Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Delilah" Book Review

27066703

Delilah:  Treacherous Beauty Book Review

Dangerous Beauty #3

by Angela Elwell Hunt


Book Description:
A Complex and Compelling Glimpse at One of the Bible's Baddest Girls 

Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone. When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her. She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself. 
When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory. By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence. After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart. No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.

MY REVIEW:   Delilah is often used as an example of the sort of woman one does not want to model their own life after....the Bible has little to tell us of her background or details about her life before she became involved with Samson, the one whom God had instructed should never have a razor put to his hair.  This story is of course fictional and supposes what led an innocent baby named Delilah to become one of the Bible's baddest of the bad girls.  We know from historical facts that it was not easy being a woman in a man's world in Biblical times.  
       I did of course read the story of Samson and Delilah from the scriptures in the Bible and what I glean from God's Word is that he intended for Samson to do exactly what he did when he destroyed the entire company of Philistines along with the rulers, giving up his own life as he killed more people with his death than he had in his entire lifetime.  God used a weak man, one who loved beautiful women and ultimately lost his eyes and his strength due to one of these women, the beautiful Delilah.  He used a woman we truly know little about for his purposes, but we can imagine what her life was like and it has been very captivating to follow Ms. Hunt's version of the possibilities contained within Delilah's life.  Her secrets have been given wings with the words of this book.  I also must say that the cover of this book is stunning in its beauty.
      I rate this book 4 stars as I did have to keep referring back to the title of each chapter to remind myself whether this was Delilah or Samson's "voice".  This did slow my reading down a bit but did not take away from my desire to keep reading ahead.  While this book is the third in a series, it is a stand-alone as well since each of the books features a different "dangerous beauty" of the Bible.
      I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publishers and I was not required to write a review, although it was encouraged.  The words here are my own and all opinions expressed belong solely to me.

About the Author:


Angela Hunt

     Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly five million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.

Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her youth-pastor husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards--one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City. Afterward, the dog gave out paw-tographs at the airport.

When she's not home writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers' conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course. 

Readers may visit her web site at www.angelahuntbooks.com.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

"Dark Deception" book review

32510786

DARK DECEPTION Book Review

by Nancy Mehl 

New Edge-of-Your-Seat Read from an Established Romantic Suspense Author Kate O'Brien has been leading a quiet life in small-town Shelter Cove, Arkansas, for the past four years when her past suddenly comes roaring back to life. Four years ago, she and her twin sister were attacked by an elusive serial killer. Only Kate survived, and it was her drawing of the attacker--along with some last-minute evidence--that convicted the suspect.
She's been in witness protection ever since, but new evidence suggests the convicted man isn't the murderer and she's been subpoenaed to testify in the new trial. Nervous about the risk, she'll only agree if the same marshal who protected her during the original trial escorts her to St. Louis.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Tony DeLuca accepts the assignment to bring Kate to the trial, remembering how her strength impressed him. While in Shelter Cove, however, he gets a call from his chief, advising them to stay in Shelter Cove until a new development in the case can be straightened out. But when Kate's safety is threatened, Tony must race against the clock to keep her alive and put this ugly case to rest before anyone else gets killed.
 

MY REVIEW:  Nail biting suspense...murder....intrigue....romance....faith expressed by characters.....if you like all these elements, you will love Nancy Mehl's 2nd book in her Defenders of Justice series.   Kate is in witness protection after testifying against the man believed to have killed her twin sister.  He is sent to prison, and she fears for her life if he ever finds her....and then he is released from prison.  Will he come after her?  He would have to locate her first in the small town where she is hiding.  When evidence comes to light suggesting he is not the killer, Kate must testify again.  She is frightened and rightly so.   
      Nancy is one of my favorite authors and she did not disappoint me  in this book.  I did read book one in the series, and while this book can stand-alone, I think it would be helpful to read book one first.  I had a lot of trouble keeping the characters straight as there were so many different characters.  This did cause some confusion for me as I read.  
I highly recommend this book.   Readers who love suspense, thrillers and Christian fiction will be delighted.

      I am rating this book 4 stars.  I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.   All opinions expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nancy Mehl

Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She's authored fifteen books and is currently at work on a new romantic suspense series for Bethany House Publishing. 

All of Nancy's novels have an added touch - something for your spirit as well as your soul. "I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing," Nancy says. "It's a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn't be writing at all if I didn't believe that this is what He's called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can't overcome with His help." 

You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at: www.nancymehl.com or find her newsletter at: www.nancymehl.blogspot.com. She also is active on the Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com and on FaceBook!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"Prince Charles" Book Review

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life Book Review

by Sally Bedell Smith

31575697

From the New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen comes the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than twenty years--perfect for fans of The Crown.

Sally Bedell Smith returns once again to the British royal family to give us a new look at Prince Charles, the oldest heir to the throne in more than three hundred years. This vivid, eye-opening biography--the product of four years of research and hundreds of interviews with palace officials, former girlfriends, spiritual gurus, and more, some speaking on the record for the first time--is the first authoritative treatment of Charles's life that sheds light on the death of Diana, his marriage to Camilla, and his preparations to take the throne one day.

Prince Charles brings to life the real man, with all of his ambitions, insecurities, and convictions. It begins with his lonely childhood, in which he struggled to live up to his father's expectations and sought companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. It follows him through difficult years at school, his early love affairs, his intellectual quests, his entrepreneurial pursuits, and his intense search for spiritual meaning. It tells of the tragedy of his marriage to Diana; his eventual reunion with his true love, Camilla; and his relationships with William, Kate, Harry, and his grandchildren.

Ranging from his glamorous palaces to his country homes, from his globe-trotting travels to his local initiatives, Smith shows how Prince Charles possesses a fiercely independent spirit and yet has spent more than six decades waiting for his destined role, living a life dictated by protocols he often struggles to obey. With keen insight and the discovery of unexpected new details, Smith lays bare the contradictions of a man who is more complicated, tragic, and compelling than we knew, until now.

MY REVIEW:  While I have always been fascinated by the British royal family, I found                    some of the lengthy details boring in this book about the future king of England  Prince Charles. He seems to have a propensity for irritating the parliament and World Leaders with his unusual stances on important issues.   He rocked the world when he married Lady Diana Spencer and then he further shocked the world when he continued an affair with then married Camilla Parker-Bowles and divorced Princess Diana.  Surprisingly, the world seems to have accepted his marriage to Camilla even though there was much initial protest concerning the union between the two divorced middle-aged Charles and Camilla.
         I must state that I was and still am a huge fan of Princess Diana and I still feel that Prince Charles never loved her and only married her because of her purity and his need to produce an heir to the throne.  I believe that Diana was madly in love with him however, and suffered a broken heart which then led to several of her own affairs.  I woke at 5 a.m. to watch their wedding.  I did the same to mourn along with millions as she was laid to rest with her two precious sons walking behind the cortege with Prince Charles by their side.  I did have great respect for Prince Charles in the way he conducted himself at Diana's tragic death....traveling to return her body home, planning her funeral, and publicly showing his grief and supporting their sons.   My feelings of affection for Diana and distaste for Camilla likely colored my appreciation of this book, but the writing was impeccable even if a bit tedious at times.                                                                                                                                                
           I am giving a four-star rating to this book.  I highly recommend it to those who enjoy reading biographies as I do.  
           I received a copy of this book from netgalley and Random House to read.  I was encouraged, but not required to write a review of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author:
Sally Bedell Smith


Author of six biographies: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House 2102); For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton: The White House Years (Random House 2007); Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House (Random House 2004); Diana In Search of Herself: Portrait of a Troubled Princess (Random House 2004); Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill Harriman (Simon & Schuster, 1996); In All His Glory: The Life and Times of William S. Paley and the Birth of Modern Broadcasting (Simon & Schuster, 1990).
Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair since 1996.
Previously cultural news reporter for The New York Times, staff writer for TV Guide, and reporter-researcher for Time Magazine.
Awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for magazine reporting in 1982; fellow at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University from 1986 to 1987.
B.A. from Wheaton College and M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Discipline That Connects with Your Child's Heart" Book Review

Discipline that Connects with Your Child's Heart 

by Jim and Lynne Jackson

15704373

Ever feel stuck in a discipline rut? This book will help you develop a new "lens" for effective, caring discipline with your child. "Discipline that Connects" is a profound and deeply Biblical way of thinking about corrective discipline. In these pages you'll grow in insight about yourself and your child. You'll learn to: Prepare your heart and stay calm when your kids are not.Think on your feet and respond with confidence and wisdom.Turn behavior problems into opportunities.Help children learn to be responsible for their own actions and truly reconcile with others.Use creative consequences that build skills, values, and faith in your children.Get out of the discipline rut and into your children's hearts! 

MY REVIEW:  It would definitely have been useful if this had been available when I was raising my three daughters, but I wanted to read it to be a better grandparent to the precious little ones God has blessed me with.  I feel that I can also  be a resource to my stressed out daughters and stepchildren as they seek to raise their children with Christian principles.   The authors use scripture references to support the principles they address.   They encourage an approach to parenting that is sure to reach the soul of their children and be a balm to innocent little ones entrusted to their care by God.  Listening with love is a large part of the discipline plan they present in the pages of this book.   I would recommend this book to parents, grandparents, and those foster parents and others who are raising children.   I did feel that some of the book's discipline techniques could have been explained with fewer words.  Stressed out parents do not have much free time for reading.
     I give this book a 4 star rating.  I felt some principles could have been discussed in a shorty manner.  
    I received a copy of this book from netgalley and Bethany House Publishers.


Jim and Lynne Jackson:
Jim   Jackson


"Annie's Recipe" Book Review

Annie's Recipe Book Review

Hope Chest of Dreams #2

by Lisa Jones Baker

30547689

Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true... 

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside--to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality... 
Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart's truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer...

MY REVIEW:  Hope chests are so special.  I never had the pleasure of owning own myself, except for a very small cedar one that a local furniture shop gifted to every senior girl upon our high school graduation.  I treasured that little chest and kept special things in it...the hand-tatted handkerchief that my grandmother made, love letters from my husband from our dating days, etc.  Sam makes hand-carved ones with special meaning for each recipient.  Annie and her sisters have made it their mission to minister to Sam after the death of his wife, and he has a unique bond with them.  He gives wise counsel to Annie as she renews a friendship with Levi from her school days in the Amish schoolhouse .  They were inseparable in their younger years and they find that the desire to spend time together is just as great if not even greater.  But he is now English and mamm and the Amish community disapprove of their relationship as they fear she will leave the Amish faith and become English.   Will their love for each other be realized?  He doesn't want to leave the English world and she doesn't want to leave the Amish.  Can God help them find a way to be together?  
        I loved reading this story and discovering new things about Annie and her sisters.  They share a special bond and this resonates with me as I feel the same way about my sister and four brothers.  Family is important to me, just as it is for Annie, Levi, and the Amish in general.  My faith in God drives my decisions and that is certainly true for the Amish.  Levi was once Amish himself so this is still vital to his life as well.  Lisa Jones Baker incorporates faith beautifully into the words of her writing.  This book would be appropriate for teenage readers as well as adults.  
      I am pleased to say this book deserves a rating of 5 stars.
      I received a gift copy of this book from netgalley and Kensington Publishing Corporation.

About the Author:
Lisa Jones Baker



Lisa Jones Baker grew up near a small Amish town in Illinois that she frequented with her family on weekends. She's also a dog lover and a fan of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she spent nearly two decades. Lisa graduated from Illinois State University with a French major, has been on 5 out of 7 continents, and considers her parents the best in the world. Raised in a Christian home, Lisa has always been blessed with love and support.

Monday, May 1, 2017

"More Than a Marriage" Book Review

Book Review of More Than a Marriage

Wells Landing Quilting Circle #3

by Amy Lillard

32791718

In the close-knit Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, a women’s quilting circle welcomes a new member who is struggling to keep her marriage together—or let it go . . .

Quiet and unassuming Tess Smiley is new to Wells Landing. She is also newly married to Jacob Smiley. But already she is finding that married life isn’t the gentle union of contented devotion she had envisioned. Rather, the old-fashioned qualities that had endeared her to Jacob have become a source of inner confusion. As his father did with his wife, Jacob has begun treating Tess like a servant, taking her for granted, no longer surprising her with little presents. And once he began his job at the Englisch shed company, he has become more interested in his company smartphone than in spending time with Tess . . .

Jacob can’t see what Tess is upset about and continues his boorish ways, ignoring her pleas to attend marriage classes. Tess loves Jacob with all her heart, but it’s her heart that tells her she must take a stand. With surprising determination, she asks for help from her new community and is welcomed into the home of her friend Clara Rose and her husband Obie. Only then does Jacob begin to see how deeply his behavior has hurt Tess. But is he too late? He may be contrite, but he will need to show much more than that to win her love all over again . . . 


Book Review:  What a different book this Amish romance is!  Amy Lillard has taken a huge step outside the typical Amish fiction work and I love it!  I appreciate the fact that she steps away and dares to risk acceptance of a different storyline than the norm.  This book is inviting and one I read with relish!  
      
Tess is upset when Jacob uses his cellphone that he received from his work boss to use for business. The Amish normally do not use cellphones except for business, but Jacob makes a facebook page and stays on it all the time.  Tess feels forgotten and disrespected.  Jacob just doesn't see that he is hurting Tess.

I can understand how Tess feels to want to be noticed and cherished by her husband.  In marriage, it is important for couples to do things together and feel happy to be with their spouse.  I would feel neglected as well, but I would continue to be faithful to my marriage and would not consider giving up.   I really love that this book veers from the works of Amish fiction.

My rating for this book is 5 stars *****
I received an ebook of this Amish fiction from netgalley.  No review was required. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

Amy Lillard

(Taken from amazon's author page)
I'm a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I've retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I'm from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son-a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels-not necessarily in that order. I'm a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I'm shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that's why I love to write inspirational romances. The two go hand-in-hand for me.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I'm a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that's me June Cleaver with a laptop.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Upon a Spring Breeze" book review

Review of Upon a Spring Breeze

Every Amish Season, Book #1

by Kelly Irvin

30649243

Book Description

After a devastating winter, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.

Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.

Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.

When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy and the possibility of love?
 

MY REVIEW:   Plans, dreams, memories, Bess and Caleb had so many plans, dreams, and happy memories together in their short married life.  Plans and dreams for their precious bopli to arrive soon.  There would be cuddles and snuggles with their darling bopli together.  Then those plans and dreams were shattered in a flash.  Caleb would not be snuggling and cuddling their precious bopli with Bess.  He would not be holding her close in their bed or brushing her long, glorious hair ever again.   Never.  Never. Never.   Bess wonders how a good and loving Gott could do such a horrible thing as to take her mann just before their bopli was to arrive.  But he did take him. 
      Bess needs love, support and encouragement now and Aidan promised his best friend, Caleb, who asked with his last breath for him to take care of his bopli.   He works to keep his promise to Caleb.   But poor Bess is sad and angry and grieving.  Can she come around and learn to love and have joy and laughter again?   Or will she drown in her sorrow?
     My heart went out to Bess and to Aidan.  I grieved along with them as they dealt with the loss of their dearest friend.  I don't know how I would have been able to handle life or to get out of the bed every day and walk around as though nothing had happened.   I don't agree with the Amish way of handling grief with never mentioning the name of the deceased.  I feel that people need to express their grief and talk about their loved one.  Kelly Irvin tells the story of love and loss in a way that is gut-wrenching and raw with emotion.  She tugs on the heartstrings of her readers as she tells their story.    I am so excited that this is the first book in the Every Amish Season series.  I am looking forward to hearing more about Bess, Aidan and their friends and family.
        I simply had to give this book a star rating of five!  because it's just.that.good!
        I received a copy of this book from netgalley and the publishers.  While netgalley would like for me to review the book if I choose to do so, I was not required to review this book and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:
Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin's newest series, Every Amish Series, begins with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker's Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop's Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper's Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it "a beautifully woven masterpiece." The Beekeeper's Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly has novellas in The Amish Christmas Gift and The Amish Marketplace, both of which were also ECPA bestsellers. She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine..

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW's San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have two grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren.