Better All the Time (A Darlilng Family Novel)

First off, this is the second book in a series, but don't let that stop you from reading it.  I did not know that before I started it, and it did not take away from my reading experience.  Carre Armstrong Gardner portrays an authentic everyday American family including the beauty of strong relationships and the sorrow of broken ones.  This story focuses mostly on sisters, Amy and Seraphina and some major changes in their lives, but there are many characters and a number of other stories are touched as well.  While it is not essential that you read the earlier book, I wanted to go back and read it to hear more about this family.  I would also like to read the next story because I did get attached to a couple of the characters.

Solid writing, Authentic characters, good theme.  I would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


Letters from My Father's Murderer

Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness (Kregel, June 2015)
When her father was murdered, Laurie Coombs sought justice and found it.
His murderer now serves two life sentences with no possibility of parole. Yet, despite the swift punishment of the killer, Laurie found herself increasingly full of pain, bitterness, and anger she couldn’t control. After coming to faith, she realized she was being called to seek something infinitely more difficult than justice: forgiveness.
This is an extraordinary true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God to change lives. The reader is swept along with Laurie as she undergoes the life-changing transformation of becoming a Christian. As she studies Scripture, seeing God redeeming losses and healing deep wounds time and time again, she starts to understand that her own healing would require her to love her enemy in a real, practical way.
Using her incredible correspondence with the man who killed her father, Laurie reveals a compelling journey of transformation, not only in her life, but in the lives of those whom many would call irredeemable.
Letters from My Father’s Murderer is for any audience Christian or secular who
—Craves freedom from the inability to forgive those who’ve caused them harm
—Wants to hear testimony of God’s power in our obedience
—Has experienced pain through other’s sin against them
—Needs to know healing is always possible
The real story here is not primarily about murder and its fallout, but rather about redemption and how far it can reach.

First off, what a conversation starter!  My kids saw the book and had many questions, so it opened the door to some good conversations about forgiveness and grace.  
The book is authentic and easy to read.  The emotion and events shared in this story portrayed a journey that only the Lord can accomplish!  It is a powerful and moving lesson and picture of God's love and grace given to us and through us!


As Waters Gone By

Can a marriage survive when separated by hundreds of miles and impenetrable prison walls? Find out in Cynthia Ruchti’s new book, As Waters Gone By. Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out.

When I read, the most important aspect that I look for is the theme or lesson.  I always ask what I have learned from the story or what I should apply to my life.  In the litfuse question and answer with author Cynthia Ruchti, she was asked : 
What do you hope readers learn about the evolution of personal faith by reading As Waters Gone By?
Her answer was this:  I think one of the smartest things Emmalyn did — despite her long line of less-than-wise decisions — was to allow herself to be real with the God who knew what was going on inside of her all along. She risked trusting again. Faith is always a risk. And always a risk worth taking. So is love.  
I love this question and her answer.  It seems obvious to be honest with God, who knows all, but I know that sometimes I kid myself into "hiding things."  Being honest in the midst of the struggle and then allowing God to work in you is the only way it will happen!  We must surrender all to Him, in order to allow Him to fill us and form us.  

The characters in this story really make the novel!  They are quirky and real, and you really follow Emmalyn through discoveries and growth. Readers are able to glimpse into the little things that happen to her to allow her to re-open her heart.  I found it incredibly beautiful and motivating, and I would highly recommend it!

I recieved a free e-copy of this book for review. 


Brentwood's Ward

Michelle Griep is a new author for me.  I was just checking out her website. You should check it out too.  Click here to read all about Michelle, or this is the link to her blog. Both are worth looking at.  I really enjoyed each one and took away some great thoughts.

Now, on to the book at hand, Brentwood's Ward. Nicholas Brentwood is hired to watch and protect Emily Payne while her father is away. It quickly becomes clear that it is going to be no easy task. Just dealing with Emily is a struggle, but that pales in comparison to what else they will face together. As dangers and trials are thrown at them, they must rely on the only One who has control.

Emily and Nicholas are realistic and well-written characters. With a quick-moving plot and a strong theme, I enjoyed both the story and the moral. I needed a little more justification to Nicholas's growing feelings towards Emily, but it is a sweet romance. The historical setting is perfect. It adds to the story and educates the reader. The message is strong and clear, which is what matters most.

Overall: Fun book, interesting historical aspect, solid theme!


Still Life by Christa Parrish

I am a Christa Parrish follower and have read most of her books.  You can check out my review for Watch Over Me here. Now on to the book at hand:

Still Life is thought provoking and inspiring.  There were key moments that I pondered well after I put the book down. An example is the section of the book where the title comes. Simple living is still life and is still beautiful.

Adah and Katherine are connected by circumstances. Both women's lives are irreversibly changed when a plane crash takes the lives of everyone on it. Still Life follows these two women and those closest to them as they transition and grow in the aftermath of this event.

These characters are real and flawed, struggling with decisions past and present. Each woman learns and grows through her experiences, and their lessons were beautifully passed on to the readers.  I would recommend this book or an other by Christa Parrish!


Books reviewed in 2013 and 2014

1. Come to the Table by Neta Jackson
2. Raider's Vendetta by Karen Arnpriester
3. Vanished by Irene Hannon
4. Interrupted by Rachel Coker
5. A Daughter's Redemption by Georgiana Daniels
6. Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot
7. The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen
8. A New Home For Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fischer
9. ACTS of the Spirit Filled by Johnnie R. Jones
10. Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith
11. Unbreakable by Nancy Mehl
12. Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White
13. Return of Cassandra Todd by Darrel Nelson
14. Shattered by Dani Pettrey
15. You're Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth
17. Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar
18. Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate
19. Moms Raising Sons to be Men by Rhonda Stoppe
20. Swept Away by Mary Connealy
21. So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley
22. Gospel Centered Woman by Wendy Horger Alsup
23. Love in a Broken Vessel by Mesu Andrews
24. Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings
25. Love at any Cost by Julie Lessman
27. Tales of the Defended Ones by Beth Guckenberger
28. Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn by Evangeline Kelley
29. Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer
30. When Jesus Wept by Bodie and Brock Thoene
31. Psalm 91 for Mothers by Peggy Joyce Ruth
32. A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund
33. Pastor's Wives by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
34. Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck
35. Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade
36. Catch a Falling Star by Beth K. Vogt
37. NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women, Insights for Everyday Life Notes with Lysa Terkeurst
38. The Cat that God Sent and The Dog that Talked to God by Jim Krauss
39. The Offering by Angela Hunt
40. Afloat by Erin Healy
41. The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer
42. That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon
43. Letters to Katie by Kathleen Fuller
44. A Bride for All Seasons: Assorted authors
45. Midnight Sea by Colleen Coble
46. Anomaly by Christa Mcgee
47. Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna M. White
48. Letters by Suzanne Woods Fisher
49. On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin
50. Trapped by Irene Hannon
51. The Promise by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
52. Memory's Door by James L. Rubart
53. Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris
54. The Invention of Sarah Cummings by Olivia Newport
55. Fired Up by Mary Conneally
56. Love's Awakening by Laura Franz
57. The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson
58. Under the Blackberry Moon by Serena B. Miller
59. Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser
60. I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins
61. Sun Shine Down by Gillian Marchenko
62. Just One more thing before you leave home by David Gudgel
63. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
64. To Know you by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel
65. The Dancing master by Julie Klassen
66. The Sinner's Garden by William Sirls
67. The Thief by Stephanie Landsem
68. The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy Higley

Amazing Grace

How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

This is a story of of redemption and hope.  Following both Comfort and her young niece Anniston's point of view, the book begins with a distressful Thanksgiving dinner showing that the well known and popular Harlan family is not the ideal family they have worked so hard to portray.  The family suffers almost unimaginable horrors, and Anniston and Comfort have to learn how to cope.  While Anniston questions her family and finds a new friend, Comfort closes in on herself.  Her search for meaning and hope draws her into a dialogue with the Lord, but she has a huge battle.   Against all odds, she finds that He is faithful and does provide beauty from ashes and joy in the mourning.

The journey of both women to find the "ladders" (from Jacob's dream, ladders in which  the angels take away hurt and bring back hope), is real and heartfelt.  The depth of character is tangible, and backstory is used effectively to understand secondary characters and the deep family pain.

I highly recommend this book, and I have to admit that I just purchased her latest release Then Sings my Soul! I can't wait to start reading it!