True to You by Becky Wade – This Book Is A Real Gem

I’m not usually one to read romance novels, but when I read the description of True to You by Becky Wade, I knew I wanted to read this book.  I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone.  As an adoptee, conducting my own search to find my birthmother, I was intrigued to read this story about an unlikely pair who team up to research and help a find birthmother.

Nora Bradford is content with her quiet life and surrounding herself with the things she loves, which includes family, reading, history, genealogy and watching British dramas.  John Lawson, couldn’t be any more different.  He’s a true-life hero, having saved people’s lives in his former career as a Navy SEAL.  He’s strong, driven and focused and oh yes, good looking too.

Will these opposites attract?  Why is John searching for his birth mother after all these years?  Will their efforts in searching through courthouses records, phone books and talking with people turn up anything that will lead them to John’s birthmother?  How will their faith be challenged when they run into roadblocks and situations that are far beyond their control?  Will it drive them to God or away from Him?

True to You is the first book I’ve read by Becky Wade and I absolutely loved it.  I liked the storyline which included mystery and intrigue.  Becky does a wonderful job in developing characters.  She peels back the layers as the characters grow and change through the story and events.  All the characters were very likeable.  My favorite thing was that characters didn’t make stupid decisions that make you shake your head.  Instead they were reasonable, decent, kind and caring people.  The kind of people you would like to know.

Becky is good at describing places by giving the reader enough detail so they can imagine what it looks like, but she also leaves room for the imagination of the reader to fill in the gaps.  I felt like I could step on to the streets of the charming town of Merryweather and know the people and places.

As good as all that is, the best part of this book is how Becky shows the characters dealing with difficult news and events.  They talk and reason through a crisis of faith.  I liked how Nora recognized some errors in her thinking, that it was worldly and not necessarily biblically sound.  The characters seem honest and real.

Reader’s faith in God can be encouraged and strengthened by some of the dialogue, thoughts and prayers these characters go through.

I highly recommend True to You by Becky Wade.  While this is the first book, I’ve read by Becky, I hope it’s not the last.

I would like to thank Litfuse and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read True to You.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada – Truth to Strengthen our heart, mind, soul and spirit

It’s been my privilege to read Joni Eareckson Tada’s books and devotionals over the years.  That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to read her latest devotional, A Spectacle of Glory – God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day, which she co-authored with Larry Libby.

Joni is a mature Christian and her continued growth and love for the Lord and Scripture comes shining through this devotional, A Spectacle of Glory.  This year, will be 50 years since Joni’s tragic accident that left her as a quadriplegic.  Joni’s life has not been easy and her witness and testimony have a weight of credibility other’s may not have.

In A Spectacle of Glory, Joni focuses on a Scripture verse or two each day.  She includes stories from her own life where she’s seen God at work.  With openness and transparency, she relates to the reader as she confesses her struggles, which may be similar to our own.  She closes each day with a prayer and aligns her heart and mind on the truth from Scripture.

Joni always come back to the Bible which is the believer’s plumb line.  She takes the Scriptures and uses them as a mirror to reflect what’s going on in our heart.  Shining the light of God’s Word has a way of driving out the darkness.

I highly recommend Joni Eareckson Tada new devotional, A Spectacle of Glory, written with Larry Libby.  It’s a great way to start or end your day.

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan for the opportunity to read A Spectacle of Glory.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon – A Story of Grace and Redemption

Sandpiper Cove was the first book I’ve read by author Irene Hannon.  I hope to read other books by this gracious and gifted author.

I loved reading this book.  It was a real treasure with stories of grace and redemption in the lives several characters who live in Hope Harbor.  This book is an example of why I like to read books by Christian authors who write about faith and show it lived out in their characters and everyday life.

Sandpiper Cove tells the story of Adam Stone, an ex-con who moved to Hope Harbor with the hopes of starting a new life for himself.  He’s quiet and a bit of a loner.  However, crime which he was hoping to get away from, comes to his doorstep, not once, but twice.  Getting to know the police chief, Lexie Graham, was not on his list of things to do.  However, providence was at work in the lives of these two people and their friends, family and co-workers.

I really liked the characters in this book, both the main characters and supporting characters.  It felt like I could walk into Hope Harbor and meet these people and feel welcome.  They were people I would want to know.  I liked the relationships in this book and how it showed people can impact others for good or bad.

I appreciated that Sandpiper Cove was a safe book, one that did not assault me with vulgarity, profanity, sexual immorality and violence.

I highly recommend Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon.  This book was a pleasure to read.  The only problem I encountered was that it ended.  I look forward to reading more of Irene’s books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell publishers for the opportunity to read Sandpiper Cove.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman – Faith Strengthened and Encouraged, Rooted and Grounded in the Truth of Scripture

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to read Steven Curtis Chapman’s autobiography, Between Heaven and The Real World.  Steven’s professional career started in the late 1980’s, which was a few years before I became a Christian.  When I think of the music that influenced me as young Christian and throughout the years, Steven’s music is at the top of that list.  That’s why I wanted to read this book.

I loved and enjoyed Between Heaven and the Real World and want to read it again and share it with others.  I wept as Steven shared in a very humble, open and transparent way the pains and trials he and his wife Mary Beth and their family endured over the years, most notable was the death for their precious daughter Maria Sue.

When you connect with an artist’s work and feel like he expresses in words some of the thoughts and emotions you’ve experienced, it’s interesting to learn the genesis of the songs and what was going on in his life when they were written.  It was heartening to see the providential hand of God in Steven’s life.  How He had gifted him from a young age to love and write songs that gave a voice to what he was feeling, his faith and capture his reflections about God.

I appreciated the honesty in which Steven writes.  It’s real, but also reverent towards God.  He so obviously loves, honors and respects God, his parents, brother, wife and children.  Somehow, he manages to do so while being open and real about circumstances, choices and events.  Kind of like his music.  I appreciate Steven and Mary Beth’s deep and abiding faith that they cling to in the face tribulation, never more so than in tragedy.  It was heartening to read about the support of family, friends and professionals that came alongside them when needed most.  I applaud their commitment to their marriage and efforts to recognize that their spouse is not their enemy and that they fought for each other, not against.

While the hearts of a mother and father longs to see, their child healed and alive, the Chapman’s have allowed God to redeem their losses and impact others for good and for eternity.

If you’ve listened to Steven’s music, you can’t help but come away encouraged, strengthened and your faith built up as he drives a stake in the truth of Scripture.  It’s almost like reading one of David’s psalms.  He may start out low and in the depths of despair, but as he focuses on God, hope is restored and a light is found to illumine the next step.

I highly recommend Between Heaven and the Real World, especially if you are a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman’s music.  It’s encouraging to see someone’s faith proven genuine and real.  Even if you aren’t familiar with his music, I think you will benefit from reading this book.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell/Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky – Filled with Intrigue That May Keep You Up At Night

Some books are a pleasure to read and the review is easy to write.  That holds true for Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky with Cindy Coloma.

If you like intrigue, suspense and mystery look no further than Deep Undercover which tells true story of KGB spy Jack Barsky, or should I say Albrecht Dittrich.

I found this book fascinating and of particular interest was Albrecht’s early life.  He was born in 1949 in East Germany, following WWII.  As I read about his early years, I was struck by the contrast between growing up in his war-torn country and life here in the United States of America.

Have you even wondered how someone becomes a spy?  How are you trained to do the job?  What skillsets do you need to be a KGB operative?  What happens if you fail or if you change your mind?  Can a spy have any kind of a real life with a wife, children and friends?  Or is a spy destined to live a life of loneliness where no one really knows him?

Those questions and much more are answered in Deep Undercover which tells about the intriguing life of Jack Barsky.  While his life started much different than your typical American, and his career path took some twists and turns, this man came to love this country and the freedoms that regular everyday Americans have.  The freedom and capitalism that he once fought against, he came to embrace, even at the risk of losing his life.

At the end of the book, Jack explains how he came to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  I especially liked how he shared about God providentially weaving together the circumstances of his life which resulted in him coming to America and ultimately becoming a Christian.

Something I would like to clarify, the statement by Jack’s soon to be wife Shawna, “You are already a Christian; you just don’t know it.”, is not Scripturally accurate.  Jack may have been in the process of learning about Christ and she saw that his faith was growing, but accepting Christ is a purposeful decision.

I highly recommend Deep Undercover by Jack Barsky, it’s a fascinating book.  Be forewarned, this book may keep you up at night so you can find out what happens next.  If you like mysteries and intrigue, biographies, or you just like to know what makes a man tick, pickup Deep Undercover.  You won’t be disappointed.

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for the opportunity to read Deep Undercover for free.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig – Not My Cup of Tea

As a mystery lover, I was excited to read a mystery by an author, Caroline Fardig, who new to me.  After reading the description of her new book, Brew or Die, I decided to give it a try.

One of the descriptions, by USA Today, for this mystery is a “cozy mystery” which is defined as a crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed and it takes place in a small community.

If Brew or Die lined up with that description, I probably would have liked it.  Unfortunately, it was a lot different than I expected.

So, what’s not to like about Brew or Die?  The story opens with character Juliet Langley at work in the local coffeehouse, Java Jive.  The reader is introduced to a cast of characters that are in Jules life, including her current boyfriend, Stafford, who is a police officer, longtime friend Pete and her old boyfriend Ryder.  At first I thought this book would be clean.

But beginning on pages 12 & 13, started a trend of vulgarity which continued on throughout the book.  Profanity was used well over one-hundred times, perhaps much more.  It was to the point of distraction.  I don’t understand why authors resort to the use of profanity.

If I had picked up this book to read on my own, at the beginning of the profanity, I would have put it down and not finished it.  But because I agreed to read it for a review, I read the entire book and couldn’t wait to be done with it.

In addition to the excessive use of profanity, Juliet (Jules) seemed to be attracted to any male that had a pulse.  Thus, sexual immorality also included in the book.

Based on the profanity (used excessively), casual sexual and sexual immorality, I do not recommend this book.  Brew or Die by Caroline Fardig was a big disappointment and not my cup of tea.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the opportunity to read Brew or Die in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Control Girl by Shannon Popkin – A Painfully Good Book – It’s a Keeper

control-girl-by-shannon-popkinNot that I would like to admit that I’m controlling, but when I saw Shannon Popkin’s new book Control Girl – Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, I knew I wanted to read it.  Perhaps the Lord had something He wanted to me learn about being controlling.

How come it’s always easier to see a behavior, attitude or action as sinful and wrong in someone else’s life but be oblivious to it in my own life?  I guess in some respects I let my sin blind me to the reality that being a control freak is not good and may be downright sinful.  God used Control Girl to make me more aware of my sinful propensity to be controlling.

In this book, Shannon does an excellent job unveiling the tendency in some women to be controlling.  She does this by being open and transparent with her own life and shares the negative and hurtful consequences of being controlling.  More importantly, she takes the reader to examples from the Bible of real women, that lived in a different day and age, who also had inner control girl issues.  Through Scripture she shows examples from the lives of Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebakah, Leah, Rachel and Miriam on why and how our control girl may spring into action and how it effects our relationships.  Being a control freak may not be conducive to our own happiness and reflects and impacts our relationship with God.

This is an excellent book to help people who struggle with control issues to see it for what it is.  Being a controlling person is sinful and not something we should leave unexamined and unfettered.  But we can have victory when we repent, trust God and surrender control to Him.

I found this book to be painful as I recalled examples from my own life of being a control girl.  Things that as I look back on, make me want to cringe.  How in the world did I not see that as wrong back in the day?

Warning…you may find this book to be painful and direct in confronting sinful controlling tendencies.  But Shannon manages to it with tenderness and grace and from the vantage point of someone who has addressed the issue in her own life.  This is also an encouraging book to help us walk in a manner that honors and glorifies God, trust Him and help us to treat people with loving respect.

I highly recommend Control Girl.  If you think you have control issues, read this book.  If you have a loved one who struggles with control, you may want to read this book to better understand what may be going on beneath the surface that rears its ugly head as being controlling.  This book is a keeper, you may want to reread it and make notes as you go along.

I would like to thank the people at Litfuse and Kregel Publications for the opportunity to read Shannon Popkin’s new book Control Girl.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.