A Father’s Broken Heart: 8-Year-Old Gracie & The Save A Soul Prayer Team Book 1 by Paula-Rose ~ Review

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A Father’s Broken Heart: 8-Year-Old Gracie & the Save A Soul Prayer Team Book 1 by Paula-Rose

Paula Rose Michelson is an author I have read for the past couple of years. She has written books in a variety of genres including thriller-suspense, memoir, non-fiction and a series of Christian romance historical fiction. This children’s book is a new genre for her; in my opinion, she has finally come into the genre that should be her niche. She knows children and puts this knowledge and heart to pen in these books. I am looking forward to reading more in this new series.

Paula-Rose’s book about 8-year-old Gracie and the Save A Soul Prayer Team is a breath of fresh air. Most children’s books I have read in this age bracket are sweet, but a bit too fluffy. There is barely a theme, much less a purpose. Paula-Rose writes terrific stories with plenty of action that keeps children’s interest. In addition, the characters in the story learn about God’s personality and His ways without sounding like a Sunday School lesson. In this story, Gracie’s heart is touched when a friend’s family moves away. She wants to be a part of bringing the family together again.

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Some people may object that children are just not like Gracie, and they will not relate to the characters. I disagree with that. In the years past when I taught school, whether secular or Christian, there were always a few within each class that stood out as having an especially sensitive heart. In their own way, they inspired others they met, even in the classroom. Gracie has a tender heart and is always willing to do something to help others. It’s this heart that makes this story, and consequently the entire series, so wonderfully enjoyable. If I were a parent or grandparent, I would definitely buy this book for the children.

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

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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

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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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Amish Cooking Class: The Celebration by Wanda E. Brunstetter ~ Review

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Amish Cooking Class: The Celebration by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Celebration is the third book in the Amish Cooking Class series. While it is part of a series, I don’t think anyone would have trouble reading this as a stand alone book. There are only a few carry over characters from the other books and their parts are casual and not really needed to make the story line smooth.

Heidi and Lyle Troyer have decided to take in foster children when they discover they may never be able to have children of their own. So now the story picks up from the second book a few months later with two young children whose parents were killed in an automobile accident. For the first six months, the state decided to wait and see if family will come forward to claim responsibility for the two children, Randy and Marsha. In the meantime, Heidi wanted to help her young charges adjust to their new life. She decides to teach another cooking class, but with children this time. A wide variety of families are represented in this class, and little by little we learn a bit of back history for each family.

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Many topics pertaining to children were covered in this book, such as showing kindness to others, teasing, a complaining attitude, adoption as a topic, the value of friendship, reaching out to help someone in dire circumstances, caring for pets and other animals, and so on. And of course, cooking. What I enjoy most about these books is the subtle ways Heidi is able to reach out and help total strangers in their struggles with daily life. Most of us want to make a difference in someone’s life, but we often have no idea how to go about doing this. Ms. Brunstetter’s books demonstrate through fiction good examples of how to touch lives. We don’t have to make a major impact, but even an encouraging word can work wonders for a person on any particular day. The fact that this is a lesson even children can learn, is what makes this such a touching book to read.

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The author does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the drama with the children and their respective families. There were times when I felt the frustration Heidi must have felt when she couldn’t do much to help a hurting child. At other times, I felt the aggravation when a child is deliberately rude and misbehaving, especially to the younger children. I could relate to the helpless feeling some of the parents felt in their circumstances, to the point where I shed a few tears when things went so wrong. Then again, there were also tears of celebration when finally something came together and worked out well, either for a family or for their children or both. If you enjoy a good Amish story, or a bit of family saga with a little romance, then I highly recommend this book to you.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Barbour 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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Ties That Bind: The Amish of Summer Grove Book 1 by Cindy Woodsmall ~ Review

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Ties That Bind: The Amish of Summer Grove Book 1 by Cindy Woodsmall

On the surface, Ariana’s Amish family was typical for their small community of Summer Grove. Many siblings, in their teens or older milled about the kitchen in the early mornings getting ready for a full day of activities either with small children in tow or assisting those families with small children. Some like Ariana were preparing breakfast and others were getting ready to do chores. A contentedness pervaded the atmosphere most of the time. They enjoyed each others’ company. But under the many layers of familiarity lay some rumblings of discontent. No one spoke openly about these feelings, but they were there nonetheless. It was a vague awareness that something disruptive could dispel their peace at any moment and change the entire family dynamics. What would be the trigger?

This is the first of three parts in the series. It features an unexpected twist of fortune that seems plausible, and possibly even probable. There are many great and positive things in this family saga, such as relationship building that I absolutely love. However, it seems inevitable that tension builds and two worlds collide with Ariana’s good friend caught up in the middle. Don’t expect a major resolution of the primary tension by the end of this first book, because it builds and leads directly into the next book. You definitely need to prepare to read the second book right away because of the high amount of suspense and heart break. This was so well written, that I was feeling with the Brenneman family when circumstances broke wide open.

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It’s getting to the point where I will read any book by this author because they are that good. Ms. Woodsmall puts her entire heart into what she writes. What she creates is impactful, both heart warming and heart wrenching, view shifting, and absolutely real. She’s a writer that knows how to pull heartstrings with what she writes. In this particular series, she plays on misunderstandings that come between close friends when one party must keep secrets for the sake of confidentiality. The secret he must keep makes Quill look bad in the eyes of the Amish. Such is the misunderstanding that it rocks Ariana’s world because she has lost trust in her good friend. And other circumstances are wearing her trust in others very thin.

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My favorite part of the book centers again around Ariana. She is stubborn and that persistence is what helps her family keep their heads above turbulent waters. She is determined to buy a cafe in downtown Summer Grove so that she can lift her family out of the poverty they have been in for years. She works hard and finally succeeds beyond even her expectations. I couldn’t help but root for her efforts to do something so thoughtful for her family.

 

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Jabez by Joy Ohagwu ~ Review

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Jabez by Joy Ohagwu

The book Jabez fits into the AFTER series written by Joy Ohagwu. Book 1 tells the story of Candace and JB Patrickson. That book is an inspirational romance. Once Candace and JB are married, he then feels confident enough to tell his life story to her. So this book is the story he tells Candace on the way to their honeymoon. That would make this book 2, although I think of it more as book 1.5. It could be easily incorporated into book 1 as part of JB’s back story.

When Jabez was ten, he was well used to the drunken rages his father would get into. He had a hiding place, and his mother had a hiding place. It was not enough to keep them safe, however, and eventually Jabez was beaten senseless and woke up in the hospital. Things only got worse from there when his father returned to their home. No one else knew the situation they were in. His father owned a reputable construction company and seemed like a straight up guy to everyone else. But JB and his mother often went entire days without a meal. His father had to control everything. When JB was old enough to work for his father, he was expected to work in construction and live at home.

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One day, he and his mother found a safe place across the street to hide. They slept in the pews at night in the church to avoid getting beaten. Then he met Pastor Yohanna who began to help them in subtle ways. He encouraged Jabez to find his own path and became a role model for him. For the first time in his life, Jabez saw a father figure the way it was supposed to be. He began to attend church and special meetings the pastor set up for a few other young people who had challenges in their lives that blocked their successful entry into the world. His transformation was not an overnight success. It was a huge struggle far into JB’s adult life.

This author writes in an understanding manner about the impact of abuse this type of experience has on a growing child and on an emerging adult. When a person has heard their entire young life they will not amount to anything good, they tend to believe what they hear, even though their minds can tell them otherwise. Parents are the first authority figure a child experiences, and what they are told is often taken for the truth. It’s extremely difficult to shake off that first voice in spite of good influences in their lives afterward. The author does a great job showing us what this type of struggle to overcome abusive programming is like.

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It was the faith of the Pastor that leads him to step out of his comfortable place to lend an understanding ear and a shoulder to lean on for the young people in JB’s group. And it was faith in Jesus Christ that finally brought JB over the edge from abusive thinking to victorious thinking. This could be so many peoples’ stories. I pray that this short novella helps many people to understand how difficult it is to shake abusive influences, but that it is possible.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review 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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