Tag: faith

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

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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.)