In My Mailbox Monday: August 29

In My Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs: Check out MailboxMonday and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are form the library, from a store, from a friend, e-books, or actually in the mailbox.

Last week, I only received one book.
The Scroll by Grand T. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky

But I did receive screen protectors for my kindle!


Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Sweet Sanctuary is a family drama centered around a single mom.  Wren and her son, Charlie, have been on their own for years until one day her grandma Ruth shows up at her door wanting an 90th birthday party that includes the whole family.  Wren is not looking forward to reuniting with her siblings, but it seems inevitable. Added to the stress of preparing for the party and facing the past, Charlie's father has suddenly shown an interest in reconnecting, and everyone seems to think Wren needs a man in her life.  Wren does end up spending time with Paul, initially for a project to help the town and library where she works.  She doesn't know what to do about Charlie's father or about her impending reunion that she knows is doomed.  Her friend Missy encourages her to read Psalm 27 and seek God, and as Wren does, she finds peace amid trying circumstances.

I have read Sheila Walsh's nonfiction before, but this is the first fiction book that I have read by her.  The characters were extremely real, and I could empathize with them, especially Wren, even though I have not experienced what she has.  I appreciated the secondary characters as well.  They each added depth to the story and message.  The main theme is relying on God and living in His will, but there is also a message of second chances and forgiveness.  This is a well-written novel with a good story, although I felt the excitement at the end of the book may have been slightly unnecessary.  It did reinforce the message of relying on God, even in times of trouble.  I would definitely recommend this book.  I enjoyed reading it.
I received a free e-copy through Netgalley.  This is no way influenced my review.  The above post is my honest opinion.


Healing Heart by Beth Wiseman

Healing Hearts is a compilation of three novellas by Beth Wiseman.  The first is "A Choice to Forgive" which was originally published in An Amish Christmas.  In this story, Daniel returns to his home community after 18 years away, much to the surprise of his first love, Lydia.  Lydia had loved Daniel once, but after he disappeared one Christmas Eve with only a note, she moved on with her life.  Married to Daniel's brother until his untimely death 2 years earlier, Lydia struggles with his return.  She thought she had forgiven him years ago, but finds that may not be the case. There may be more to forgive than she thought.  This is a sweet story of forgiveness and second chances.  I was brought to tears a couple of times, especially during Lydia's earnest search for God and his will.  I do find that many of the Amish stories I read include the death of a loved one and often the return of an old flame; however I enjoyed this quick read and found a strong message in it.

The second story in this collection is "A Change of Heart," which was originally published in An Amish Gathering.  In it, Leah, a girl of 18, loves to write and is not so good at traditional Amish ways, like cooking, sewing, and gardening.  Her sister's fiance has a brother who has always liked Leah's spark.  He wants to court her, but Leah is not interested in marrying. By agreeing to read her book, they begin to spend time together.  Unfortunately, her father wants her to help more around the house and not to write.  On a journey with highs and lows, Leah "finds her way."  I loved this one.  I especially enjoyed Leah's character and how she writes about the Englisch.  It is an interesting and unique twist.  The romance was sweet and the relationship between her and her father was real and tangible.  There was a clear  message of being who God made you to be and not who others want you to be.

The final story is "Healing Hearts," originally published in An Amish Love.  Naaman Lap returns home to his wife, Levina, after being gone for almost a year.  His children have all married, and he felt lost and alone in a house with just his wife.  Levina wants to forgive her husband; she wants to trust him again, but how can she after he abandoned her once already.  Just as relationships seem to be healing a sheriff comes looking for Naaman, and Levina starts to doubt him once again.  This was a beautiful story of God's will, of knowing God has a plan in everything even when you can't see it.  It is a story of forgiveness and second chances, a story of love and marriage with real struggles.  I really enjoyed the marital struggle and reconciliation in this one.  So often in books love is made to look easy, and while falling in love usually is...human love needs to be nurtured or it will fade.   The theme was strong and important.

I often find when reading novellas that I want more, which was the case with these three as well.  This could be taken as a compliment because I liked them enough to want to read more; however, I am a character-oriented person, and in some places the characters could have been more developed.    Overall, I really enjoyed these stories. They are light, easy reads with beautiful messages, and I would recommend this book.  I will probably be looking for more by Beth Wiseman.

I received a free e-copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.


In My Mailbox Monday: August 22

 In my Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs: Checkout Mailboxmonday and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, from a friend or actually in the mailbox.
(This week's mailbox found at Dave's Daily Dose)
This week my mailbox is a little smaller than last week, but I still received three books in the mail and 2 ebooks.
The three hard copies were:        
                     Thunder of Heaven by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall

                 The Queen by Steven James
                 and  Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn
The two ebooks were:
                     River's Call by Melody Carlson 
                     and Six Weeks to Skinny Jeans by Amy Cotta


Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I have been wanting to read this one for a while.  That is the problem with my obnoxiously large 'to read' pile, and not being able to say no to new review opportunities!!  I just cannot read them all at once!  I am so glad I finally brought Sarah's Key to the top of my pile!  It was a great read.  While definitely not a "feel good" novel, it was well-written, emotional, and filled with vivid characters and history.  I would highly recommend this book, especially for those who like historical fiction and WWII/holocaust stories.
Points of view alternate between Sarah, a young Jewish girl from Paris during WW2 and Julia Jarmond, a present-day journalist.  This writing technique worked beautifully as Julia researches the Vel'd'Hiv and learns that there is a connection between the historic event and her family.  As Julia's research finally catches up to the narrative of Sarah's experience, she begins looking for Sarah.  The historical aspect is realistic and horrible.  Julia's experience learning about parts of the war she hadn't known about is also realistic and easy to understand. (How much happened that most of us know nothing about?)  I would highly recommend Sarah's Key.  It is a great book about a difficult subject, and there is hope at the end which I like.


In My Mailbox Monday: August

In my Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs: Checkout Mailboxmonday and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, from a friend or actually in the mailbox.
Interesting mailbox for this week found at 15axioms.com

This week I bought a couple for my kindle and found a number of new free ones too.  
Here is my list from Amazon:
  • The Garden Key by Angela Dolbear
  • The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead ($1.79)
  • Heart of Gold by Lacy Williams (free)
  • The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer ($0.99)
  • The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
  • Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus (free)
  • Waterfall: A Novel by Lisa T. Bergren (free)
From Netgalley:
  • The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead
  • The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy
  • Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh
  • The Chair by James L. Rubart
  • Rachel Yoder series by Wanda Brunstetter (young adult)
  • Shadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock
  • Sticky Faith by Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark
  • Ten Plagues by Mary Nealy
  • The Guardiian by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed
  • The Betrayal by Doug Bond
I guess I have my reading cut out for me...


Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann

Kristen Heitzmann is a great author; she is one of my favorite.  Her books combine quality writing with interesting characters and a unique plot.
In Indelible, Trevor MacDaniel saves little Cody from the mouth of a lion (literally).  Cody's aunt, Natalie Reeve, is extremely grateful.  Natalie, a gifted sculptor, and Trevor become friends.  Soon Trevor starts getting unusual mail and people are in danger.
I loved the unique characters, all with special gifts and special disabilities.  The Lord chooses and uses the "weak."  Fleur, although blind, was loving and kind, which may have saved her life.  Natalie saw "with the eyes of God," and although that sometimes paralyzed her with a type of blindness, her gift of sculpting touched and changed lives.  The storyline was fast-paced and interesting; although I had a little trouble with the sections in the antagonist's point of view.  Overall, this psychological suspense kept me turning pages, engaged and excited.

I received a free e-copy of this novel from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my honest review.  


My First Hands-On Bible

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  My First Hands-On Bible is the preschooler version of the popular Hands-On Bible, which has sold over a half million copies. Jesus taught with hands-on lessons and illustrations;My First Hands-On Bible uses the same experience-based learning to communicate God’s Word in an active, understandable way. My First Hands-On Bible is a fun and simple yet meaningful way to engage preschool, pre-K, and K children (ages 3-6) with the Bible while helping them build a solid faith foundation. Each lesson focuses on a specific Bible point through a variety of activities in order to reinforce and help young children remember the stories and lessons. Using common household items, you can help your children have a “hands-on” learning experience while engaging them in 85 key stories from the Bible. My First Hands-On Bible doesn’t just retell the Bible stories; it also includes actual Scripture from the easy-to-understand and easy-to-read Holy Bible, New Living Translation. In addition to the stories and activities, there are fun illustrations, prayers, and a special Jesus Connection feature.

I am reading this to my children; they are four and six.  We are loving it.  The activities are creative and fun, and the questions are thought-provoking and age appropriate.  There are short prayers at the end of each story to demonstrate application and the fact that you can pray about anything.  This is a great way to incorporate your daily Bible story into your daily life.  There are short activities to do during the story, like acting something out, or feeling different textures, etc.  Then at the end of each story, along with the prayer and questions is an activity to do during the week. Suggestions include games, crafts, bath activities, collecting or watching for things throughout the week and many more.  I think this is a terrific Bible that makes the stories even more fun and easy to understand.  I am sure to use some of the ideas for my Sunday School class as well!  

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Many thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network!


In My Mailbox Monday: August 8

In my Mailbox Mondayoriginates from two blogs:  Checkout Mailboxmonday and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, from a friend or actually in the mailbox.
(I like to pick different and interesting mailboxes to use for the picture, what do you think of this one?)

I haven't posted a mailbox monday in a long time, so I have tons of new books.  I received book in the mail and got a few ebooks last week as well. The book I got in the mail was A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  Renee is a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries with Lysa Terkeurst.  Check out her blog here, or visit the Proverbs 31 homepage for lots of great info!  Here's a description of the book from Renee's website:  Chapter by chapter, A Confident Heart will help you: Learn to fail forward even when life or sin sets you back;  Live confidently in your God-given purpose, passion, and personality; Break free from people-pleasing and performance-based living;  Exchange “against me” thoughts with scripture-based God is “for me” thoughts; Trust the certainty of God’s promises in the uncertainty of your circumstances and emotions.  Powerful scripture-based prayers are at the end of each chapter, along with Bible study questions and a chart with thirty-one different promises to overcome our most common self-doubts.  
The e-galleys I received from Netgalley are Raising a Daughter after God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George, Light from a Distant Star by Mary McGarry Morris, and Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin.  I am a big fan of NetGalley!!  


Homeward: A Novel

Two Melody Carlson books in a row--this one I read on my kindle, at the beach.  Yay for beach reads!  I liked this one too.
Meg Lancaster returns home after being gone twenty years.  There is quite a bit of tension between her and her mother, so she stays with her sister.  Much has changed while Meg was away.  Her sister is married with three daughters; her grandmother is sick in bed and her grandfather's beloved cranberry bog has been greatly neglected.  Her mother seems different as well.  Meg starts to feel "at home" again as she works to save the cranberry bog and develops new relationships with old friends and family.
This is a story of a "prodigal daughter" looking back and forgiving-not only for the offender's sake, but also for her own sake.  The novel has great personal growth and wonderful relationships alongside a bit of mystery and romance.  The characters, situations, and emotions were real and easy to relate.  I liked the strong theme and message.
I would definitely recommend this book, and others would too; it is the recipient of the RITA award.  I think you should all go out and buy it right away.  It is currently available in e-book form for only $2.99!!!

I recieved an free e-copy of this book from Glass Road Public Relations in exchange for my honest review!  Thanks :)


River's Song by Melody Carlson

I worked in a bookstore for 8 years and whenever anyone asked for Christian teen books or clean young adult ones, I always recommended Melody Carlson.  However, I had never read anything by her until now.  I have heard so many great things about her books, and now I can agree!

River's Song is a unique narrative about Anna Larson, who returns home for her mother's funeral and finds that she wants the return to be permanent.  Anna moves back into the home of her youth and invites a history buff to stay in her grandmother's old cottage and research Anna's Indian heritage.  As Anna works to turn her parents old store into an inn, her emotional wounds begin to heal.

It is a personal growth story with a message of forgiveness, second chances, and letting go.   The Christian message was not overt, but there was a Christian worldview, (moments of prayer and turning to God for help).  In my opinion that aspect could have been a little stronger.  Even the minor characters were beautifully and uniquely created. The setting was vivid; the events and emotions realistic.

I am reading Homeward on my kindle next, and I am looking forward to it.  I would absolutely recommend River's Song and/or Melody Carlson!

Thanks to Leann Hambly and Glass Road Public Relations for my review copy. The above review is my honest opinion about the book!