30 Red Dresses by Johan Twiss ~ Review

30 Red Dresses pic

30 Red Dresses by Johan Twiss

When James’ book agent told him he should take a book signing tour of Asia, he could not imagine the adventures ahead of him in Cambodia. So what was he doing, trudging down a road trailing a troupe of 30 girls in red dresses?

Veata lived with her uncle until her eighth birthday. But on that fatal day, his greed overcame any feelings of filial love, and he sold her into sex slavery. The only time she had ever seen her uncle smile was when he was clutching the roll of bills as we walked away from her.

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In a flurry of accidental happenings, a strong storm, James, his translator and Veata along with 29 other girls in a brothel cross paths. All their lives changed. This is a fast paced story, wringing out all our emotions as this rag tag group struggles to gain their freedom and escape alive.

My heart aches for all the girls and boys in this trade. I was so touched by the personal story of little Veata and her “giant”. Johan Twiss has created a credible story that touched me deeply, without going into gory details.

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That is the purpose of this short story. It should help open our eyes to the frailty of life, the privileges of freedom of choice and what it might be like if our ability to live free from danger was forcefully taken away from us. And this human trafficking is not a blemish in foreign countries alone. Even your own town may be affected. I pray we all open our eyes and fight this horrible industry on all fronts.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook through AXP Books Elite and the author. I reviewed this book voluntarily. 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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The Elephant’s Christmas by Paula Rose Michelson ~ Review

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The Elephant’s Christmas by Paula Rose Michelson

What does an old arthritic bull dog named Muggsy, a perfume representative, a life threatening surgery and subsequent miraculous recovery, a Candy Cane Lane, an elephant, and butterflies all have in common? They are all part of this intriguing memoir penned by author Paula Rose Michelson.

If you are busy with all the seasonal preparations we often get ourselves involved in during the cluster of Holidays in the winter, don’t be overly concerned about reading a lengthy, dry memoir. This one pops with high interest stories, expressed in a variety of ways from short fiction to reminiscences. Some of these stories should be in a Chicken Soup for Christmas, if there is one. And it is only twelve chapters long. Each chapter is easily read in a short time.

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One of the chapters is written from another person’s point of view, nearly a piece of fiction of its own. Still another is actually a work of fiction with a surprising reference to a favorite children’s classic. Overall, I was delighted at the variety of stories in this short book. This is not your typical memoir. It was originally intended for family and close friends. I am happy that she decided to gift this work to us as well.

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My favorite chapter is about Butterfly Grove. I won’t spoil the fun of discovery, but having some experience with the wonder of butterflies with my own family made this chapter special. It gave me those “warm fuzzies” all over again. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from 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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God is Really, Really Real by Jeff Davenport ~ Review

God is Really, Really Real pic

God is Really, Really Real by Jeff Davenport

God is Really, Really Real is a children’s picture book. But it is also so much more. First, if you are a parent of young children, this book contains 30 simple lessons of truth taught in the Bible. The ones selected are foundational to most Christians. So it is a curriculum of a sorts. There are even a couple simple review questions on each lesson page.

Second, because of the rampant illiteracy about the Bible and biblical topics, this can serve as a simple outline for a person sharing the Gospel with someone who knows nothing about it. At the end of the 30 lessons, there is a glossary that lists multiple Bible verses about each lesson. The book is small, and it is handy to have all this information in one place.

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Third, it’s also a great launch pad for a series of personal devotions, especially since there are numerous Bible verses included for each lesson. You could cover one Lesson per week. Then divide up the Bible verses to study and meditate over the next 7 days. You could even do this with older children who are more independent and able to conduct their own Bible study.

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I love this book. The simplicity of what are called doctrines is what draws me. It leaves out the controversy of Biblical information that God has not fully revealed to us and instead, keeps the truths simple and beginner friendly. I know that if I had small children or grandchildren, this would be a must for me to purchase. I just might buy one anyway, because this is a good source for sharing 30 of the most basic beliefs a Christian should know about and understand.

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Finally, I like this book because it is creation oriented. It has always been important for me that we share with our children a literal viewpoint of the way God made us. It gives us purpose, and the knowledge that God loved us so much that He made our environment pleasant, beautiful and balanced right from the beginning. A person who knows they are loved, lives loved.

 

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Goodbyes and Second Chances by T.I. Lowe ~ Review

Goodbyes and Second Chances pic

Goodbyes and Second Chances: Book 1 by T.I. Lowe

Life can throw us some pretty nasty curves. Some of it may be deserved, but some, and perhaps most, is not. Take, for example, people born into wealth, and people born into poverty and all the gradations in between. How do we deal with this? It depends on our perceptions. And that is what this tale is all about. Think of it as a modern day parable. For the modern part, rock stars and a rock band. The parable? Trailer trash stigma. What can we learn from them? Read and see.

Jillian has known Dillan since she was eight and he was six. Before that, even. They grew up in the same neighborhood with other friends that eventually formed a strong group that had each others’ backs. They all lived in the trailer park. They knew what that meant: stigma. They lived on the “other side of the lake.” Across the lake were the wealthy condos and homes. Would life even give them a chance?

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Dillon grew up with insane talents on several instruments and a smooth silky voice. He was a poet at heart and often wrote his own lyrics. His mother was fierce in her efforts to save him from a reputation as trailer trash. So by the time he was sixteen, he had found an opportunity to make it big in the music world. But to do that, he would have to leave his dearest friends behind, including his jewel, Jillian. He promised he would come back for her. She didn’t believe him. No one came back.

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The author has done a great job portraying the funny moments within the group of friends who lived in each others’ pockets. She includes their struggles, how close this group grew together, and how Jillian fit in as a sort of mom. It made me think of Peter Pan, Wendy and the Lost Boys. There were sad times, sweet moments, victories and failures. Be sure to bring along some tissues, as there were many poignant moments.

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The funniest and most tragic happenings in the story involved Maverick King. His story becomes the focus of book two in this series. He was part of Dillon’s rock band from the beginning. If you enjoy this book, you’ll certainly want to get book two which is told from Mave’s point of view. Overall, Goodbyes and Second Chances has several flawed characters, which we see change and grow up before our eyes. The author has done a great job making the reader feel as if they were part of this close-knit group.

 

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4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss ~ Review

4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss

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What would you do if you were paralyzed from the tip of your head all the way down to your toes? What if your doctor says you are brain dead, yet you hear and understand everything he says? This is the foundation of the story, 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace  by Johan Twiss. At first, this story did not turn out the way I had expected. But that soon became unimportant, because I was enthralled with what I was reading.

In spite of the very serious nature of the premise, this is really a book that takes a flight of fantasy in its execution. A twelve-year-old boy, Aaron, becomes paralyzed after being exposed to a rare virus which paralyzes him from head to toe. Very few people know he is even aware of his surroundings, which are bleak, and the activity around him. He recognizes his nurses, parents and doctors by their smells as they approach his bed. The story picks up two years into his “incarceration”, as he calls it, in a nursing home for acute care. By this time he has coped by creating a mind palace where he retreats regularly to act out actions and adventures his mind creates. This is where the story takes an unexpected twist. He gains a roommate.

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Solomon Felsher was a senior citizen with episodes of dementia. But when this former jazz player slipped into those dementia dreams, Aaron was mysteriously pulled into them and he experienced those events along with a much younger Solomon. It’s the variety and action in these events, based on true events in history during Solomon’s lifetime, that makes this such an interesting book to read.

My guess is that the target audience would be young people, perhaps young teens; especially for boys. But the way the book is written, with a touch of fantasy and possibly even a bit of steampunk, it is universally appealing. I know I really enjoyed reading it. I don’t recall ever reading anything even remotely like this story. I give the author an A for creativity. It was fascinating.

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Once I got involved in the plot, I found it difficult to put the book down. The variety of events was intriguing. There are other dynamics that makes this book interesting. A change in Aaron is inevitable, but have no worries. It’s all for the good, and there is actually a happy ending for the book.

I realize this book does not have a Christian theme, which is usually what I place on this blog. But it was such a good book, actually a great piece of literature, that I wanted to share this with my friends. And there were lessons in this story that are consistent with the Bible whether it claims to or not. I love a variety of genres, and this one, a variety of fantasy, historical fiction, and possibly steampunk, just fits the type of book I love to read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Now go tell a friend about it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook through AXP Books Elite and the author. I reviewed this book voluntarily. 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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Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada’s House Trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall ~ Review

Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada’s House Trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall

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This is the trilogy, Ada’s House, that includes three full-length novels: The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace. I have already written reviews of each book separately, so this book review is only about a few things about the bound trilogy.

Review for Book One

Review for Book Two

Review for Book Three

When it comes to binding three full length books into one volume, I feel a little ambivalent. On one hand, it’s convenient to have all three books in one volume. No searching, no hunting for a missing book. I like the convenience. On the other hand, it makes for a large, heavy book to hold up to read. Since I have carpal tunnel in one hand, it was uncomfortable if sitting up in a comfortable chair. It was not a problem sitting at a table. What I was given was a soft bound book, but it was still heavy. However, eventually, the spine broke and the book split in half. My given preference would be to have three separate volumes.

For an overview: The story begins with someone living outside the Amish communities that eventually come into focus for these books. We follow Cara’s story all throughout the three books. In a great twist of events, she discovers she was supposed to grow up in the Amish community of Dry Lake with her relatives. But instead, she ended up in foster care. She falls in love with Ephraim, makes friends in the community, and over the course of the three books struggles with personal issues to join the Old Order Amish community whole-heartedly to marry him.

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All the books are beautifully written, filled with people I came to care for, and full of great dynamic characterization. I cared for the people in these stories. I disliked the villains, felt fear with the ones in pain, triumphant with overcomers, and rejoiced with the marriages of friends. It was nearly like taking a journey with close companions. I would heartily recommend this trilogy. Just choose buying the three books separately and forgo the huge book of all three bound together.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing). 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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The Harvest of Grace: Book 3 by Cindy Woodsmall ~ Review

The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall

Harvest of Grace pic

 The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall is the third book of a three book series: Ada’s House. This trilogy reminded me how much I enjoy books by this author. Ms. Woodsmall creates tales with emotional dynamics that pulls me in, keeps me reading intently without wanting to put down the book, and connect with the well-developed characters so that I feel I have a vested interest in the outcomes.

The author begins this book with a new character, Sylvia. She is an Amish woman from a community further away from the communities this series focuses on. In her household, there are all daughters, with Sylvia being the oldest. She alone loves the dairy farming, and with the knowledge she gained from her grandfather, has built up her father’s herds over the many years. She has been engaged to be married for awhile, but suddenly her fiance declares his love for her sister and marries her. Living in the same household has become unbearable both because of her heartbreak and the deception of her closest friend and sister. She insists on moving to another community. She begins working for Michael Blank and his wife in Dry Lake.

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There, she meets Aaron Blank after he has come home from rehab. Aaron’s purpose is to help his aging parents sell their dairy farm and move to his new community and work with him at a hardware store he is buying. He wants to take care of them. Sylvia’s at cross purposes with Aaron, because she wants to make the Blank dairy farm profitable again and build up the herd as she had done at home. This conflict is the core of the book.

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But as the third book in the series, other storylines that had begun in books one and two continue as well. So we find Deborah and Jonathan in a relationship, Cara and Ephraim continue their courtship and Cara makes progress toward joining the Amish faith, while Lena recovers from her emotional and physical injuries from the events of the previous book.

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Again, like all the other books in this series, this is not a stand alone book. It is integral to the entire storyline and you need to read the first two books in order to understand the direction and scope. Saying this, I found this book hard to put down. It very effectively wraps up all the loose ends of all the relationship dynamics covered in the three books. There are even new dynamics for Cara when her birth father shows up and the Amish leaders decide she must develop a relationship with him in spite of her feelings about him. This struggle so touched my heart. How can Cara overcome a lifetime of neglect and abandonment?

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If you enjoy living, breathing characters, especially relationship struggles and their resolutions, then you’ll love this story. This author does not do pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by type story telling. Her characters deal with real issues you and I can relate to. I was left feeling like I was part of the community, knowing the hearts of people I care about. The author writes this development so well, that I am compelled to read other books by her. I want more of this type of dynamic writing. And you can be sure I will be reading this trilogy over and over again, without feeling as if it were growing old. I highly recommend this series, and this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing). 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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