Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin – A Real Gem and Lovely Read

One of my favorite things is when I find a book that I love by an author whose work is new to me.  I found a gem in Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin.  I absolutely loved this book, from the moment I first started reading it.  I haven’t read a lot of Amish themed novels, but there was something about storyline that caught my attention.

Mary Katherine Ropp is a sixty-year-old widow and her last daughter is getting married.  Most in the community would have her living with one of her married children and helping to raise her grandchildren.  But Mary Katherine isn’t like most Amish women.  She’s little bit spunky, independent, she likes to read, write stories and even dares to dream about opening a book store with her English friend Dottie.  Also, part of the community is Ezekiel Miller who has been widowed for many years.  In spite of grief, he kept family going through his business the Purpose Martin Café.  Both Mary Katherine and Ezekiel can’t imagine getting married again so late in life, especially since they had wonderful marriages.  But Ezekiel can imagine hiring another cook to help at the restaurant.  In to the storyline steps the not so skilled, but very hungry burglar, Burke McMillan, who has a late-night encounter with Mary Katherine.

What I loved best about this book were the characters.  They were very likable people that I would enjoy knowing.  Mary Katherine was my favorite and I loved her ongoing conversations with her husband Moses.  I loved Ezekiel’s tender caring heart, tender for Mary Katherine, open to help and give a new start to a stranger, loving to his grandchildren, especially Kenneth.  Burke is a man of mystery.  Is he just a down on his luck kind of guy, is he the thief that’s been plaguing the Amish community or is something more going on with him?

Kelly Irvin is a wonderful writer.  She knows how to make characters interesting and very likeable, even in plain every day ordinary life.  She gives insight into the characters and what they are going through at this stage in their lives.  The Amish community setting is interesting but doesn’t overwhelm the story, instead it’s the background and reveals how these characters live their lives.  I could identify with many of the feelings that Mary Katherine was expressing.

The one person, I wasn’t too keen on was her son Thomas because he was so disrespectful to his mother.  I would think as a Christian, he would have tried to honor his mother, but instead he treated her more like a child who has misbehaved.

I loved Through the Autumn Air by Kelly Irvin and I look forward to reading more of her books.  I highly recommend this story, it was lovely!  I read this book during a very difficult time in my life and I found it to be a very comforting place to escape to for a while.

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan Publishers for the opportunity to read Through the Autumn Air in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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In All things by Melissa B Kruger – An Excellent Bible Study!

When breaking for summer, my Bible study teacher recommended Melissa Kruger’s Bible study, In All Things, a study in the book of Philippians.

Because of that recommendation I was interested in reading In All Things and I’m so glad that I did.  I love finding solid Bible teachers so that I can use their books to stay in God’s Word when my regular Bible study breaks for summer.

In All Things, is an excellent Bible study.  Melissa teaches readers to learn a book of the Bible.  Each chapter is broken down in to five days and it includes studying the text to determine: Observation – What does the text say, Interpretation – What does the text mean, and Application – How does the text transform me.  Each chapter concludes with a devotional based on the text that was studied.

Melissa goes through the book of Philippians verse by verse.  She encourages people to read through the complete text multiple times so that you get very familiar with it.  Each day you will be reading the specific text you are studying.  The questions that are asked help the reader to pull out the facts of what the Apostle Paul wrote and help you unpack the text.  What does it say, what does it mean and how should I apply it to my life?

To help better understand the passage, Melissa may have the reader look up other Scripture verses that may correspond to what’s studied.  She uses Scripture to help interpret Scripture.  You learn to study Scripture within context.

This study is mature, Christ centered and helps the student to develop godly wisdom and discernment.  Melissa asks some hard, but true and necessary questions.  She is open, transparent and has a godly humility.

I encourage anyone looking for a good solid Bible study to read and work through In All Things by Melissa Kruger.  You will come away with a good understanding of Philippians.  You will have developed some good Bible study techniques and know how to study the Bible, verse by verse and in context.

This Bible study would be good resource for a personal or group study or even a formal women’s Bible study at church.

I would like to thank Edelweiss and Multnomah Publishing for the opportunity to read In All Things by Melissa Kruger in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.  I am looking forward to going through this study in future.

 

 

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble – Implausible

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble is the second book I’ve read by this author.  What drew me to the book was the setting along the coastline of Washington, the mystery of what happened to the missing sister, a little romance with some home renovation mixed in.  I wanted to like this book more than I actually did.

The story is about two sisters Ellie and Mackenzie Blackmore, one of whom is missing and presumed dead.  She leaves behind a mystery of a life that wasn’t what it seemed.  Thrown into the mix is Grayson Bradshaw, an investigator for the US Coast Guard, who is looking into a missing shipment of illegal drugs that has ties to a terrorist.  One of the prime suspects is Mackenzie and that news doesn’t sit too well with Ellie who just wants to find her sister.

What I liked about The House at Saltwater Point:

  • Grayson was very honest, forthright, nice and likeable.
  • I kind of liked his relationship with Ellie, but they went from an adversarial relationship to romance and I wasn’t quite sure how they crossed that bridge.
  • I liked the subplot of Grayson finding out that he was adopted and had biological sister and family whom he knew nothing about.
  • I enjoyed the setting of Lavender Tides, the description of the town, the townspeople and friends, waterfront, beaches and scenery.
  • I liked the home renovation career of Ellie.

What I wasn’t too keen on:

  • The storyline was rather convoluted and had too many subplots going on.
  • The story and characters weren’t very realistic. Especially, the two small town sisters trying thwart a terrorist attack.  There were times that the sisters did a better job than the FBI and Coast Guard in trying to stop the terrorists.  There sure didn’t seem to much of a police presence considering the seriousness of what was going on.
  • Early on in the book Ellie takes in a helpless small kitten. Periodically, the kitten would be mentioned but for the most part it wasn’t part of the story.  I found it distracting.  That part of the story was unnecessary and didn’t contribute to the storyline.
  • At times the story seemed the drag.
  • The characters weren’t very realistic. My favorite was Grayson, a very nice man…but he was a little too perfect.

Colleen is really good at setting a scene and describing the place and helping the reader see it in their mind.  However, the storyline was not plausible and the characters weren’t deep or realistic…much of it was very surface level.  I think that’s where it lost me, I didn’t connect with the characters.

If you just want to read a mystery to escape for a while you may enjoy The House at Saltwater Point.

Colleen Coble is a Christian author, but there nothing much about faith included in this book.  It’s clean, no profanity and or sexual immorality, and I appreciate that.  But nothing much regarding faith and characters talking about God or praying or faith being lived out in their everyday lives.

I wanted to like The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble.  There were parts I did enjoy, but I think the implausible storyline and lack of depth the characters were too much to overcome.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity to read The House at Saltwater Point for free in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton – A Simple Treasure

One of my favorite things is finding new authors whose books I love.  I found a wonderful book and author when I read Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton.  Wow…loved this book!

The storyline is what first caught my eye.  A couple, Betsy and Ty, own a dairy farm in Alabama and they are always busy with the day to day operations of the farm.  In recent years they’ve struggled with infertility and it’s taken it’s toll on Betsy and Ty’s relationship.  Entering into the equation is Jenna when she suddenly springs a surprise on her sister, watching her two young children, while she heads off to Florida to work on photography as part of a mentorship program.  It’s something she’s longed to get back into for years.  The threat of a hurricane may not be the only storm brewing on the horizon.

Hurricane Season was simple, yet deep.  It was beautiful but dealt with the difficult and hard things of life.  It showed the beautiful and extraordinary things about ordinary lives.  I loved the characters, their relationships and looking back at what’s shaped them.  I loved the beauty of the farm and the retreat in Florida, captured so beautifully by the author.  The characters were decent good people who I would want to know.  There were some profound thoughts and observations shared throughout the book that made me think about my own life.

I loved reading Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton and I look forward to reading her future books.  I want to go back and read her first book, The Hideaway.  I would describe Lauren as a safe writer.  What I mean by that is that she takes the time to develop a story and lets the readers get to know the characters.  She doesn’t manipulate the storyline and characters don’t make stupid thoughtless decisions, just to advance the story or grab the reader’s attention.  Lauren knows how to make the ordinary both interesting and beautiful.

It’s with pleasure I highly recommend Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton.  I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity to read Hurricane Season in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Church in Babylon Study Guide by Erwin W Lutzer – A Timely Reminder and Call to Be Prepared

In a world that seems to be fast spinning out of control, we unfortunately see some churches and people who believe they are Christians that seem to have no moorings to which they are anchored.  We live in perilous times, especially for churches that do not hold fast and firm to the foundational truths taught in Scripture.

Pastor Erwin Lutzer has written a new book and study guide, The Church in Babylon.  Its message is timely and will hopefully spark a study in God’s Word that will encourage believes to know what God says and choose to live in light of truth found in Scripture.

Topics include Finding God in Enemy Territory, Keeping the Faith in a Hostile Work Environment, Courage to Confront a Deadly Enemy, Calling out the Lies of the Culture, and Prayerless Pulpits, Satisfied Saints and Spiritual Blindness.

The Church in Babylon is thought provoking.  The study guide includes some good questions for people to examine their knowledge of Scripture and compare it secular culture’s views.  I appreciate that Pastor Lutzer is uncompromising to the truth that God gave us in the Bible and that he reinforces his arguments with Scripture.  More and more the church will face pressure and disapproval from a culture that is guided by feelings, not facts.  Pastor Lutzer doesn’t shy away from controversial topics that are affecting our culture and making their way into our churches.

Until I started reading the book, I didn’t realize it was just the study guide for The Church in Babylon.  Even as study guide, it was very good.  I’m sure I would like the book even more.

I recommend Erwin Lutzer’s new book and study guide, The Church in Babylon.  I would like to thank Moody Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Church in Babylon Study Guide in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

The Church in Babylon by Erwin Lutzer will be published August 7, 2018.

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley – Do you like a good whodunnit?

The whodunnit storyline of Justice Betrayed by author Patricia Bradley is what caught my attention.  This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I didn’t know what to expect.  I’m not an Elvis fan and I’ve never been to Memphis, but I love a good mystery, filled with intrigue and the challenge of solving a cold case.

Detective Rachel Sloan is asked in by Vic Vegas, an Elvis tribute artist, to help solve a murder mystery from seventeen years ago that may somehow be related to her own mother’s murder.  At first, Rachel’s not too sure about this, after all it’s a cold case and she’s working in the homicide division.  But after Vic turns up dead she wonders if there may be something more to the case he wanted her to investigate.

It took a few chapters before I got interested in the story.  The story started out kind of slow and there were a lot of characters introduced early on and it was hard to keep track of them.  But I’m glad that I kept on reading because before long the story picked up pace and I was hooked.

I liked the characters, especially the relationship between Rachel and Boone, and enjoyed the mysteries and trying to figure out whodunnit.  Patricia did a good job giving the reader a feel for what Memphis may be like and the fascination with Elvis that continues to this day.

I appreciated that Justice Betrayed doesn’t contain profanity and immoral sexual situations.  There wasn’t a lot of the Christian faith in this book, a Scripture verse and Rachel acknowledging that she had stopped turning to God because her prayers for justice seemed to be unanswered.  I would have liked to seen more of the Christian faith woven into some of the characters and storyline.

If you like a good mystery, that will keep you guessing to the end, read Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley.  I look forward to reading her other books.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Falling for You by Becky Wade – Romance with a little mystery mixed in

I first discovered Becky Wade’s writing in her book True to You, which I loved.  That’s why I was excited to see Becky’s second book in the Bradford Sisters Romance, Falling for You.

What I found in Falling for You was a return to the town of Merryweather, a place I’d like to visit, with characters I liked from Becky’s earlier book, True to You.  In this book Willow, the oldest Bradford sister, takes center stage with her ex-beau Corbin.  The rest of the Bradford family and friends, including Nora and Britt, are back but mostly in the background of this story.

I enjoyed the backdrop of the story, as 12-year-old Charlotte enlists of Willow and Corbin to help solve a 40-year-old family mystery of Josephine who went missing back on 1977 and was never heard from again.  Would Willow and Corbin be able to set aside their differences to help Charlotte find out what happened to her great aunt?  Would they be able to reconcile after a painful and ugly breakup?  Had either of them changed over the last four years?

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to Willow a famous supermodel and Corbin a former pro-football player.  Their careers and lifestyle were much bigger than life or ordinary people.  I found that their emotional pain and coming to terms with their poor choices were something I could relate to.

Becky included the Christian faith, somewhat.  I think it could have been more strongly woven in to the characters and storyline.  Something I would have appreciated is to have Willow, as a Christian, recognize her past choice to have sex outside of marriage as sin instead of saying it was a mistake.  While a mistake may have consequences, calling something sin acknowledges it as wrong before God.

I liked the mystery part of Falling for You best, as well as the reconciliations between characters, forgiveness and seeing how the characters had grown and changed.  Overall, I give this book at 3.5 rating.  While I liked the storyline, I didn’t connect to the characters as much as I did in True to You.

If you like a romance with some mystery mixed in you may enjoy Falling for You by Becky Wade.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read Falling for You by Becky Wade in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.