or why they had threatened his family. All he knew was that when his parents told the family was going to America, Tani thought it was the start of a great adventure rather than an escape. In truth, his family’s journey to the United States was nothing short of miraculous—and the miracles were just beginning. 

Tani’s father, Kayode, became a dishwasher and Uber driver while Tani’s mother, Oluwatoyin, cleaned buildings, while the family lived in a homeless shelter. Eight-year-old Tani jumped into his new life with courage and perseverance—and an unusual mind for chess. After joining the chess club in his public school, Tani practiced his game for hours in the evenings at the shelter. Then he began competing in the ultra-exclusive chess clubs of New York City. And winning—again and again. And then, less than a year after he learned to play, Tani won the New York State chess championship.

I enjoyed this story a lot—from the terror in Nigeria to finding hope in New York. I’ve never learned how to play chess, and the idea of an eight-year-old being so good at it is mind-boggling to me. What I found even more inspiring, though, was the family’s faith and positive outlook, no matter how desperate their circumstances. Truly an inspiring read!

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma, by Patricia Davids

the amish teacher's dilemma
Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

Title:  The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma
AuthorPatricia Davids
Genre:  Inspirational fiction, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Taking a schoolteacher position in another district is just the change Amish spinster Eva Coblentz needs. And with her new neighbor, blacksmith Willis Gingrich, struggling to raise his three orphaned siblings, Eva is determined to help them heal. But when her relatives insist she come home, Eva must choose between the life she left…and the one she’s growing to love.

I haven’t read the first two novels in The North Country Amish series, and that wasn’t a problem at all. I liked Eva from the first paragraph and admired her strength and determination to make a life for herself. Willis’s little sister, Maddie, and her imaginary friend, Bubble, were wonderful, and I enjoyed every scene the little girl was in. She definitely has a way of saying things that should not be said! I felt very sorry for Willis, who has struggled with dyslexia his whole life—and never knew it—and only realizes there’s hope for him when his youngest brother faces the same struggle. This is a lovely, feel-good read that’s both inspiring and uplifting.

Patricia Davids is a bestselling author. The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma, the third novel in her The North Country Amish series, is now available.

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