About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now promote literacy by reading, and then writing reviews. I love to support authors by sharing my reviews with others!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Odd(ly) Enough: Standing Out When the World Begs You To Fit InOdd(ly) Enough: Standing Out When the World Begs You To Fit In by Carolanne Miljavac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book isn't always easy to read but it relates a story that is sadly more prevalent than we know. Author Carolanne Miljavac is very open about the trauma that she suffered as a child and she is honest in the ways that she chose to overcome these abuses. I was so moved by the sexual advances that she was forced to endure and I grieved for the young girl who thought of herself as a victim. She suffered an identity crisis and at nine years old, she thought that she was weird and different; she felt guilty and ashamed. She even considered herself "unworthy of joy because joy had always been stolen from me" (p. 30). These feelings led her to experiment with alcohol and drugs when she was older. She also experienced embarrassment because of her family's financial situation. Her father left the family and only appeared sporadically and her mother struggled to care for Carolanne and her two siblings. She relates times when her mother was forced to remove food from the shopping cart, one item at a time, item by item, because she didn't have the money to buy it all.

Yes, this is a sad story but it is also a story of redemption and of Miljavac finally finding herself worthy of joy. She now knows that God made her to be just who she is and that he had a purpose for her. Odd(ly) Enough is meant to encourage, uplift and motivate and Carolanne Miljavac uses humor and humility to to achieve her goal.

I would certainly recommend this book because the mindset of today's society is so centered on people fitting in. The enemy (Satan) wants to steal away our knowledge of who we really are. This book proves that it is okay to be odd and Odd(ly) Enough, this is what God intended!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Williamsburg ChristmasA Williamsburg Christmas by Anne Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We often hear stories about high school sweethearts who drift apart, end up marrying other people and then find each other again in later years. This is what happened to Holly Belle Silver and Trent Conway. Trent's well-to-do family convinced him that he needed a wife more socially prominent than Holly and he caved in to their pressure, leaving Holly with a broken heart. Two years later she found love again with another man and enjoyed a happy life with her husband and twin sons until the unthinkable happened and her husband died suddenly. Hoping to create a new life, she has recently moved with her sons to historical Williamsburg. It is there that she encounters Trent again and he is very eager to revive their relationship from ten years ago. Can she dare to trust him again? Would her heart be able to survive another heartbreak? And how does a confirmed bachelor deal with eight-year-old twin boys? In one telling conversation, Trent tells Holly "Let's call you being here a new beginning. I've gained some wisdom in the last ten years. I've learned what's important in life". (p. 45)

Anne Greene has a way of writing stories that capture our imaginations and tug at our heartstrings and she knows how to add the perfect details for the settings and time periods that she chooses. A Williamsburg Christmas is set in 1955 and she mentions spaghetti straps and nylons held up by garter belts. I was five in 1955 but I remember both of these well. As a teenager I visited Williamsburg but her descriptive talents make me eager to see it during the holidays. Beautiful shops, colorful street decorations, and the Christmas music blaring from speakers all paint a festive Christmas season. She even mentions some of the food served and shares the recipes for Applesauce Bread Pudding and Colonial Molasses Cookies. Yum! I am eager to make them for my family!!

A Williamsburg Christmas is a short novella that is the perfect length for people who are about to get busy preparing for their own Christmas holiday. It is an enjoyable story and once again Anne Greene shares a sweet romance between people who love God and want to serve Him. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys Christian fiction and Christmas stories.

I received a complimentary copy from the author but I voluntarily chose to write this review. I was not compensated for offering my opinions.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shelter of the Most High (Cities of Refuge, #2)Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shelter of the Most High proves once again that Connilyn Cossette was destined to write biblical fiction! In this second book of the Cities of Refuge series she gives us the chance to learn more about the young adopted son of Moriyah who was featured in the first book, 'A Light on the Hill'. Eleven years have passed and Eitan is now a grown man who wants to join the Hebrew army. Since he still faces danger and must remain in the refuge city of Kadesh he finds that his service must be limited to using his blacksmithing skills to supply the weapons needed to fight the enemy. And then, the life that Eitan has come to know is changed forever when the daughter of a pagan high priest arrives in Kadesh with her cousin after their escape from the men who murdered their entire family on the island of Sicily. Sofea doesn't understand the language spoken in Kadesh and she certainly doesn't understand why she isn't immediately made a slave of the people living there. She is also astounded that she is shown such kindness from strangers because she had often been treated cruelly by her own father. As Sofea observes their way of life she realizes that the Hebrews appear to worship a very special God and she wants to learn more about this God who has prompted such devotion. Just who is this God that they love and worship; who is this God who returns their love and seems always willing to protect and forgive? Sofea needs to understand this God that these people lovingly call Yahweh!

The Cities of Refuge are briefly mentioned in Joshua 20 in the Old Testament but this biblically-based fictitious account gives us a better understanding of the purpose of a city of refuge and the advantage and disadvantage of living there. This story has deceit, treachery, and a murder plot but it is also a love story. As Eitan and Sofea work to uncover the traitor they discover just how special they have become to each other and they struggle to preserve their new-found love. And then, Cossette shares the ultimate love story, the love between God and His children, and we witness how a young woman who had only known the worship of pagan Gods finds her way to worshipping the One True God. In one beautiful excerpt, Sofea realizes that "not only did Eitan love me in spite of everything, but the journey to understanding that I was inexplicably valued by the One Who Made the Stars had been worth every painful step." (p. 291)

This is a powerful story and it seems obvious that the author devoted a lot of time to researching and developing this project. I recommend Shelter of the Most High to anyone who enjoys biblical fiction and I look forward to the next book in this series.

I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher but I voluntarily chose to write this review. These are my honest opinions.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

The Christmas Remedy (An Amish Christmas Romance)The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Christmas Remedy touches on two subjects that are both unusual in today's culture. Holly Noelle Zook is a young Amish woman who has been granted special permission from the Amish bishop to work at a small-town pharmacy and attend LPN classes because she realizes that members of her Amish community need to practice preventative medicine and to seek medical attention when they need it. Greene's Pharmacy is a rarity because of the "big box store" pharmacies that are now a large part of our society and owner Lyle Greene is determined to keep it as it has always been. He has made it his goal to personally know his clientele, to continually offer honest service with sound medical advice and he especially wants to earn the trust of the Amish community.

When Mr. Greene suffers a sudden illness a series of events occur that could cause his pharmacy to close. An act of sabotage brought on by greed and revenge suggests that illegal practices have been performed and there is the mystery of who is responsible. Mr. Greene's son returns to help but the strained relationship between he and his father only seems to deepen, even as the close relationship between Mr. Greene and Holly flourishes even more. These circumstances remind us that family love and devotion are not solely determined by being related by blood.

Authors Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall were able to draw me into this story of a young Amish woman torn between the rules of her Amish culture and her overpowering desire to help her people. They also showed how families can drift apart until it appears there can be no reconciliation. The Christmas Remedy is labeled as an Amish Christmas romance and there are actually two possible romances featured. Holly must decide if she should continue to put her work ahead of any personal life with Joshua Smucker and there is the hint of a relationship between two other characters. I would love for there to be a sequel so that these story lines could be further developed. This is an enjoyable book and I recommend it to all who enjoy Amish fiction and Christian romance.

I received an ARC of this book from Waterbrook Publishers and voluntarily wrote this review. These are my honest opinions.

@waterbrookmultnomah #PRHpartner

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Monday, October 15, 2018

The Cumberland Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower #5)The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is 1794 and Karl Gruener has decided to move his family from Tennessee to Kentucky and he has asked Indian scout Thomas Bledsoe to be their guide. What follows is a journey filled with hardships, danger, and excitement as Bledsoe leads the Gruener family in their trip along The Wilderness Road. They have been forced to leave most of their belongings behind and they are faced daily with the possibility of being attacked by the Shawnee Indians. Kate Gruener is one of the young women on this journey and she is especially eager to learn more about Kentucky and about scout Thomas Bledsoe. It eventually becomes apparent that he is very aware of Kate also and then the unthinkable happens! Thomas and Kate are take captive by the Shawnee Indians, Thomas escapes but it is uncertain if Kate will ever be able to return to her family.

I loved this new historical fiction book by Shannon McNear and it is very clear that she has put a lot of time and effort into researching this time period. I felt as if I was seeing this unsettled land with all of its plants and wildlife and I was thrilled to see the mentions of the early settlements of Lexington, Danville and Boonsesborough. They are all a part of this story and these places are still a part of my home state of Kentucky. I enjoyed seeing Kate's sweet interest in Thomas from their first meeting and wondered just when he would notice her. Thomas had always declared his intention to stay away from a romantic attachment because he didn't want to cause a woman worry and grief if he should ever fail to return from his journeys. It is only when Kate is in such danger that Thomas recalls these words spoken by his sister Truth. "One of these days, you're going to meet a girl, get so attached to her that you won't want to be without her." (p. 163) Suddenly, Thomas realizes just how true these words were!

The Cumberland Bride is filled with historical facts and the reminder of just how strong these early settlers were, just how much faith they possessed and how deeply they relied on prayer. It is also a romance that features moments that take your breath away. This is the fifth book in the The Daughters of the Mayflower series but it can be read as a stand-alone book. I recommend it to all who enjoy Christian romance and historical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sweet Home Montana (Charity, Montana Book 3)Sweet Home Montana by Lynne Marshall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can really picture this book becoming a movie on the Hallmark channel. There is the pretty, compassionate girl who offers troubled people help and hope through an equestrian therapy program, a handsome man who reluctantly agrees to spend a few months with a younger half-brother he barely knows and a troubled teenager who initially balks at receiving attention from his half-brother. Include a teenage crush on this pretty but older therapist with the older brother's interest in the same woman and you know that trouble is guaranteed. Add the two adults who both have been hurt by past relationships, stir in their undeniable attraction for each other and you have the perfect recipe for a wonderful romance until.... the older brother puts his feelings on hold so that his relationship with his brother isn't jeopardized. Suddenly, nothing is easy and the road to romance and happiness becomes filled with many bumps along the way and perhaps a dead end!

I truly enjoyed watching Erin and Wade progress from friendship to something more. Wade's initial reluctance to be with his half-brother was the result of his own parent's divorce and it was heartwarming to watch the relationship between Wade and Brent evolve. Author Lynne Marshall has an amazing talent of creating characters who are likeable and believable, she puts them in situations that are intriguing but realistic and places them in settings that make you want to visit. Sweet Home Montana is a romantic, feel-good story and it may make you wish that Charity, Montana was your own home sweet home!

I received a complimentary digital copy but a positive review wasn't required. These are my honest opinions.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Imagine. . .The Fall of JerichoImagine. . .The Fall of Jericho by Matt Koceich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Imagine series and it succeeds in both entertaining and educating young readers. Imagine...The Fall of Jericho relates the story of 12 year old Jake Henry as he finds himself transported from a summer camp in North Carolina to the ancient site of Jericho during the six days before The Battle of Jericho in 1400 BC. Jake is feeling alone and without friends and he doesn't want to be at camp. Imagine how he feels taking a nap in current day North Carolina and waking up surrounded by massive stone walls and among people that clearly are from a different era. Jake remembers the Biblical story of Joshua and the march around Jericho and he knows that these stone walls will soon come tumbling down. He knows that ancient Jericho will be destroyed and its people will perish. Jake begins to experience an amazing adventure that is fantasy based on Biblical truths.

I believe that young readers will enjoy this story that has mystery, action, and adventure while touching on some of the feelings that young people often experience. Jake feels alone but he also believes that God has a purpose for placing him in this place at this time. He realizes that he is needed and this is a good message for any age group!

I applaud the author for writing another book that is perfect for the targeted age group of 8-12 year olds. The text is easy to understand and its 109 pages make it just the right length for this audience. It is also apparent that author Matt Koceich is knowledgeable in both Biblical history and in present day culture because he cleverly compares one of his characters to John Cena, the popular wrestler who is currently popular with young people!

I myself enjoyed reading this story and I found myself referring back to Joshua 6:1-27 to refresh my memory of this special event. I will gladly recommend The Fall of Jericho to my eight year old nephew.

I received a complimentary copy from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to write a review.

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Grave PerilGrave Peril by Mary Alford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The beauty of this book cover caught my attention immediately and then, in the very first sentence of chapter one, I saw the word Louisville. Could it be Louisville, Kentucky? It was and my interest in this new book by Mary Alford became even stronger. Grave Peril is the story of Jamie Hendricks, a public defense lawyer who is met with an unending nightmare when she returns to her childhood home in Darlan, Kentucky. Her uncle is missing and there is the hint that drug trafficking has invaded the area. Heroin apparently has the county of Darlan in a stronghold and the local sheriff's office appears to be involved in these illegal activities. Suddenly, Jamie realizes that the only person that she can trust is Gavin Dalton, the man that she loved but lost when her father was convicted of killing his father.

Murder--Drugs--Crooked Cops--Southern Mafia. Author Mary Alford has created a story filled with twists, turns, adventure, danger and a mystery that has consumed Jamie's life for the past ten years. It is also the story of a love that never really died and two people who possess a deep faith in God and a strong belief in prayer. There are many times when it appears that they have no hope of survival but Gavin and Jamie continue to trust that God is with them. In one instance, after Jamie has prayed, she is immediately comforted because "With the prayer, a sense of peace slipped deep inside her. God was in control. He wouldn't let the them die; she truly believed that."

Grave Peril is an exciting story and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian romantic suspense.

I received a digital copy of this book but my review is voluntary and these opinions are my own.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Marked by Love: A Dare to Walk Away from Judgment and HypocrisyMarked by Love: It's the Only Thing That Matters by Tim Stevens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Tim Stevens has written a book that challenges us to take a hard look at ourselves and decide if we are truly living up to the name of Christian. Are we loving as God loves and are we displaying Jesus Christ in our thoughts, our speech and our actions? Are we good examples and are are we truly marked by love?
Marked By Love: A Dare to Walk Away from Judgment and Hypocrisy has thirty-one chapters with attention grabbing titles, such as Heart Surgery in a Cornfield---I Don't Want to Be Called a Christian---Stop Talking and Start Loving---The Day a Punk Taught Me About Love and finally, It's the Only Thing That Matters. It is filled with statements that may rub you the wrong way because they remind us of the true definition of following Jesus. "A person who is marked by love looks for ways to serve others and will stand against racism and stereotypes. A person who is marked by love is convinced to her core that Jesus died because of His love for all and that each human being is as precious in His eyes as the next." (p.133)
This is a book that deserves being marked in itself because it is filled with statements that need to be highlighted and referred to over and over again. Marked By Love is an excellent book that I will read more than once.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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