Tag: faith

Book Review:  Love and the Dream Come True, by Tammy L. Gray

Image belongs to Bethany House.

TitleLove and the Dream Come True
Author: Tammy L. Gray
Genre:   Christian, romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When Cameron Lee’s music career takes a nose dive, he reluctantly returns home, where he falls fast for single mom Lexie Walters. But fantasies only last so long, and soon they have to face the real world, one fraught with heartbreak and disappointment and questions that can only be answered on your knees.

This was such a sweet read! I can’t relate too much to Lexie and her always-positive attitude—as well as her being so forgetful and always running late—but I really enjoyed her story arc with Cameron:  ending up with your childhood crush/rockstar is a pretty sweet fantasy come to life. Cameron’s struggle with forgiveness was hard to read, but I loved how that worked out. This was just a solid romance read, with faith woven seamlessly into the characters’ lives.

Tammy L. Gray lives in Texas. Love and the Dream Come True is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Her Darkest Secret, by Jessica R. Patch

Image belongs to Harlequin.

TitleHer Darkest Secret    
Author: Jessica R. Patch  
Genre:   Mystery, Christian
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly’s blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister’s body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he’s back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona.

Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that’s fueled Fiona’s career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows.

I enjoyed this so much! I never did figure out who the killer was—which rarely happens—and each new twist kept me on the edge of my seat. The team dynamics were very well done, and I’d love to read more about these characters, especially Fiona and Asa. I’ve read a few less than stellar Christian romantic suspense novels, but never a thriller like this, and I loved how the faith was integrated seamlessly into the storyline. I highly recommend this read!

Jessica R. Patch is a bestselling author. Her Darkest Secret is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Three Sisters, by Heather Morris

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Three Sisters
Author:   Heather Morris
Genre:   Historical fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When they are girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father – that they will stay together, no matter what.

 Years later, at just 15 years old, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Cibi, only 19 herself, remembers their promise and follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her.

 In their hometown in Slovakia, 17-year-old Magda hides, desperate to evade the barbaric Nazi forces. But it is not long before she is captured and condemned to Auschwitz.

 In the horror of the death camp, these three beautiful sisters are reunited. Though traumatised by their experiences, they are together. 

They make another promise: that they will live. Their fight for survival takes them from the hell of Auschwitz, to a death march across war-torn Europe and eventually home to Slovakia, now under iron Communist rule. Determined to begin again, they embark on a voyage of renewal, to the new Jewish homeland, Israel.

This was an incredible read! I haven’t read any of the other books, but that isn’t necessary to enjoy this one. This story. It’s so unbelievable—and it’s true! The strength of these sisters is amazing and inspiring, and I was completely enthralled with what was happening to them. This is a powerful, moving story that showcases strength and determination, love and family.

Heather Morris is from New Zealand. Three Sisters is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Widows of Champagne, by Renee Ryan

Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

Champagne, 1939

Gabrielle Leblanc Dupree is taking her family’s future into her hands. While she should be preparing for a lavish party to celebrate two centuries of champagne making, she secretly hides Chateau Fouché-Leblanc’s most precious vintages behind a fake wall in the cellar in preparation for the looming war. But when she joins the resistance, the coveted champagne isn’t the most dangerous secret her cellar must conceal…

A former Parisian socialite, Gabrielle’s mother, Hélène, lost her husband to another war. Now her home has been requisitioned by the Germans, who pillage vineyards to satisfy the Third Reich’s thirst for the finest champagne. There’s even more at stake than Hélène dares admit. She has kept her heritage a secret…and no one is safe in Nazi-occupied France.

Josephine, the family matriarch, watches as her beloved vineyard faces its most difficult harvest yet. As her daughter-in-law and granddaughters contend with the enemies and unexpected allies in their midst, Josephine’s deep faith leads to her own path of resistance.

Across years and continents, the Leblanc women will draw on their courage and wits, determined against all odds to preserve their lives, their freedom and their legacy…

This was an incredible read! It wasn’t in the least what I expected, but it was so good. I will say that Hélène wasn’t my favorite character, but it was due more to her reserved and secretive personality than anything, as she was incredibly determined to protect her family. I didn’t care for the youngest daughter at all, but Gabrielle was a great character and I enjoyed her journey so, so much!

Renee Ryan grew up in Florida. The Widows of Champagne is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Rising Danger, by Jerusha Agen

Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

TitleRising Danger
AuthorJerusha Agen
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Someone’s planting explosives on dams in the Twin Cities, and Bristol Bachmann and her bomb-sniffing dog must move quickly to find them before everything ends up underwater. That means relying on the dams’ supervisor—an ex-boyfriend Bristol never thought she’d see again. Hopefully Remington Jones has grown up from the rakish charmer she knew in her academy days. Because lives now depend entirely on them…

It’s an environmental terrorist who wants the dams gone, and his bid to set the waters free has lethal consequences. When he sees Bristol and her K-9 working to stop him, he sets his sights on them. Can they evade him in a lethal game of cat and mouse and protect the cities from devastating destruction before the clock runs out?

This is definitely a story of redemption and hope. Bristol and Remington were different people when they knew each other before, so there are some surprises as they get to know each other all over again. The dogs, or course, are my favorite part. I’m fascinated by working dogs like this, and I enjoyed this read.

Jerusha Agen has a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting. Rising Danger is her newest novel.

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

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.

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.)