Unspoken

Dee Henderson’s book Unspoken is the story of an abduction survivor and the man who’s slowly falling in love with her.  It’s written to follow Full Disclosure, although it can be read as a stand-alone as well.

The book took me a little while to get into.  I felt like there were too many pieces I was trying to hold in my head without being able to set them into the puzzle…just too much I couldn’t make sense of.  However, as opposed to some of Henderson’s earlier writing, the message of the book was blended in well, and the conversations felt like they were an integral part of the people’s lives, not just tacked on to fit someone’s agenda.

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

My Hope is Found

With My Hope Is Found, Joanne Bischof finishes off her Cadence of Grace trilogy.  The book begins with one man trying to file for an annulment and a woman trying to decide between her ex-husband (who’s hurt her) or another suitor.

I was happily surprised by the way this book wrapped everything up, because I wasn’t expecting some of the directions it headed. It’s an enjoyable read when you just want to sit down and relax with a book.

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

Forever Friday

Forever Fridayby Timothy Lewis, is definitely a book I plan to keep around.  It’s the story of a marriage and of a man whose marriage has fallen apart and is looking for secrets to sustain another marriage…if it’s even worth trying.

Lewis has woven together the stories, managing to tell both of them in a readable style.  I think his present-day story could have been told with a bit more depth and development, but it did frame the historical story without bogging it down.

My favorite romances are the ones that don’t end at the wedding.  This one definitely falls into that category.  It is a peaceful read, a good book to sit back and relax with.

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

The Ragamuffin Gospel

I’ve heard about this book for a while, so when I got the chance to review it, I jumped at it.  And I’m so glad I did.  Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year…and maybe for several years before that.

Good news, grace, gospel…all of these are things I am hungry for.  This book has them in abundance, repeating over and over again the message of the undeserved love and grace of God.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in need of a reminder of or even an introduction to a God of mercy, grace, love, and sovereignty.

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

Secrets to a Happy Life

Sounds good, right?  The title is the whole reason why I asked for a copy of Bill Giovannetti’s Secrets to a Happy Life.  And then I got skeptical.  So I hem-hawed around while the book sat in the pile on my desk (yes, that pile) and procrastinated about reading it for as long as I could in good conscience.  I mean, really, we’ve all read too many self-help books that end up getting us absolutely nowhere.  Or maybe they help us make a little bit of progress, but it’s not worth the time we spent reading the book.

Finally I couldn’t put it off any longer and picked up the book.  I was in for a pleasant surprise.

Secrets to a Happy Life works through the story of Joseph, identifying general principles to a happy life along the way and asking questions at the end of each chapter.  The eleven secrets the author identifies are probably ones we’ve all heard before and intended to remember but then forgot.  They are presented here yet again along with a healthy dose of humor and consistent reminders of God’s grace and undeserved love.

One of the reasons I’d put off reading the book was because I didn’t want to suffer through someone blithely dismissing all suffering, death, and depression with a trite comment about it being God’s will.  Giovannetti somehow manages to avoid all of that while pointing us, ever so gently, to a God who is really both sovereign and loving beyond all belief.

This book has definitely earned its place on my shelf.

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

Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story

An O’Malley romance.  Touching.  Simple.  Enchanting.  All of these describe Dee Henderson’s Jennifer.  I found it a wonderful book to pass a quiet evening with.

From the back of the book:

It’s a summer of change for Jennifer O’Malley.

The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, Texas, and meeting and falling in love with surgeon Tom Peterson is adding a rich layer to her life.  She’s sorting out how to introduce Tom to her family–she’s the youngest of seven–and thinking about marriage.

She’s falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good.  But that faith is about to be tested, and in a way she didn’t expect.  The results will soon transform her entire family.

While Jennifer doesn’t have the suspense that’s woven into the rest of the O’Malley series, it fleshes out the youngest O’Malley, adding depth to that character for those who have already read the series.  And if you haven’t read about the O’Malleys yet, it’s a wonderful place to start!

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

Though My Heart is Torn

Recently I got a chance to read Though My Heart Is Torn, by Joanne Bischof.  It’s the second book in the Cadence of Grace series, and I was eager to find out how the story continued.

It was gut-wrenching.  I found myself crying–surrounded by strangers in an airport, no less–as I read.  This is the blurb from the back of the book:

Gideon O’Riley has two wives—but he doesn’t know it.

Settling into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O’Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob—and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon’s rightful wife.

As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength  she has.

While Gideon’s guilt  and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?

Lonnie only wanted her husband’s love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?

I didn’t feel that the book wrapped up satisfactorily, though.  I felt like there were a lot of loose ends left hanging.  I’m hopeful that the next book in the series will resolve some of the questions I’m left with.

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

The Breath of Dawn

The Breath of Dawn is a romantic suspense novel by Kristen Heitzmann.  It’s about a widower and a woman who is on the run from a man who her testimony helped to put in jail.

The book starts out slowly, but by the time I was halfway through with it I was drawn into the story.  I enjoyed the twists and turns, some that I saw coming and some I didn’t.

I think just about anyone who enjoys romantic suspense would enjoy this book.

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

Ten Secrets to Life’s Biggest Challenges

I got a free copy of 10 Secrets to Life’s Biggest Challenges from Chosen Books to review.  It’s written by Peter Lord and Kent Crockett, and addresses the following challenges:

  • Making Decisions
  • Overcoming Temptations
  • Developing Relationships
  • Resolving Conflicts
  • Healing Your Hurts
  • Adjusting Your Attitudes
  • Managing Money
  • Trusting through Trials
  • Submitting to Authorities
  • Preparing for Death

I was excited to get the book because some of these are things that I am sorting through in my own life.  The authors have some great ideas, but for some reason the book was a difficult read for me and hard to get into.

If you’d like to read this book, I’d recommend not trying to read the book all the way through, but instead finding the challenge you’re struggling with and reading only the chapter pertaining to that subject.  When you’re ready, then look up a different subject.

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

 

Borders of the Heart

Borders of the Heart is Chris Fabry’s story about a man who is hiding out in Arizona, running away from his past, and discovers a nearly-dead Mexican woman in the desert.  His employer has told him to leave any illegals alone and call Border Patrol, but he makes a different choice, one that will end up changing his life.

I can think of several people I know who would enjoy this book, but I had trouble staying interested.  I tend to like my books either a little heavier on the theology or on the happenings, and so the pace wasn’t quite what I look for from a book.  I will say this, though:  It never felt that Fabry had just stopped telling the story and plugged in a sermon, which is often my biggest complaint with Christian fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.  If you’re interested in hearing more about it, here’s a link to Tyndale House’s trailer and also their interview with the author.

Author Q & A
Q: Your newest novel, Borders of the Heart, addresses heavy topics such as illegal immigration, the U.S./Mexico drug trade and the cost of compassion. Where did you get your inspiration for the book?
A: Our family moved to Arizona in 2008 and since then I’ve known I wanted to write about this area of the country, a rich, desert existence with problems and possibilities. This book is not as much an “issue” book as it is a book about people who have to deal with lots of those issues as part of their daily lives. I don’t have an ax to grind on the topics, but I did want to show how real people are affected by these contemporary topics.
Q: Several of the characters in Borders of the Heart are dealing with things from their past. What lessons do your characters learn along the way?
A: The past is huge for each of us. I’m convinced many are “stuck” by something in the past that holds us back from being all God wants us to be. A reader will walk through that process with the main character, J.D., and I’m hoping they’ll see an authentic struggle.
Q: J.D. Jessup is faced with a very difficult moral dilemma when he weighs the decision to follow his boss’ very clear direction or his own heart when he discovers Maria near death. What lessons does this story provide for your readers?
A: Every choice we make in life comes with a cost. If we say yes to one thing, we may have to say no to something else. The choice J.D. makes is a good choice, and even good choices can lead to disastrous and deadly results. Can you believe that God is involved in even the difficult circumstances? I think that’s a huge reveal in this story for me. Does everything have to work out perfectly in the end in order for God to be glorified?
Q: How does the concept of redemption figure into your story? Was it gratifying to write about redemption? Why or why not?
A: A lot of people don’t like the word “saved.” It’s old fashioned and not in vogue. I think the term is loaded with truth because if you’re on the verge of death and someone “saves” you, you know exactly what that means and how grateful you would be. Characters in this story get rescued from certain death and when the stakes are that high, I can’t help but get emotionally involved in the story.
Q: How does the concept of grace figure into your story? Was it gratifying to write about grace? Why or why not?
A: Grace is when we’re treated better than we deserve. Yes, characters discover that in the book as well. I love the concept of grace in such a gritty, tough story because you’re not expecting it. You’re expecting A+B=C and when grace invades, it catches you by surprise.
Q: Borders of the Heart clearly demonstrates that sometimes there is a cost to compassion. What made this an important story element for you? Why was it important for you to show that sometimes there is a cost for us when we behave compassionately?
A: You’ve heard the saying, “Freedom isn’t free.” The one who acts with compassion usually absorbs the pain of someone else. This is a picture of the cross, of the sacrifice made for us in Christ. This is another thread you’ll discover throughout the story.
Q: Have you ever been faced with a real-life hard choice or ethical dilemma like your main character J.D.? If so, what was your dilemma and did you feel like you made the right choice?
A: I’ve never had to decide whether to leave a person for dead or not, but I think every day we have a chance to sacrifice. Sometimes it’s a small thing, like taking time for your children when you have something REALLY important, like writing a few more paragraphs. I haven’t always passed those tests. My contention is, the details of everyday life will show what we’ll do with the big decisions. If you choose well in the small moments, the moments when no one is looking, you’ll choose well when a huge decision comes your way. Conversely, if you don’t see the little things as important, you might not make a good decision with the big decision.
Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Borders of the Heart?
A: Borders of the Heart is at its core a love story. You will root for J.D. and Maria to survive and solve the mystery of what’s really going on in Tucson. And I hope readers will take away the truth that what looks impossible to people is possible with God’s power. Even if something looks hopeless, it’s really not when God is involved.