Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett – A Real Gem

I love finding books by authors whose work is new to me.  I found a real gem in Karen Barnett’s new book Ever Faithful, which is the third book in the Vintage National Parks Novel series.

Reading Ever Faithful was like a breath of fresh air.  Obviously, the setting of the novel in Yellowstone National Park in the 1930s brings a whole different feel to the book.  The pace of the story is relaxed and enjoyable and I feel like the characters were unveiled slowly and over time the reader gets to know them.  I enjoyed the characters, even though there was a mystery and someone made bad choices, characters weren’t vilified.  Faith was a part of the storyline, especially forgiveness.

Karen does a great job in her descriptions of nature and the surroundings.  She does so without being too wordy and lets the readers imagine the beauty of the Yellowstone National Park.  It was interesting learning what the park was like 90 years ago and what it would have been like to work at the park.  I had never heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but it sounded like an excellent program to help young men during a very hard time in our Nation.  It was also a great way to introduce people from different walks of life and bring them together for the storyline and watch them grow and learn.  You can’t help but know all the research and time Karen must have put in to write this book and make the characters and setting come alive.

I loved reading Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett.  I took my time reading the book because every time I opened the book, I felt like I was taking a break and going somewhere beautiful with people I enjoyed.  I could set aside the demands of the moment and get away to a different place and time.  After reading Ever Faithful, I want to go back and Karen’s other books and look forward to her future novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley and WaterBrook Publishers for the opportunity to read Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Ever Faithful will be available on June 18, 2019.

 

 

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Over the Line by Kelly Irvin – Mixed Reaction

Over the Line is Kelly Irvin’s newest book in the romantic suspense genre.  I recently discovered Kelly’s writing when I read two of her recent Amish themed books and fell in love with her writing.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book.

Over the Line is an action-packed novel that seems like it could have been taken from today’s headline news.  Chef and restaurateur, Gabriella Benoit is locking up her restaurant late at night and is met by a stranger who was carrying a gun and calling her name.  As he clutches his chest and falls to the ground he says “Jake” but dies before he can say anything more about Gabby’s brother.  She’d never imagined she’d need help from her former fiancé Eli Cavazos to find her missing brother or find herself in the middle of an illegal gun smuggling ring at the border.  How is she going to protect her sister and family from some very desperate and dangerous men?  Just who are the good guys and who are the bad ones?

I had a mixed reaction to Over the Line.  I appreciate that it’s clean and not filled with sexual immorality or filthy language.  There is some Christian faith included in the book and I thought it was better and more genuine towards the end of the book.  I liked Eli’s mother and her openness and transparency and how different characters dealt with the issue of forgiveness.  I especially liked the character Deacon, he was a nice surprise.  As you get to know him you can see he’s a decent sincere person and Natalie was very likeable too.

But over-all, I feel like the action was center stage and eclipsed the characters.  Some of the prayers or mentions of God and faith seemed like they were out of place or just thrown in, instead of a natural overflow of the character’s thinking or feelings.  Some of the character’s actions didn’t make a lot of sense, like Deacon trespassing or Gabby confronting a police officer she suspected was corrupt because she was overcome with emotion instead of using reason and logic.  That didn’t make sense coming from a person who was a former district attorney.  The scene where Gabriella and Natalie crashed the van doesn’t seem realistic because the dialogue goes on and on when the bad guys are coming their way with big guns.  I wasn’t overly fond of the main character Gabriella.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking this must be the second book in a series because there was a lot of back-story between Gabriella and Eli and what had happened in Natalie’s life previously.  I was surprised to find out that this wasn’t the second book.  Some of the background information and questions I had were answered later in the book.

I would recommend Over the Line to someone who likes Kelly Irvin’s writing, with a note that it’s much different than her Amish themed books.  Also, for those who enjoy Christian suspense novels.  Over the Line will be available June 11, 2019.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Over the Line by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck – Makes characters and their world come to life

I love finding authors whose work is new to me and when they are good it’s like finding a treasure trove.  The Memory House is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Hauck and I very much enjoyed it.

What does NYPD Sergeant, Beck Holiday, have in common with the lovely bride, Everleigh Applegate, from Waco Texas in the 1950’s?  How will their lives intersect?  Can wounds that were suffered and emotional scars be healed?  Or is life as they know it over?  Will hope one day return?  Will there be another chance for happiness?  Can you rebuild a friendship with a friend who doesn’t remember the past?  Will the men in their lives, Bruno Endicott and Don Callahan, persevere in winning their hearts?  Will they find what it takes to overcome their career challenges?

What I liked best about this book were the characters, and though their lives were very different from one another, their lives shared some common themes.  I found the characters and their struggles very relatable.  It was interesting learning about the career of a sports agent.  I also enjoyed learning a little bit of Texas history.

I confess at first, I found Beck Holiday kind of hard to understand and like.  She rubbed me the wrong way with her crummy attitude and lack of communication.  But over time, as more about her character’s background was revealed I came to understand and even like her.  I found myself frustrated with Everleigh and her inability or unwillingness to make changes and get her life back.  I almost felt suffocated by the grief she wallowed in, but then I realized that perhaps the character felt suffocated too.

I wish that some of the main characters had a strong Christian faith and that it had been woven into the storyline.  Some of the background characters were Christians and I especially appreciated Gaynor and her display of grace and forgiveness.

Overall, I liked The Memory House and recommend it.  Author Rachel Hauck has a way of drawing a reader into the lives of her characters and making their world come alive.  I think it must be challenging for an author to write about two timelines and two sets of characters.  But Rachel did a wonderful job and it was easy to switch back and forth between the timelines.  The Memory House is a place I would like to visit.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and Audra Jennings for the opportunity to read The Memory House in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Here’s some information about author Rachel Hauck:

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

For more information, visit www.rachelhauck.com, Facebook (@rachelhauck), Twitter (@RachelHauck) and Instagram (@rachelhauck)

 

If you would like to read The Memory House by Rachel Hauck enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

 

 

With Winter’s First Frost – Kelly Irvin –Relatable, Insightful and Memorable

Kelly Irvin is an author whose work is relatively new to me.  With Winter’s First Frost is the fourth book in the Every Amish Season Novels and I absolutely loved this book.

Laura Kauffman was one of my favorite characters, the kind of woman you would love to have as a mother or grandmother.  I could relate to her physical aches and pains that come with getting older, understood the grief she felt even after being a widow for so many years and appreciated her willing, loving and helpful spirit to so many of her family and friends.  I came to appreciate, understand and care about Zechariah Stutzman through Laura’s eyes.  He wasn’t just a difficult cranky old man.  He was funny and intelligent and a man who grieved the loss of his beloved wife.  Because of Parkinson’s his body wasn’t cooperating with him and it made daily life difficult, so much so that this family tried to protect him and even seemed to treat him like a child.  Was he just a burden to his family now or was he still useful?  Dare these older people think about or ever hope to find love again so late in life?

A part of the story I found interesting was Laura’s two great-granddaughters, Tamara and Hannah.  Both were facing critical decisions in their young lives that would impact their futures.  Not to get off track, but I wondered how the Amish could biblically justify banning a member of their community when the person genuinely repented of their sin and sought forgiveness.  I found the way that the older parents were treated somewhat bothersome.  I appreciate that the Amish care for their elderly family members, but in this story, it seemed as if they were treated in a manner like you would a child, instead of respected intelligent adult.

Kelly is gifted writer and is able to weave a story and capture, in a very relatable way, what characters are thinking and feeling in their season of life.  I could understand the memories, fears, sorrow, hopes and desires that these characters expressed.  Kelly is very insightful in bringing these characters to life and they are very memorable, I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn’t reading the book.  She paints a picture of the Amish community with her words that is beautiful, interesting and intriguing.

I’ve not read too many Amish themed books, but I love Kelly Irvin’s writing and I highly recommend With Winter’s First Frost.  It’s a beautiful story with rich, loveable and relatable characters in a season of life that many of us may face.

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan for the opportunity to read With Winter’s First Frost by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Four Soils of the Human Heart

The Seed
The Word of God
Sown into the sinful human heart

The sower proclaims the Word of God
Christ as Lord
Shares the Gospel message

The hard heart
Unreceptive to the Word
The seed cannot penetrate
The soil of the hardened human heart
Ears hear, but the words are not understood
Soon the evil one will snatch away what was sown

Dare I say
We all were born with a hard heart
Alive to sin and dead to God

The superficial heart
Soil that looks good at first glance
But lying beneath is a bedrock of stone
Seed is sown and springs up ever so quickly
Soon it will wither and die under the sun’s scorching heat
Roots cannot grow deep nor penetrate a heart of stone

A heart preoccupied
Good soil, polluted with weeds and thorns
Rob good seed of nutrients and light needed to grow
Soon the seed will be choked out, slowly over time it dies
Just like the cares, worries and riches of this world
Leave behind an empty shell, with no life, nor fruit of faith

Lastly, we see the good soil
A heart prepared by God through His Word
The seed of the Gospel is heard and understood
A repentant heart responds
Bearing the fruit of the Spirit
Obedience and faithfully persevering

What is necessary for bad soil?
Nothing, do absolutely nothing!
What about good soil?
God uses His Word to prepare a sinner’s heart
Enables one to hear the Word
Understand it and bear fruit

So, which is it?
The Sovereignty of God?
The responsibility of man?
Yes!

By Susan Wachtel
March 10, 2019

This poem was inspired by a sermon from our Pastor, Tom Pennington on Matthew 13:1-23 – The Parable of the Sower, and  from the notes that I took.

I would like to encourage you to listen to this message, Four Soils Part 2. Perhaps you are concerned about the salvation of a loved one…someone you’ve prayed for. Maybe you are wondering if you are truly saved? Was there a profession of faith? When you look back do you see fruit? Fruit of repentance? Fruit of the Spirit?

There is absolutely nothing more important than knowing with absolute assurance that you are saved, forgiven of your sin, all because of Jesus Christ and His perfect and complete atoning death on the cross.

This last week, we saw news about celebrities who died unexpectedly. One was pretty young. The thing is, none of us knows the day and hour when we will die. Once we die, there are no second chances. There will be no changing our minds. It’s important that we get it right today. For today is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.

And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:1-9

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin – Memorable…A Real Gem!

When I find an author whose books I like, I want to read all of them.  That’s why I was excited to find author Sarah Sundin’s newest book The Sky Above Us, which is the second book in her Sunrise at Normandy Series.

The story of the Paxton family continues in The Sky Above Us as we are introduced to the middle brother, Lt. Alder Paxton.  He is making his way to England where he will be stationed with American Air Force in 1943, as they join the battle to prepare for D-Day.  Though he is trying to leave his past behind him, it has a way of catching up.  What are the chances that 5,000 miles from home Alder will see his estranged brothers Wyatt and Clay?  Onboard ship, Alder will meet the lovely Violet Lindstrom who is with the American Red Cross.  She has her sights set on serving as a missionary one day, in a faraway land.  Little did she know that the Lord would open her eyes to a different mission field that would resonate with her heart’s longing and desires.

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book.  Not only did I like the setting, WWII in England as D-Day approached, but also the characters and how they fit into a pivotal time in our history.  Sarah must have done a lot of research to make the dogfights and battles seem so realistic and easy to visualize.  In reading The Sky Above Us, I got a taste of what the people who lived through that era may have experienced.

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the history of the American Red Cross and their roll in helping servicemen as they served abroad.  Those women who served were hardworking and brave and they too put their lives on the line.

As much as I was intrigued and fascinated with the setting and characters, I loved and learned from some of the themes in the book.  Forgiveness was looked at from many different angles.  Compassion, mercy, humility, obedience, friendship, self-righteousness, repentance and God’s calling were some of the other themes.

I very much liked Adler and Violet, but my favorite character was Nick Westin.  He was a wonderful friend, mentor, brother in Christ, father and husband.  I’d love to see a book about this character.  He was memorable and very dear.

Not only did I love The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin, but I learned from it.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the greatest generation and what they did to save our Country and the Western world from Nazism.  This is a book I will read again and would definitely give it as a gift.  I took my time reading this book and I didn’t want it to end.  It was so enjoyable to read it at the end of each day.  Though it’s part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone book.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Killing the Deep State by Jerome R Corsi – A Detailed and Well Documented Examination of the Unprecedented and Coordinated Attacks on the President

Like so many Americans who enjoy politics, I followed the 2016 election long before President Trump was the nominee, as well as the aftermath which has continued as Robert Mueller’s “investigation” goes on and on.  Because of that I was interested in reading Jerome Corsi’s new book Killing the Deep State – The Fight to Save President Trump.  I wanted to find out what Corsi’s take was on all that’s gone on.

In Killing the Deep State, Jerome goes into a lot of detail on the different aspects of the attacks on President Trump.  Starting with the FBI and the multitude of key players including Comey, Page, Strozok, Rosenstein, McCabe, the Ohrs and Christopher Steele.  We can’t leave out Hillary Clinton and company, nor the Department of Justice with their cast of characters.  How does Julian Assange and the main stream media fit into the puzzle?

But why all the attacks?  It was just another election, right?  It happens every four years, someone wins and someone loses.  What made the 2016 Election different?  That’s where Jerome Corsi starts diving in and unpeeling the Russian Collusion narrative and what’s behind it.  Who are the driving forces and why?

With all that’s gone on over the last three years, I had forgotten some of the happenings.  But Jerome Corsi goes in to great detail to document what’s happened and explain why it’s happened.  This book is well researched and well documented, over twenty percent of the book lists details about the sources of information.

Like Trump or hate him, whether you are a supporter or critic, most people will acknowledge that there have been unprecedented, multifaceted and unrelenting attacks on President Trump like nothing we’ve seen before.

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, I think we can all agree that no one should be above the law.  We want our government officials and law enforcement to operate within the law and not corrupt it for their own agenda.  The agenda that someone might support today, because they don’t like the current President, can easily be turned around and used against them by the next administration or group in power.

I do recommend Jerome R Corsi’s book Killing the Deep State.  It was very interesting and if I can be honest, it was kind of depressing.  Reading about corruption within our own government is very unsettling and overwhelming.

If you like politics and want to know what’s happened over the last few years, you’ll want to read Killing the Deep State by Jerome Corsi.  He presents theories as to what motivates and drives the corruption that we’ve seen take place.  You may agree with it or have your own theories.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Humanix Books for the opportunity to read Killing the Deep State by Jerome R Corsi in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.