Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep

Lost in Darkness  -     By: Michelle Griep

This was an unusual book. Amelia’s brother is grotesquely disfigured but content with his hermit lifestyle. When their father dies and makes arrangement for a drastic surgery in his will, Amelia and Colin don’t know what to do.

The type of doctor care Colin receives is horrific at best. It’s crazy to think that this kind of thing ever happened. Dr. Peckwood and his secretive ways become more sinister as his motives are revealed.

I really liked Colin and his heart for God and for a mysterious little friend. He didn’t let his disfigurement harden him in the least. He’s a beautiful man as is Graham.

Interestingly, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (the future author of Frankenstein) comes to visit the countryside. It’s fascinating seeing one way of how she might have been inspired for her gothic tale.

This was a fascinating book. It was a little slow at times but still a great read. Thank you to Barbour Fiction for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Feels Like Home by Marian Parsons

Feels Like Home  -     By: Marian Parsons

I am not a confident decorator….at all. So I feel authors have their work cut out when they’re working with me. I like to pick up a book like this every now and then and see if it can get me one step further. I feel like this book did that. This book isn’t about having the perfect house but having one that is perfectly suited for you and how you want to live and function there. I appreciated that it focused on this being a long, slow process that will probably last a lifetime. It’s not a destination.

It had 9 project tutorials. A lot of these were beyond anything I’m hoping to do. Maybe someday I’d come back to them. It also had assignments scattered throughout. These were more my speed. For instance, one assignment was to add one unexpected thing to one room in your house and live with it for a week. That seems manageable and interesting and fun to me. I’m going to do it.

I appreciated a lot of the tips and I made note of a few things I want to think about as I’m out at thrift stores and sales…things like statement pieces. I also want to find some interesting switch plate covers to add interest to a room.

I appreciated that the author isn’t encouraging you to go out and start from scratch and spend a lot of money. She asks questions that help you analyze what’s working for you already and how you can take it a step further. I think this book is helpful for those who want to make big sweeping changes as well as for those like me who just want to dip their toes in the water of decorating.

Thank you to Worthy Books for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

‘Twas the Season of Advent by Glenys Nellist

Twas the Season of Advent: Family Devotional and Stories for the Christmas Season  -     By: Glenys Nellist

Though geared for young children, this advent devotional will help all ages focus on what Christmas is really all about. That can be a struggle for everyone. Each devotional starts with a four line rhyme that is a take-off from “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and a Bible verse. This is followed by a few paragraphs that flesh the verse out and make it easier to understand in story form. You feel like you’re right there with Mary as the angel comes to talk to her. The day ends with a brief prayer and a beautiful illustration.

This devotional is very well written. The stories stay true to the Biblical text. Each day ends at an appropriate spot. It would only take a couple of minutes to read each day which I feel gives you a better chance of actually using it. I think it’s a great tool to help kids learn and remember that Christmas isn’t just about presents and all the distractions of Christmas. It’s about God, come to earth in human form to be our Savior. I’d highly recommend it.

Thank you to Zondervan Kidz for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter

Riverbend Gap  -     By: Denise Hunter

Imagine meeting the woman of your dreams with chemistry zinging between you only to find out she’s dating your brother. Such is the case for Cooper when he rescues Katelyn from a harrowing accident. You can tell right away which relationship has all the zest but have to wonder how it’s going to get from here to there. It reminded me a bit of “While You Were Sleeping.”

There isn’t a lot of action or suspense but there are definitely conflicts to work through and a bit of a mystery. It’s entertaining watching Katelyn and Cooper try to deal with their renegade affections when they keep getting thrown together. I liked the Robinson family dynamics and hope to learn more about Avery and Gavin in future books.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Tacos for Two by Betsy St. Amant

Tacos for Two  -     By: Betsy St. Amant

“If Rory Perez could find a way to wad all the cilantro in the entire world into a ball and hurl it into outer space, it still wouldn’t be far enough removed for her preference.” I was drawn in from this opening line…and I concur! It’s a funny twist that the woman who hates cilantro inherited a taco truck….and she can’t cook!

Jude and Rory have a lot of fun flirting and messaging each other in a dating app. They quote “You’ve Got Mail” quite a bit, never realizing how closely their own lives will play this out. While they enjoy their anonymous online relationship, their in-person relationship is a lot more antagonistic. Both see the other as a real threat to getting what they want in life.

I enjoyed both parts of their relationship except for one thing. Rory was so quick to assume the worst at every turn. It was almost unbearable. Thankfully she does learn and grow as does Jude.

This was a fun story and a quick read. It did make me want to go visit a taco truck! I am already looking forward to the next book.
Thank you to Revell for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott

A View Most Glorious #3  -     By: Regina Scott

Cora is an amazing woman. When she is asked to climb Mt. Rainier to bring attention to the women’s suffragette movement, she is determined to do it. It gets more complicated with the stipulations her mother brings to the deal. Her step-father, Winston, showed great love for her and really believed in her abilities as a person, not just as a woman. He went to great lengths for her. He doesn’t parent out of fear but gives Cora room and grace to prove herself. He’s wonderful, as are Nathan and Waldo.

It was a fascinating ploy to use climbing Rainier to impact women’s rights. I enjoyed the trek but felt it could have been a little more harrowing. Still it was a solid, satisfying adventure.

Thank you to Revell for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane C. Ortlund

Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners  -     By: Dane C. Ortlund

When I read a book I’m going to review, I usually read it pretty fast. However, this is a book to be savored. It is rich and deep and thought provoking. It is gentle and convicting. It puts words to things I know to be true but hadn’t thought of. It is very helpful and encouraging.

Ortlund writes, “We walk along, building a sense of self through all the feedback pinging back at us. We don’t even realize we’re doing it” (location 964). How true! He goes on to say that “one vital aspect of growing in Christ is coming back time and again to the doctrine of justification to do chemotherapy on the remaining malignancies of our craving for human approval” (location 945). When we remember and think on the extreme lengths Jesus went to to save us, it changes us.

There were so many helpful things in this book. I’ll share just one more special quote. “What we must see is not only that Jesus is gentle toward you but that he is positively drawn toward you when you are most sure he doesn’t want to be. It’s not only that he is not repelled by your fallenness–he finds your need and emptiness and sorrow irresistible” (location 237). What a Savior!

Thank you to Crossway for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. I will read it again and again. I’d highly recommmend it. All opinions are my own.

The Daily Bible Project

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This book is exactly as described. It’s a journal for writing your reflections as you read through the Bible. It’s a simple format. Each page has the chapters you’re supposed to read across the top and has three spaces for journaling below. After every 30 pages, there’s a page that has special information like an explanation of the different measurements in the Bible or a list of verses on a theme like peace or joy.

Here are a few things I appreciate about this journal.

  1. It has two different reading plans to choose from. It’s printed in the journal so you don’t have to worry about losing your paper plan.
  2. It has space to reflect on what you’re reading. It’s easy when reading through the Bible in a year to just check off the boxes and keep going without spending time thinking about what you’re reading. This helped me slow down and think about what I read.
  3. It’s undated. You can use this to read through the Bible in a year or you can go at your own pace. There’s no sense of being behind and needing to catch up.
  4. There’s a lot of flexibility. You can choose to use this journal to record insights over three years or you can use all the spaces to record whatever verses stood out to you, chapter themes, whatever.

I am reading the chapters listed at the top and am trying to think about what each chapter is about. I’m using one of the spaces on each page for each chapter (if there’s a 4th chapter, I put it on the top of the page). I’m writing things that will help me remember what that chapter is about and listing a key verse for each. It’s been helpful. Even on the second page doing this helped me see why there was a genealogy in chapter five of Genesis. Journaling helped me see the flow from creation to the first humans to the wickedness on the earth which then leads to Noah and the ark. The genealogy ties it all together and shows the passing of time and how we got from creation to the flood. It made me see the genealogy in a new light and not just something to be skimmed over…all because I took a moment to reflect.

Yes, I could do the same thing in my own notebook. However, I find that sometimes having a simple structure like this one makes me more apt to do it.

Thank you to Ink and Willow for providing me with a free copy of this journal. I’d recommend it. All opinions are my own.

#inkandwillowgifts #waterbrookmultnomah

Love on the Range by Mary Connealy

Love on the Range #3  -     By: Mary Connealy

I enjoyed the premise for this series. It was satisfying seeing everything explained and coming to fruition. I liked that all of the main characters from each book had a big role to play in this one which is fitting as they’re a family.

The action never stops. There’s a huge sense of danger and urgency. Molly, for reasons of her own, decides to go undercover as a housekeeper at Hawkins’ ranch. There were a couple scenes there where the tension was palpable. I wanted to play lookout or scream, “He’s coming!”

There were a few twists and surprises. I gave this book four stars instead of five because of the “romance” that wasn’t really much of a romance. There wasn’t much to it. I also felt the little brother, Andy, was a throw away character. He didn’t ever really get his moment to shine.

Still, I enjoyed the book. It was a fast-paced read. Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a free e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

The Lines Between Us by Amy Lynn Green

The Lines Between Us  -     By: Amy Lynn Green

There were so many things I appreciated about this book. I’ve read a lot of books that take place during WW2 but this one had a different twist and covered things I knew nothing about. I was drawn in from the start. When the bombs hit Pearl Harbor, Dorie’s relationships with her brother and Gordon also implode. She expects them to go off to war to do their duty but they are pacifists or Conscientious Objectors. It was very satisfying seeing Dorie, Jack, Gordon and others work through their own prejudices and come to see that things aren’t always as clear cut as they think. It was very thought provoking.

Green’s books are never formulaic. Things don’t always happen the way you expect. I like that. The characters felt very real to me. I could relate to Dorie and her passion for what she thought was right. It’s easy to neglect to extend grace when you’re so convinced of your rightness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style. There are so many delicious sentences like these. “‘Don’t make me say it again.’ Humble pie, it turns out, is made out of unripe blackberries and arsenic, and this was my first slice…” (page 350). Or “a special invitation. He might as well have lit an electric marquee with a giant arrow to direct my curiosity” (page 33).

Besides learning about conscientious objectors, this book also highlights the role of smokejumpers during the war and a little known war technique. It was fascinating.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a free copy of this book. I’d highly recommend it. All opinions are my own.