Book Review: “To Honor and Trust”

Add this book to your “to read” list if you love period romances set in the south. Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller’s “To Honor and Trust” was an easy, enjoyable read with interesting characters and a plot that you expect…and then one that you can’t see coming from a mile away.

Source: Bethany House

Governess Callie Deboyer accompanies the Bridgeport family to their winter home on Bridal Veil Island in 1913. Her family came from money, but now her parents are missionaries in Africa. Her winter is spent trying to figure out where her heart will lead her next…and I am sure she never expected a man like Wesley Townsend to step into her life. She believes he is the golf instructor, but there are a few secrets he has kept from her. The title is so fitting…is Callie really able to trust him?

While on Bridal Veil, Callie also meets Maude, the family’s newly hired nanny. She’s lived in Pittsburgh, but her stories of being a nanny for other families just never adds up right. In the end, there’s an interesting twist with Maude. Although I expected something fishy was up with her, Peterson and Miller wrote the story so well that I had no idea what Maude was really up to during her time on the island.

I could tell from the cover of the book that there would be a wedding and just had a hunch that Callie would make the life-changing decision regarding Africa that she does, but other than that, this book wasn’t as predictable as I thought. How two authors can put together a descriptive, flowing work amazes me…but Peterson and Miller did a great job with this one.

If I have you intrigued, you can go out to Bethany House to pick up your own copy (retails from $14.99, including an e-book version).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to read and review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Book Review: “When Hope Blossoms”

Recently I finished a very touching novel, “When Hope Blossoms” by Kim Vogel Sawyer. It is about 350 pages of good read and I was able to get through the entire book in one evening (that’s my way of telling it’s a really good read!).

“When Hope Blossoms” is the story of Amy, a young widow with three children who have just moved to Kansas to start a new life. Amy’s husband Gabe passed in a tragic accident, but the town gossip led people to believe horrible things. The family bought a farmhouse and moved with several other Mennonite families.

As luck would have it, they moved in next to a young widower, Tim, who happened to be an ex-Mennonite. While they did not push Tim to become part of their faith, a series of interesting events lead Tim to question his return (while at the same time Amy’s eldest daughter is questioning leaving the faith).

While Amy settles in and starts her quilting business, her children befriend Tim. They help him clean house and tend to his orchard. One day, tragedy strikes in the form of a tornado and Tim is forced to rebuild his barn and start fresh himself.

You’ll have to read ’til the end to hear the most intriguing twist to this story…but it will definitely touch your heart. Amy and Tim’s journey to friendship is heartwarming and full of laughs and tears.

From BethanyHouse.com

This Christmas, get your favorite reader this book (even if your favorite reader is you!). “When Hope Blossoms” is available from Bethany House in paperback or e-reader for $14.99.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House and was asked to write a review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Book Review: “A Perfect Word for Every Occasion”

This week, myself and some friends had heavy hearts for the loss of young lives, fathers, husbands, friends. It’s not easy to find the words to say in times like these, is it?

Liz Duckworth wrote A Perfect Word for Every Occasion, a great resource for words to say, regardless of the occasion. If you are into writing cards, calling friends, or interacting via social media, there are ideas in this book that will help with finding words to say.

For instance, if you are writing a birthday card and want something a bit deeper than “Happy Birthday”, Duckworth suggests that you can start with something like “No family is complete without someone like you!” and going from there. Looking for something to say when you need to make an apology? There are suggestions for that.

I appreciate the scriptures and quotes that Duckworth suggests, too. These are always nice additions (and as someone who makes cards, great for designs!). Also, I love that there are suggestions of what not to say in various situations. You don’t want to be sticking your foot in your mouth!

If you are interested in using this book to help you say the right words, you can find it on www.bethanyhouse.com (retail price is $12.99).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to read and review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Understanding World Religions #Review

Earlier today, I eluded to a little bit about our faith beliefs, so I thought it would be a good day to talk about a book I recently read. Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, a new Bethany House book, gives readers a brief look into world religions and is a good way for readers to learn about faiths of those around them.

We live in a diverse world, and sometimes it seems like every person you meet is of a different religion. Garry P. Morgan gives insight into these religions in Understanding World Religions. In 15 minutes (or less), you can pick a chapter and learn about beliefs and practices of over 20 religions.

This book stuck out to me because it discussed Greg’s family’s faith, Baha’i, a faith I hadn’t really known much about before we began dating. Morgan also covers Christianity (and the differences between Catholics and Protestants), Islam, Mormonism, and more.

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Here I was yesterday, sipping some coffee and reading about Baha’i Faith.

Personally, I liked the simple yet detailed way Morgan described religions. It gave me enough to understand where some people are coming from, but it also made me wonder about other points. I didn’t have to dig deeper into any religion unless I wanted to. Morgan’s goal was to be respectful and not opinionated, and I feel that he achieved that.

If you are interested in your own copy of this book, you can visit BethanyHouse.com (retails for $10.39) or an online book dealer. It’s a great refresher to world religion classes or a quick reference guide.

Relentless Pursuit #BookReview #Outsiders

As a pastor’s kid, I have experienced a lot of different things in my life. Mostly, we moved, and I never felt like I had a place to really fit in. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to add Relentless Pursuit: God’s Love of Outsiders Including the Outsider in All of Us to my summer reading list.

In this book, author Ken Gire looks at “the marginalized and the ostracized; the sinner and the loner, you, me … and Jesus”. He writes that everyone at one point in their lives is an outsider or has felt lonely using stories from the Bible, history, popular texts, and his own life as examples. Even though we have those feelings of being an outsider, there is always one who loves us.

At first, I had a hard time connecting with the book … I wanted to hear more stories letting me connect with outsiders. Soon enough, however, I got into the book and started to see how weaving historical figures (such as C.S. Lewis) had feelings of being outside, too.

Chapter 5 spoke of God’s passion for the outsider and began to look at biblical figures that I am more familiar with. Like Adam and Eve. In their pursuit to hide their nakedness, God didn’t expose them because He loves them.

He further discusses how people carry the weight of shame, and I know I’ve struggled carrying shame throughout my life, so I could identify with his words. Shame is what pushes people to the outside, leaving them alone. I’ve been there, and looking back, it was in those moments that God spoke loudest to me (perhaps more on that another day).

I learned that God provides for the outsider, and has a mission for the outsider. These things are hard to understand when feeling outside, but if you search, you will find the reasons why. God works in His time, and finds the outsiders “when they are shivering”. How powerful!

Perhaps you have felt like an outsider before, and feel called to check out this book, too. If so, you can find this book from Bethany House or on Amazon. I hope you connect with it like I did. There are great discussion questions at the end of each chapter that would serve as great journal starters (I know I’ll be doing some soul searching with these).

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Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by Bethany House. These opinions are 100% my own.

Travelers Rest

We all know how much I appreciate good Christian fiction, and there are bonus points if that fiction is set in the south. Lucky me, Ann Tatlock recently wrote a book called Travelers Rest (published by Bethany House Publishers).

The story is set in Asheville, North Carolina where Jane Morrow is holding vigil by her war veteran fiance’s hospital bedside. Seth Ballantine was injured in duty while serving in Iraq with the National Guard. His spinal injury has put a halt on their wedding, and in many ways, life. Jane struggles with understanding why Seth wouldn’t want to go on trying to continue toward their dreams, and along the way, she meets several people who help her go through the process of coming to grips with Seth’s paralysis.

Jon-Paul, a lawyer who plays the piano in the hospital lobby during his lunch hour, teams up with Seth to organize a chess tournament for the vets in the spinal cord unit. He and Jane develop a friendship over the piano as he plays Clair de Lune, a song that stirs up her past.

Truman, a retired doctor, shares chocolate milk with Jane when things get tough. He is there by her side when Seth turns for the worst, developing pneumonia. They have a connection that runs deeper than Seth, a story that began in the lynching era, a connection between the two that was closer than they could imagine.

This story had me laughing, crying, craving some southern summer time, and seeing the blessings throughout. If you need a good read, I highly recommend you grab Travelers Rest (and a box of tissues) and enjoy this one.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and was asked to share a review with my readers. All opinions are 100% my own.

Confronting Jezebel: A #Review

Growing up as a preacher’s kid, I am sad to admit the Jezebel spirit is not something I am unfamiliar with. In Steve Simpson’s new revision of “Confronting Jezebel” (from Bethany House Publishers, I got a chance to read up on how to discern this spirit and defeat it.

If you don’t know, Queen Jezebel was a wicked queen who was a spiritual threat to leaders in Bible times. Those with a Jezebel spirit seek out the weak to stand by them, controlling them by projecting power.

Interestingly enough, I feel like I haven’t had a chance to protect myself from Jezebel spirits, so the book delivered at a good time in my spiritual journey. I learned that I’ve never forgiven these women who “ruined” some of our experiences in churches, and that they keep winning while I keep disliking them. Others in my life that have Jezebel traits/qualities can be dealt with. Sampson gives some tips on how to deal with a Jezebel spirit throughout the book, all while providing examples of real life (present day) Jezebels.

Chapter 5 described forty characteristics of a Jezebel. While reading these, I was able to connect the characteristics with people that I struggle with. Some of the strongest ones were:

* Practices One-Upmanship
* Spirtiualizes Everything
* Knows it All
* Demands Forgiveness but Does Not Forgive
* Loves to Win

Sure, I admit that I struggle with some of the Jezebel characteristics myself, but I pray that I can let those go, give my opportunities to God.What I liked most about this book is that each chapter would end with questions and a prayer. It helped put the readings into perspective and strength my spirit.

I’d share my copy, but it’s dog-eared and highlighted throughout, so if you are interested, head over to Bethany House and get your own!

This post is brought to you by Baker Publishing Group. I was provided the book to review, and all opinions are my own.

The Fiddler #Review

Growing up, I was always a fan of reading “hand me down” books from my grandmother. I remember being introduced to Beverly Lewis‘ books and falling in love with her style and stories. Lewis’ books are set in Amish Country of Pennsylvania and always have a message threaded within.

The Fiddler, Lewis’ latest book, one in the “Home to Hickory Hollow” series, is no different. The main characters are young adults who are at a cross-roads in their lives, making some difficult choices about what direction to take. One is an Amish man, deciding if the Church is right for him. The other is a concert violinist who is also (secretly) a fiddler. By chance, they meet in a rainstorm and discuss their lives and decisions at hand as if they were old friends.


Photo from Bethany House

This chance encounter takes them down a path of exploration of what is best–to do what their families believe is best or to follow their hearts. Michael takes Amelia back to his hometown, where she is able to reflect on her choices ahead (go on a tour as a concert violinist or do what makes her heart happy–fiddle and teach the love of music). There, Michael is also able to come face-to-face with some tough decisions about his loyalty to the Church and community, as well as his family.

Although the two struggle with their choices, they were able to come together and help out one of Michael’s nieces, a young Amish woman who went “into the world” and fell into a series of bad decisions. Personally, I was touched by their care for her and words of courage. Sometimes it’s easier to see the light in others’ situations when you can’t see the way in your own.

Throughout the story, I was reminded of the choices I made as a young woman. While not all are what others would have wanted for me, I took chances with my heart, and it lead me to the ‘lil family I have today. Stories that allow for me to make a connection are the kind I enjoy best, which is probably why I love reading Lewis’ work.

You can bet that I’ll be waiting for September when the next book in the series, The Bridesmaid, comes out. I have an idea who this is about, but I dare not spoil your reading of the book! 🙂

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Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of “The Fiddler” to review from Bethany House, but my opinions are 100% my own. You can order your own copy through them or any local booksellers.