Friday, September 19, 2014

Hearts in Defiance By: Heather Blanton

I loved Hearts in Defiance. A Lady in Defiance is the first book in the series. You do not need to read it first in order to enjoy this one. Indians, Indian fights, saloons, this book has it all! Like an old fashioned western romance to read? This is it!

Charles McIntyre is cleaning up Defiance whether the Indians like it or not. Think your past will keep you from God? Look at his: a former pimp, saloon owner, and gunman. He will do anything to prove to Naomi Miller he isn’t the man he used to be, that God has made him a new creature in Him. Can she believe him? How about when his past comes calling? Can she trust him to not stray? He is now trying to bring legitimate businesses to Defiance, but how can he fight when someone is trying to set him up?

Hearts in Defiance is about Naomi and her sisters in Defiance falling in love with their men while taming the town. I laughed, cried, and cheered with these characters. I hated to say goodbye when the last page was turned. I am so hoping there is another book!

Naomi’s husband John died falling over a cliff. His twin brother Matthew then comes to town thinking he can take Naomi away. What will happen if Naomi doesn’t see through his charade and trades Charles for Matthew? Hannah Frink came to Defiance with Naomi when she found out she was pregnant and her boyfriend Billy would not stand with her. He chose his father’s fortune over here. Now he shows up in Defiance ready to win her back if she’ll have him. Rebecca is nearing forty and afraid to fall in love again. Her husband Ben and daughter Gracie were killed. Is it too late to find another who will make her heart rush and her pulse soar? Or has she found him already in Ian if she’d just open up and let love back in?

Where do these men stand with their women? You’ll have to pick up this book to find out. You’ll be glad you did. And with it being part of a series, you still can’t get enough of them. You’ll be wishing for more. Watch as the characters learn how to trust and hope in God, accept God’s love for themselves, and come to terms with their past. Charles thinks a lot about Paul who had, after one amazing encounter with Christ, lived a completely different life. He was a better man simply because of his relationship with Christ. As Ian states, “God has brought ye this far. He’ll finish what He’s started.” Wonderful book by a wonderful author. Can’t wait to read more!

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

The Ruby Float A Tale of Hope By: Rick Nau

I love this story by Rick Nau! Grandfather Jesse tells stories to his grandchildren Daph and Josh. Everyone will enjoy his stories that are about God’s faithfulness and love, told as adventures that depict the loving nature of God.

In this story, Jesse is telling his grandchildren the story of The Ruby Float. It is about Hank who tells his grandchildren Sam and Nate about building a raft and sailing. They also search for treasures. Hank’s wife Harriet gets sick and Hank doesn’t come to tell Sam and Nate stories. Sam and Nate are left to explore on their own. Sam finds a ruby float with a message inside, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Resurrection and the Life. Whosoever believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” With Harriet’s sickness, the children want to find out more about this man the Alpha and Omega, and how you can be dead but still live. They had never heard of him before. They use the information given to them by Hank to build a raft and follow where they think this float came from, an island out in the ocean.

Sam and Nate work together to get the raft to the island where they think these floats have come from. A storm comes upon them; they are shipwrecked. What will happen now? Can they find out about the floats and where they came from? Or more importantly, learn about this man they are seeking?

Embark on this adventurous journey to learn about the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Sam and Nate learn all about Him to take the message back to Hank and Harriet and to anyone who will listen. The message: that whoever believes in Christ shall never die. Hank and Harriet need the peace this message offers. Sam and Nate share the message with everyone who will listen.

I look forward to reading more of these stories by Rick Nau. They are simple enough for children to understand, but profound enough to hold the interest of adults. In each story I am drawn in to the characters and the message of God’s love and the true meaning of salvation, not by works, but by the grace of God. I love the cover of this as well. When you read the story you will see the significance. Sometimes I don’t understand how a cover was chosen. This one is perfect.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stop Acting Rich…And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire By: Thomas J Stanley

Happiness in life has little to do with what you wear, drive, eat, or drink. If you can’t afford to tip, don’t go eat where tipping is expected. That is part of the meal expense as well. Live below your means. Are you really rich or just acting rich? What makes a person rich? Cars, houses, eating at expensive restaurants, shopping at exclusive stores? You might be surprised by Stanley’s view of the rich. You need to be financially independent first. Live well below your means, by planning, saving and investing. Emulating the rich does not make you rich. Transform your income into wealth. Increased spending does not make you more satisfied with life.

I was not going to do a review on this book; however, I heard it stated that this book doesn’t tell you the tricks to be a millionaire. Did they not read the book? There is no trick to being a millionaire. It is hard work. You can do it whether you make a lot or a little. But it takes work, planning, and not living like you’d think a millionaire would live. People who make a lot of money can have it going back out in payments, buying an expensive house and things. People who don’t make a lot of money, but are saving and investing, have more money.

I liked this answer to what to say if you’re children ask why you do not supply them with the same collection of expensive consumer products as other kids in their school: never judge the true quality, the caliber of a person, by what can be purchased; often people who dress and drive as if they are rich, are not; and all that glitters is not gold (Shakespeare).

This book is about the differences between the spending habits of people who are really rich and the ones who want you to think they are. Millionaires typically live on 80% of their income and save and invest the rest. I was surprised to find that most shopped at Target, wore cheap watches, didn’t have a second home, or a boat. They drove an SUV, Toyota, or a Honda. The book also contains charts on what millionaires spend their money on, what their houses cost, and other items. If you’ve always assumed rich people spent all their money on things, you will be surprised by the research in this book that proves otherwise.

The Widower’s Second Chance By: Jessica Keller

This is book one in the Goose Harbor, Michigan, series. From the time Caleb Beck meets Paige Windom, he is fascinated with her. First of all, because she is burning her wedding dress, in the basement of the West Oaks Inn Bed-and-Breakfast, and then because she is unlike any woman he has ever met before. Can he let go of his fear to embrace a future with Paige; or will he let past events control him?

Paige is done with men controlling what she does and how she does it. She moves to Goose Harbor, Michigan, to start over. With a new teaching job, and volunteering at Sarah’s Home with the inner-city mentoring program, Paige has all she needs.

Caleb teaches science at the school where Paige now works. His wife Sarah died in an attack outside the home she founded for inner-city kids. When Paige shows up wanting to volunteer there, Caleb tells her she can’t. Why won’t she listen to reason? He knows it’s dangerous.

Caleb is broken by his past. He can’t forgive himself for the things that happened to people around him. He feels he should have protected them. Can Paige help him see he was not to blame? Can Caleb see that his trust needs to be in God? Will Paige learn the difference between control and caring? When you are broken and feel like all is lost, God is there always offering another chance. Even when you make mistakes, God is right there full of love with arms open wide.

The secondary characters were well thought out and brought additional life to the story. I would love to read more about the inner city kids and Amy, see how they are doing. Jessica Keller does a great job of bringing these characters and this town to life. Can’t wait to read more!

God is all about second chances. Caleb thought after his wife died, he would have to run around protecting everyone. Will he see that by doing that he is keeping them from growing? Paige is afraid of letting others control her because of her past experiences. Can she learn to trust Caleb so they can have a future together? Pick up this great book today about God’s love and how ever many second chances are needed to get it right, and enjoy Caleb and Paige’s story!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life Practical Ideas, Inspiring Stories By: Brad Formsma

Experience the joy of giving through the stories in this book. See how the ripple effect transforms the lives of the ones who give, to the ones who receive, to the ones beyond. This book spoke to my heart. How can I give? In any way I want to! It can be time, money, a listening ear, a banana cream pie, or sparkly fingernail polish.

Want more joy in your life? Give. Want to be healthier, happier? Give. What do you have to lose? A little bit of time, a little bit of money. Try it and see what happens. Brad Formsma is convinced once you try it, you won’t want to stop. Families, friends, communities, will feel the impact of giving.

Have you experienced a nudge to give someone a hug? To say a kind word to someone standing in line with you? To send food to an elderly neighbor? How about to give a few dollars to someone you don’t know? Sometimes that’s God’s way of using us to help someone. God knows what they need and He uses us to fulfill His will. And what do we get for giving? Joy, happiness, contentment. And when you least expect it, a little something back for being a giver. Try it and see. Have you ever met an angry and bitter generous person? You just might get to experience the joy of seeing the look of astonishment on someone else’s face.

Formsma fills this book with encouraging stories of giving, and receiving, gifts. Now that I’m finished reading the book, I can’t wait for my chance to do something for someone. Wonder who or what it will be? Go out and give today and let the adventure begin!

I received this book free from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review

Friday, September 12, 2014

Before Amen By: Max Lucado

Before Amen is a book about learning to pray. We don’t have time to pray, we don’t know what to say, we don’t know how to say it, and we wonder if God really listens when we pray. While reading this book, it was like Max Lucado was in my living room talking to me as I read. What a book!

I like to turn pages down, or highlight something to read again later. I would have highlighted the whole book. How do we address God when we pray? Father. That’s all we need. There are no secret words, no code words, just words from the heart. And you don’t even need to speak. God hears you. We all pray some, but to pray more, better, fire, faith, and fervency? Check out this book! Lucado does a great job breaking it all down and explaining how simple it really is. Believe God is who He is, trust Him with what you can’t handle, believe in His word, and watch God move.

Does your world change when you pray? Do your circumstances, regrets, past, change because you pray? No, but you are surrounded by peace when you turn it over to God. He can handle it. Just talk to Him. He is in control and will keep you safe.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 TLB)

This verse says it all. God’s peace. For you. Talk to God today and feel Him near. I love this book for the simple yet straightforward way to prayer.

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Pre-order @MaxLucado’s BEFORE AMEN and receive a FREE book. And, Enter to WIN an iPad!

Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. In Before Amen, best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts, and confidence even for prayer wimps. Let the conversation begin.

Be sure to enter the Before Amen iPad Mini giveaway. AND if you pre-order a copy of Before Amen by 9/29, you'll receive a FREE ebook copy of Max’s best-selling Second Chances: More Stories of Grace.

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini
  • Before Amen by Max Lucado
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 29th. Winner will be announced September 30th on the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 30th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to their blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Playing By Heart By: Anne Mateer

I loved this book by Anne Mateer. Set during the turn-of-the-century, Lula Bowman has continued on with her education, working toward her master’s degree in Mathematics. Everyone calls her Fruity Lu, except for her father who understands her. But when her brother-in-law dies, can Lula give all this up and come home to care for her sister and her children?

Lula comes home to care for her sister, Jewel. But she decides to only return long enough to help her back on her feet and then return to her graduate studies and teaching position. While she is helping her sister, Lula teaches music at the local school and takes on the coaching duties for the girls’ basketball team. She’s never played before, but how hard could it be? As Lula plays the piano for Sunday services, can she let the music calm her heart?

Chet Vaughn teaches math and coaches the boys’ basketball team. Every time a single lady comes to teach, she leaves married. He really hopes the next music teacher is an old lady and one that hasn’t set her cap for him. But he can’t refuse Lula’s request for help learning basketball, especially since she has offered to tutor his geometry students who are having a hard time grasping the concepts. How many different ways can you teach one subject?

Lula and Chet are searching for peace and love but they don’t know where to look for it. Principal Gray says God must have sent Lula to fill the teaching spot. How can that be when all she can do is count down the days till she returns to her studies? Chet’s brother went to fight in the war to take the place of their father who deserted. Chet’s mother thinks he is the coward for staying at home and not going to fight. He’s there to take care of her but she doesn’t see it. How can he have peace knowing what his mother thinks of him? Is this where God would have him be, helping the boys in town having a hard time?

Fighting against the stigma of the times, each fighting for what they believed in, can Lula and Chet see God working in their lives? Once you are where He has placed you, your heart is filled with peace and love. Will Lula and Chet find that for themselves, or will they continue on their own paths, forgoing what God has in mind for them? Pick up this great book today and read their stories. You will be encouraged and lifted up.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Theodora’s Children A Tale of Hope By: Rick Nau

I thoroughly enjoyed this story by Rick Nau! Theodora’s Children is a story about loss and forgiveness, filled with adventure, mystery, and lots of hope. Jesse is the grandfather and he is telling a tale to his great grandchildren Daph and Josh. Weaved into the adventurous tale is the hope of redemption and forgiveness.

Jesse tells the tale of a girl named Gretchen with a pony named Petey. All she wanted was a brother. Her parents can give her everything, except for a brother. She was very lonely. Her parents’ estate was about the size of a small country; the house like a palace with gardeners, servants, tutors, butlers, maids, and grooms. From the time she was five she requested a brother. She would tear into presents hoping this one request had been fulfilled, but to no avail. Right after her eleventh birthday, a surprise visitor comes to her window. Who has rescued her? Is it her imagined brother that she has named Tom?

On Gretchen’s adventures to learn who has recued her she follows clues on her pony to find where they have gone. She searches everywhere on her family’s estate, even through the deep, dark woods. When she finds who rescued her she ends up in another mystery to find out who should have received the letter, the gold coins, and the property. When she is called before the king to find out what happened, she learns about an invisible Father who cares about his children and who doesn’t want to see them suffer.

Theodora’s Children would be an excellent story for readers who like adventures, mysteries, and learning about God’s love in a way even a child can understand it. A king, lords and ladies, and a castle are part of the mystery as to find who the rightful people are. Pick up this story today for a great tale of redemption, love, hope, and faith. I look forward to reading other tales of hope from this author.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tried and True By: Mary Connealy

Kylie Wilde and her two sisters disguise themselves as boys to fight in the Civil War. Their brother was killed and their pa encourages them to do so. With the land exemptions they earned from fighting in the war, they set up homesteads. She is going to work her time, then sell her land and move back East where it is civilized.

Aaron Masterson is the land agent assigned to making sure the homesteads using the land exemptions are improving the land. When he sees Kylie, she is trying to fix her roof, in a skirt, and he rescues her from falling. He wants to then meet her brother. What is she to do? Kylie’s brothers (sisters) are better at building and repairing than she is. She is just biding her time till she can move back East. Can Aaron convince her they can make a life in the West?

Kylie really doesn’t feel like God wants her life to be spent in the West, in uncivilized territory, without even a proper bonnet shop or tea party to be found. She feels so far out she thinks even God wouldn’t be able to find her.

Aaron’s life is ruled by hate. He fought for the Union; his neighbors were killed and destroyed by the North and the South. When he comes back home the ones left run him off for his part in the Union fight. Kylie shows him there is no room for hate. He should love his enemies, and pray for those who persecute him. How can Aaron do that when his neighbors hated him and one even tried killing him for a war he had no control over? How do you get a new start? Only with God’s help can he release his hate and experience peace like never before.

Mary Connealy’s use of humor, God’s love and forgiveness, and people just being human makes for a wonderful story. I love the characters and can’t wait to read more about them. If you love great western historical Christian fiction you will love this book!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Beyond I Do By: Jennifer Slattery

The message in this book makes it a must read. Whether you’re already married or hope to be, do not miss this. Ainsley Meadows is ready to marry the man of her dreams. But is he really? It’s a predictable, safe relationship, but will that be enough for the years after she says I do?

Ainsley strives to do what God wants her to do. She goes to church, visits the sick and shut-ins, volunteers at a women’s shelter, but her fiancĂ© Richard Hollis, a psychiatrist, is more interested in marketing his new book. He figures he will keep her busy enough after marriage with social functions to cut down on her time to associate with such people.

Her neighbor, Chris Langley, just moved in. His mother is in an assisted living home. She has Alzheimer’s. He sold his lawyer practice and bought a coffee shop in order to be closer to his mother. God has given him a vision for the coffee shop. Will it come to pass? Or will it go under first?

Ainsley is terrified of ending up like her mother, jumping from relationship to relationship, job to job. Who does God want her to marry? I loved how this theme was handled in this book. As opposed to just jumping into a marriage without thinking about the repercussions, Ainsley is feeling unsettled and wondering where these feelings are coming from. She wants to pray about God’s will and know who He has picked out for her. Being a Christian and your fiancĂ© not, brings discord into their marriage from the beginning. He does not understand her desire to help others, go to church, volunteer her time. And when she voices these concerns, his response is to blame her childhood and the games her mother played for her indecisiveness about their upcoming marriage. When she questions his faith, he promises to go to church more. She is not convinced of his faith and salvation, however.

Beyond I Do is a great book for young adults on the verge of marriage. It lays out questions you should ask, concerns you should talk about, and getting the discussion of salvation and faith out in the open to be sure both parties are on the same page. A relationship with Jesus is a personal one. It is a real relationship. Are you hearing from Him? What is He telling you? Before making that big time commitment, make sure it is the one He wants for you. Blessings from God do not bring added trouble.

This line stayed with me after reading this book: “Christianity isn’t about doing anything. It’s about accepting what Jesus Christ has already done.” We can’t earn His grace; it is freely given. Pick up this book today for a great read. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hearts Stolen by Caryl McAdoo

I laughed, cried, cheered, and flinched with these characters. I hated saying goodbye and hope to read more about them. Hearts Stolen is a historical Christian fiction book, the second in the series. Vow Unbroken is the first, but you don’t need to read it first in order to enjoy Hearts Stolen. But now that I’ve read Hearts Stolen, I have to go back and read Vow Unbroken just because I’m not ready for the story to end. Be ready to start a story you won’t want to finish.

Rosaleen “Sassy” Fogelsong Nightengale’s husband Charles told her not to go visiting her mother. This is in the early 1800s in Texas. She didn’t listen and is kidnapped by Indians. Sassy is a wonderful character. She has smarts, isn’t afraid, and is a very likeable heroine. Her faith in God kept her through her captivity of 5 years, until one day Levi Baylor shows up to rescue her and her child.

Charley Nightengale is Sassy’s son born soon after she is captured by the Indians while she was the third wife to Bold Eagle. He is a fun character. After Levi rescues them and they travel back to Texas, Charley’s dialogues and ways of thinking had me laughing. I’d love to see this as a movie. He’d steal the show.

Levi Baylor is a Texas Ranger. As he and his fellow Ranger Wallace Lusk transport Sassy and the other women back home, it is fun being along for the ride. You feel like you are really there. Levi and Sassy are great characters together and you are rooting for them to get together, but she is still married to Charles. What will happen when he delivers her home? Will Charles still want her after she’d been the wife of an Indian? How will she now fit into society? A fellow captive, Laura, has her baby after they rescue her. Wallace is enraptured. But is that love strong enough when he finally meets Levi’s cousin Rebecca? Will these two end up together, or will his cousin come between them?

What happens with God in the mix? I loved this angle of the story. The hearts of these men are so great, and the love for their women so strong, they’ll go through anything to keep them safe.

All the characters have to learn they have their pasts and none of them are perfect. But with God, peace and love reign no matter what you are going through. Peace like one of Sassy’s Granny’s heavy quilts. Now that’s peace! I thoroughly enjoyed this story by Caryl McAdoo and can’t wait to read more. The dialogue is engaging, the characters are unforgettable, the setting and descriptions move the story along without taking away from the story.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.