A Light on the Hill (Cities of Refuge Book 1) by Connilyn Cossette ~ Review

A Light on the Hill pic

A Light on the Hill (Cities of Refuge Book 1) by Connilyn Cossette

Have you ever wondered how the Hebrews coming out of Egypt experienced the takeover of the populated area of Canaan? No, I’m not referring to the bloody battles, but to the families who settled into the land, coaxed the fields to life, set up businesses, and made their living while trying to settle into a land unlike anything they had experienced so far. Unlike the desert terrain and fertile river banks of Egypt, and the semi-desert areas of the wilderness they spent the past 40 years in, this new land was lush and green. How did they accomplish this? They were surrounded by hostile people supported by the Egyptian government who didn’t take kindly to their invasion. What was it like? That is what this book is all about. This was the era of Joshua, fulfilling God’s command to fill the land. This author paints a realistic picture of what this could have been like through the eyes of young Moriyah, her best friend Ora, and her young 9-year-old neighbor Eitan.

This book is incredible. I think I have discovered a new author (for me) of Biblical fiction that delves into details with enthusiasm and accuracy. She has written several series so far that I haven’t read yet. But I love her writing style, the detail she includes, the imagination that puts flesh on the bare bones of sometimes dry history. With this book, I discovered new perspectives I hadn’t considered before. This book was truly a living experience. I actually felt I was there. I will be certain to pick up her other series and read them, I’m that impressed.

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Besides being a piece of historical fiction, this book is filled with action and suspense. Moriyah has been accused of killing two young teens. She must flee to a city set aside by God as a sanctuary for people to plea for a fair trial. The next of kin has the right to avenge the deaths of the boys without retribution. Along the way, the boys’ father prevents them getting to the nearest safe city, so the group traveling with Moriyah must go to the next city, which will take them through dangerous territory controlled by the Canaanites. There are many dangers to face along the way. Additionally, there is an element of romance during their travels. But because of the accusations against her, Moriyah despairs of a future for her and Derek.

The characters are likable, real, and easily related to. I would call the group traveling together highly colorful. I could barely put the book down because of all the twists and turns in the plot. I even enjoyed reading the book a second time. It was just as fresh as reading it the first time through.

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There are also some wonderfully contemplative moments where Moriyah learns more about the God of Israel whom she thought had abandoned her earlier in her life. The book contains some beautiful word pictures of the grace of God as she learns how He provided grace and mercy to his people. I highly recommend this book. This is the first book in a new series. I am certainly looking forward to reading the rest of the books that follow.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California: Abby’s Prospects by Janice Thompson ~ Review

My heart belongs in San Francisco pic

My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California: Abby’s Prospects by Janice Thompson

My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California joins the collection of Barbour Publishing’s series that celebrates historical beginnings in America. This book explores the era of the California Gold Rush, the ’49ers, and the roots of San Francisco, the boiling pot of the West. This book places you right there in the middle of all the action from the viewpoint of a young woman from England.

Abigail Effingham was not a typical person traveling out West in the 1850’s. For one, while she was not traveling alone by train, wagon train and coach, she was accompanied by her household’s butler. Her objective was to meet up with her mother in the Oregon Territories where her mother was visiting her sister. Abigail missed her and wanted her to return home to Philadelphia, a city they were well settled after their immigration from England. This trip gave Abby a close-up look at all the frontier had to offer, including the flooding that diverted their path away from Oregon. With a new found determination, Abby decided against Neville’s advice to return to Philadelphia, but to visit San Francisco to wait until the flooding receded in the Spring and her mother could come to her. She couldn’t realize how much this side trip would change her life’s course.

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The people in the hayday of San Francisco were uncivilized, thrill-seeking and out to find their fortunes. Some of them were optimistic, starry-eyed with hope of striking it rich. But if they stayed too long, they often became jaded, swindled, crushed, and hard-drinking gamblers. They were not what Abby was used to. But soon, she inevitably discovered ways to influence a few of them, and being a young person herself, began to improve what was around her. Eventually a young man, Sam (good old reliable Sam), became her protector in more ways than she understood. They developed a strong friendship while she and Neville stayed at the Inn owned by his father. Sam’s family housekeeper, who traveled to California with them years before, became the cook at the Inn. Her food was legendary and she was popular all throughout the city.

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What I enjoyed so much was the complete makeover of the young lady we know as Abigail, to the self-sufficient woman that emerged as Abby. Her world was turned upside down. We get to watch the sometimes comical change-up as she learned to pluck chickens, make cherry pies, wash dishes and wait tables for the first time in her pampered life.

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Another valuable part of Abby’s life was her integrity and strong will. That included her spiritual life. She knew what she believed and why she believed that way, yet she never viewed herself as better than anyone else. She made friends with those who were like minded and they encouraged each other in their faith. She was always willing to consider a different viewpoint and learn new things, especially learning about God’s character. That part of one of my favorite sections of the book and the best part of the character development that is done so well. If you like historical fiction from a woman’s point of view, then you are sure to enjoy this book.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the Barbour Publishing as a member of the Review Crew. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Skells: Midtown Blue Series Book three by F.P. Lione ~ Review

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Skells: Midtown Blue Series, Book Three by F.P. Lione

This is the third book in the Midtown Blue series by the writing team of Frank and Pam Lione. The Crossroads follows The Deuce which is focused on Tony and Joe, partners with the NYPD. The events pick up right after the first book where Tony Cavalucci finds the Lord and begins to grow in his faith. This book, Skells, picks up after Crossroads. Tony and Joe are still partners, covering the area of Midtown Manhattan. This is Tony’s eleventh year as a New York City cop.

Because of the authors’ experiences in New York City with the NYPD and downtown missions, this book is filled with meticulous detail on the daily life of the New York City cops. We get a good sense of what it takes to do this job from day to day. This book gets a little more involved in Tony’s personal life as he is engaged to his fiance, Michele, and they are planning their wedding. Like the other books, Tony has difficulties with his dysfunctional family. But he and his intended are navigating the murky waters fairly well. They are learning to be a couple.

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You also get to learn a little of the job of being a policeman through the relationships the men and women have on the “inside.” Tony is no longer struggling with his alcoholism, so we can enjoy the day to day relationships and follow a few individuals in the force more closely. What I like best is that all this is portrayed realistically, no drama, just events. The individuals found on the streets are entertainment enough without made up drama to increase angst. Tony is developing a sense of mission that he never had before for the people he works. He even loses some of his callous feelings toward them and tries so see them from their perspective. It’s a refreshing change from other books in this genre.

This book is not churchy or preachy. But we get the sense that Tony is finally coming into his own as a Christian. He no longer relies on his partner to reach out to people in need. He’s no longer awkward in talking about the Lord when he senses they need a helping hand. He cares. That means a lot when reading this book. Tony is also becoming a family man. He loves Michele’s son as if he were his own. The three of them are beginning to feel like a family, which fills the empty place he has had in his life for many years. While he has loved his grandmother, father, mother and sister, they don’t experience the closeness of family he has always noticed in other peoples’ lives.

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I highly recommend this entire series. You don’t have to love the genre to appreciate all the aspects of this kind of life. The relationships in this particular book are well woven, building up to satisfying friendships, and spiritual maturity. This is a series that I would read over and over.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from CKN Christian Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

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My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade ~ Review

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

My Stubborn Heart pic

My Stubborn Heart is one of the sweetest romances I have read in a long time. Two hurting individuals meet while renovating an old home in the reclusive town of Redbud, Pennsylvania. Kate Donovan and her grandmother had arrived to renovate Gran’s childhood home, Chapel Bluff, and return it to its old glory. It was a massive job, requiring them to hire a local contractor for the work. That’s where Matt Jarreau came in. He specialized in working on old homes and restoring them.

Kate’s first impression of Matt was that of tragedy. He had a heart-breaking story filled with sadness and bitterness. She could sense it. Matt was reclusive. He preferred working alone. He didn’t socialize much. People in the small town knew who he was but left him alone. Matt was the local celebrity. He had been a world champion hockey player. He had married a sweet girl, an actual Miss America, but after being on top of the world as a married couple, his wife died of cancer. He was so ripped up about it, he left hockey behind. Kate didn’t know this at first, but she could see that he needed a friend. She was determined to be that friend.

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Kate lived in Dallas. She was a social worker. The job was demanding, but she loved it. That is, she did until one of her children she had worked closely with had committed suicide. It sucked the joy out of her life. She needed a break so that she could get her head on straight about her purpose in life. So she joined her grandmother in a journey up north to remodel Gran’s old childhood home. The break was just what she needed. She loved antiques and old homes and this was just the therapy she needed. She joined Matt daily in taking down wallpaper, designing rooms, painting walls, and so on. Matt was reluctant to work with her, but she was persistent. Keeping everything on a friendly note, she knew God had a purpose for her to be there.

I love the simplicity of the story. It’s not overly complicated. There are a few other subplots, but the story stays true to the major theme–renovation. Not just the home, but Matt’s heart as well. It took a lot of time and patience, but eventually he started to warm up to her friendship. Kate didn’t try for anything deeper than that. She had already set her heart on not reading anything personal in their relationship. She felt that God had sent her for only one thing…to bring Matt’s heart alive again.

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The part of the story I like best is the relationship Kate has with God. She prays and listens to Him. She tries hard not to insert her own personal interests in what she thinks God wants her to do. I really like her humble spirit and teachability. So many of us struggle with these character qualities. I felt encouraged in my own prayer life just by watching how Kate kept her expectations in line with what she felt God wanted her to do. Many of us try to do that, but often fail if we don’t use the Bible as a guideline. We often want to read into situations things that aren’t there because we fail to know and understand the God of the Bible as it teaches us. Kate demonstrated a good balance between knowledge and personal application. The author accomplished this in such a natural manner. There was no awkwardness, no preachiness, no finger wagging, no guilt trips. The issue of faith in God was not overtalked or forced. This was truly an enjoyable book to read.

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Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace by Kim Phuc Phan Thi ~ Review

Fire Road pic

Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey by Kim Phuc Phan Thi

The picture on the cover of this book is iconic. I was in high school when that picture came out on the covers of many popular magazines. It stimulated a great deal of conversation and debate. It put teeth on protest that was popular in that time period. I’m pretty certain more than a few tears were shed on behalf of these children in the picture. The horrors of war became only too real. And of course, we talked about it in school. We talked about Napalm, chemical warfare, and the realities of how people treat people in times of war. It was the era of civil unrest. Civil liberties were the most common topic of conversation. And who knows how much conversation that picture stimulated, how much heartache over conflicts was shared and finally understood by such a graphic reminder. I know it had an impact on my sensibilities. When I again saw this picture on the cover of Kim Phuc’s book, I felt it in my heart. I knew that picture.

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Another book was written about the girl in the picture. It was mostly about the Vietnam civil war. While the author did a remarkable job explaining the situation behind the picture, she missed the personal story, which has finally come out in Kim Phuc’s new release, “Fire Road.” This book is about Kim’s personal journey, not just how she came to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting hit by a Napalm bomb (lain down by her own countrymen in anticipation of invading armies), of her recovery from burns over most of her body. Recovery was almost non-existent. Her journey is still ongoing in that respect, and she currently lives in pain with a few moments of respite from time to time. It is additionally about her spiritual journey. It seems as if her entire life was spent seeking peace of some sort. Peace from torment and pain; peace inside her soul from the anger of unfair circumstances, peace from disappointment in her doctors and parents and siblings and political leaders, just to name a few people in her life who failed her in her expectations.

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This was a difficult book for me to read. It began with an 8-year-old-girl living a happy typical life among her family members. It didn’t stay peaceful and idyllic for long. She described the horrors of being burned alive. She was rejected for treatment and placed in a morgue and left to die. That was where her parents found her in their desperate search for her. Treatment was a long painful experience. She received third and fourth degree burns all over her body. Sometimes the treatments were as painful as the burns. When she was finally allowed to go home, her town of Trang Bang was decimated and the home only a skeleton of its old self.

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Kim’s growing up years was filled with disturbing changes as the country grew as a communist nation. She managed to get through her teen years much as anyone else who is a teen but with the intense desires of a person who needed more assurances of love and acceptance because of her burns and scars. Pain constantly plagued her and she was convinced no one would ever want to marry her because of the disfigurement. But that wasn’t the worst of her situation. The government discovered her. She became a propaganda tool. They interviewed her constantly, changed her story so that she was declared disfigured by Americans who bombed her country. They pulled her out of classes continually to make appearances she could not refuse. And when she began college, she could not finish because of her many absenses. To make a long story shorter, she finally ended up in Cuba to attend college. From there she managed to defect to Canada in a set of fantastic circumstances. And it was in Canada when the best part of her story continued. She finally found the peace she was so long in searching for.

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The entire story is intriguing. I could barely put the book down in my desire to find out what happened next. Kim’s story is compelling, and finally complete. I feel as if we have come full circle with events that began in the early ’70’s and finally concluded to a satisfactory degree in the present. But more important than her early disastrous circumstances is the message she has felt called to continue. How do you forgive such horrendous events? How do you forgive those responsible for such horrors? How do you forgive those who took advantage of her? How do you find peace that transcends everything? That’s why Kim wrote this book. She wanted to tell the world how she finally found peace in the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Preventing Cancer: Cancer factors, cancer fighting foods and how the three spices–turmeric, ginger and garlic can reduce cancer risk. Includes recipes. by Joseph Veebe ~ Review

Preventing Cancer by Joseph Veebe

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Since high school science classes, food science has always fascinated me. Since then, I have learned that most people have a disconnect when it comes to applying this science to their daily nutrition. In fact, when you come to think of it, what mechanic does not know how the fuel works in any type of vehicle they are required to work with? Yet, when you look at the curriculum of most physicians today, they receive only a few hours of nutritional information. If you search old textbooks on physical health the information is all there, and it’s accurate. Today’s research studies have not changed the information we all received in our elementary and high school curriculi, they have added to it, refined it, fine-tuned it, amplified it. They have learned even better today what works and how it works. Putting good fuel in our bodies should be our first line of defense against any illness.

So why are people all over the world getting so sick? Well, people are working so hard to make money manufacturing things for us to eat with a long shelf life that we are replacing the fuel for our bodies that nature provides with substitutes with little or no nutritional value. And fortification does not work! We need the whole food, not parts of foods, or artificial nutrients, to get what one doctor calls the entourage effect. A mechanic knows that if you put in bad fuel into your vehicle, it won’t run correctly. In fact, it could do much damage at great cost to the owner. This happens to people. So I have decided to change the way I eat to include more nutrition that will heal the body from whole foods. Then I saw this book, which is about 3 specific foods many nutrition scientists call “super foods”–garlic, ginger and turmeric. Super foods are foods, nuts, seeds, spices or herbs that contain extra concentrations of nutrients with great health benefits. We need to consume some type of superfood each day.

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The author, Joseph Veebe, introduces us to ginger, garlic and turmeric as both healthy foods and agents that help to fight cancer. In this book, he discusses these superfoods with a little bit of history, some specific information about the spices and how they have been used in the past and how they are used today.

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One of the main purposes of this book is to inform the reader about the factors of cancer that can increase our risk of getting it. He then links several superfoods and their cancer fighting properties. All this information is consistent with the research I have been doing for many years. I saw nothing that stuck out as outrageous or unrealistic. At no time does he make claims to cure cancer. Instead, his book encourages us to increase the intake of foods that have cancer fighting properties. In Chapter 5, the author talks specifically about the cancer fighting properties of ginger, garlic and turmeric. None of the information was new to me. I have seen this information around for nearly 40 years now. Unfortunately, it’s not as common knowledge as it should be. I appreciate the aspect that all this information is gathered together in one place where it is easy to refer to when needed.

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Finally, the author wraps up his book with explanations how to use turmeric, ginger and garlic as food and spices. He includes tea in his list of ways to use these superfoods, and then concludes with a large listing of recipes for us to try. He writes that most of the recipes are simple, used in several cultures historically and regularly, and average about 20 minutes in preparation. I noticed while perusing these recipes that he includes teas, smoothies, entrees, stir fries, curries, and much more.

This is a book I can well recommend. The information in it is not new, but well organized and tersely written to keep up interest. At the end of the book he lists references in case the reader cares to continue to study the information introduced. It is not intended to be an exhaustive reference itself, but a helpful handbook to help you get started using these often times overlooked superfoods. I intend to use several of the recipes myself. I am already familiar with several of the teas mentioned, and especially look forward to making a couple of the smoothies.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from LibraryThing on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Marital Advice to my Grandson, Joel: How to be a husband your wife won’t throw out of the window in the middle of the night by Peter Davidson ~ Review

Marital Advice to my grandson, Joel pic

Marital Advice to my Grandson, Joel by Peter Davidson

This book was written by a grandfather with a terrific sense of humor to his grandson about how to stay happy in marriage. It is a personal advice column from one guy to another, that can be taken with a grain of salt, although filled with many sage pieces of advice that my own grandpa may have expressed to his grandchildren many years ago.

This book is a departure from my usual review because of its secular nature. It is filled with swear words and philosophies I don’t usually promote. Please understand that I enjoy a good book of this nature from time to time even if I don’t agree to all parts of the point of view. There is enough good material in the book that I am willing to overlook some of the superficial irreverence that dresses up the approach to the subject matter. The underlying theme is basically respect for your spouse in spite of their idiosyncrasies. That is the part of the book I recommend to you the most.

Much of the book is straight from the heart, spoken from experience and seasoned with satirical humor and a touch of sarcasm. The secular view is flavored with slight irreverence, drawn from experience in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The language is salty but not over-the-top crude. This book is filled with humor that’s sure to tickle your funnybone. I enjoyed reading the many witty remarks regarding marriage, even while disagreeing with some of the stereotypes. While I may not agree with his viewpoint all the time, it is filled with common sense truisms most of us should know with just the right amount of twist to it that makes reading this book so enjoyable.

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What I liked most about this book is the laugh out loud moments while reading through the author’s marriage tips. Mr. Davidson takes the stance of the clueless guy dealing with the female who cannot be completely understood. The section about the 13 magical words is my favorite part, because regardless of your viewpoint on marriage relationships, this is common sense courtesy that works in any type of relationship.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this commentary from the author via LinkedIn. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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