Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dreaming of More

Picture I am delighted to review Dreaming of More by Michelle Anthony. I have already skimmed read through most of it and I'm going back through with my highlighter and my notebook to catch all the things I don't want to miss.

In Dreaming of More for the Next Generation: Lifetime Faith Ignited by Family Ministry, Dr. Michelle Anthony, drawing from more than 25 years of family ministry experience, helps ministry leaders understand the “why” behind their ministry model and encourages them to focus on generational outcomes, reminding them that each person’s story is a part of a grand story that God is telling throughout history, providing practical examples of how to create space within a program to nurture individual faith and how to effectively partner with parents, supporting them as family spiritual leaders.

I am eating this book up because it so resonates with my heart and my passion. I also love reading books that affirm the natural God-given instincts I already have in me. I was doing family ministry long before that became a movement. Who knew, cutting-edge! :)

One of the reasons I particularly like this book is because it's not a curriculum or a program. Anthony takes very simple biblical truths and makes the reader think. She affirms what many of us are already doing but probably need to be encouraged to do more. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, reach beyond behavior modification, equip parents, and promote life transformation. The role of the Holy Spirit in our ministries is far too often overlooked. This is not a "doing" book but a seeking and listening book.

My ministry is already beginning to shift based on some very simple truths in this book. Anthony is an accomplished writer who walks with the Spirit. I look forward to devouring this book over and over again and recommending it to my mentees in ministry. Go buy this book but do it knowing full well it's going to challenge you, make you ask questions, and mostly help you slow down and listen.

I'll be tweeting quotes throughout the next few days so follow my tweets  to see the nuggets I've pulled out.

Thanks to David C. Cook for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Lady Anne's Quest

Lady Anne's Quest
Susan Page Davis
Barbour Publishing
April 2012
Romance, Fiction, Historical

Finding an imposter instead of her uncle means Anne’s quest must continue after The Lady’s Maid is wed, and Dan is determined to protect her from the swindlers now trailing her. But though he’s good at keeping her safe, he’s certain he’ll never be able to convince Anne to be his wife since her sights are set on finding her uncle and returning to England. As her quest becomes even more difficult—and dangerous—Anne finds her feelings for Dan changing. Will she soon be envisioning a new life in America?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While I find the premise in general to be a little far-fetched (English lady traveling the Oregon trail in search of her uncle) the whole story line is just fun. Anne is endearing and watching her grow throughout the series has been a joy. Dan is a true joy and you'll love him immediately. I am delighted to announce that Anne does finally find her uncle in this book but there are still many unanswered questions that I'm sure the third book in the trilogy will clear up. An easy and enjoyable read. I recommend! 

Thanks to Abingdon Press and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Heart Most Worthy

A Heart Most Worthy
Siri Mitchell
Bethany House Publishers
Genre: fiction, romance, historical

It's 1918 in Boston. World War I is still raging and 3 Italian seamstresses from the North End are daring to dream a different dream. The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the North End of Boston. Each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana make their way to the shop and create beautiful gowns that will never see their part of town.

Impulsive and lively Julietta longs for something more than what life offers in her family's boring flat. When the mysterious Angelo catches her eye she is instantly drawn to him. He lives on the edge and his passion about a revolution is much more dangerous than Julietta could ever imagine. While Angelo draws Julietta further and further into his confusing web Mauro the family friend and doctor stands waiting for Julietta to notice him. When the danger becomes more than anyone could imagine Julietta must choose between the two men.

Quiet and shy Annamaria is the eldest daughter of her Italian family and thereby is destined to never marry and to take care of her parents until their deaths. Dutiful and accepting Annmaria resigns herself to her fate until the day her mama sends her across the street to the forbidden Sicilian produce stand for some tomatoes. When she meets Rafaello her entire world is turned upside down. A forbidden love in more ways than one Annamaria knows she must ignore what her heart longs for most.

Secretive and cautious Luciana is such because she is the daughter of the Count of Roma who was recently killed in an assassination. Even in Boston the assassins are hunting for her. Forced to find work beading gowns to provide for herself and her grandmother Luciana is constantly looking over her shoulder. The North End is a culture shock but no more so than the Irish son of one of the gown maker's clients. He's drawn to Luciana and creates ways for them to meet. In her desire to see no more people she loves killed she must run again.

I will be the first to admit that I typically approach a Mitchell novel with caution. I'm usually drawn to her books due to the story lines and creativity and I'm always dissapointed. Not so with a Heart Most Worthy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters flowed well and were very well developed. I was absolutely transported to Boston and I loved it. The amount of detail in regards to the Italian emigrants of that time completely fascinated me. While not the crux of the book I also appreciated Mitchell's handling of the Spanish Influenza which was completely devastating during that time and not often remembered. Seeing the transition Luciana made from being a Countess of Roma to just a regular emigrant living in the dirty North End of Boston was truly engaging. This was a great read and I'm a little sad it's over...which you know means it's a good one!

rated: pg for adult content

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest and real review.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Before the Scarlet Dawn

Before the Scarlet Dawn
Rita Gerlach
Abingdon Press
February 2012
Romance, Fiction, Historical 

In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father's estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar's daughter, Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life.

I have to honestly say I found this book to be a little odd. You definitely don't end it feeling good, it's very open at the end which sets you up for the next book in the series. Eliza is an interesting character and I can't decide if the author was simply trying to capture the feel of the day or if Eliza was just...odd. Obviously a beauty in love with the husband she managed to snare she also manages to catch the eye of a local neighbor in the New World. When she learns her husband is dead in her grief she turns to her neighbor with devastating results. 

Scarred and abandoned Eliza is sent childless and husbandless back to England. It is there where the story ends leaving us hanging wondering if Eliza will ever reunite with her husband and her child and what will be come of her. 

As I mentioned, it's an odd book. However, it kept my attention and I will definitely read the next installment. It's a heavy book dealing with heavy subjects so be forewarned. 

Thanks to Abingdon Press and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review. 

Heart of Gold

Heart of Gold
Robin Lee Hatcher
Thomas Nelson Publishers
February 2012
Romance, Fiction, Historical

In 1864, Shannon Adair dutifully accompanies her minister father to his new church in the gold rush town of Grand Coeur, in the Idaho Territory, but she secretly burns with resentment that she cannot remain in Virginia to support the Confederacy in its fight against the Northern aggressors. Shannon, who rejects her father’s belief that there is right and wrong on both sides of the war, hates everyone who does not stand wholeheartedly with the south. Despite her antagonism, Shannon agrees to nurse Alice Jackson, the ailing widow of a Yankee soldier. It soon becomes clear that Alice is dying and that her son, Todd, will be left in the care of her older brother, Matthew Dubois, a wanderer who loves his job as a driver for Wells Fargo.

As Alice continually throws Matthew and Shannon together love begins to grow. Matthew thinks he wants to still drive the stagecoach routes and Shannon's pride gets in her way time and time again. However, the love they have for each other can not be denied. 

I found this to be a mediocre book. Perhaps I did it a disservice reading it on the heels of a number of very good books. Either way, it did not keep my attention very well and I found myself skimming at the end. Hatcher is a decent author but her latest books have left me wanting for more depth. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Book Sneeze book review blogger's program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

After All

After All
Deborah Raney
Howard Books
Genre: fiction/Christian/romance
Publication Date: 2012

Susan Marlowe lost her husband and four other firefighters in a tragic fire 18 months ago. She is beginning to heal and move forward. Her homeless shelter has become a reality and is reaching the homeless in her community. Unfortunately due to the tragedy surrounding the fire at the last shelter the town of Hanover Falls is not as enthused about the shelter as she.

While Susan deeply mourns her husband David she also mourns the last couple of years of their marriage where they seemed to have drifted apart. When she learns that her husband had been having an emotional affair she is devastated. She feels guilty and angry and in the midst of trying to care for her almost adult sons she knows she must lead by example and forgive. But can she?

Fire chief Peter Brennan walks with a cloud around him. He is carrying the weight of his divorce, the fire tragedy, and his own self-doubt. When Susan walks back into his world he catches a glimpse of what could be. As he begins to notice her as more than just a friend healing begins to take place in his heart. He renews his connection with the "man upstairs" and begins to find purpose and meaning once again.

It all sounds rosy until you throw in a troubled fire inspector who is yearning for the love she lost and isn't allowed to mourn. She was the other half of David's affair. She's searching for the love she had with him that she was never allowed to fully explore. On the prowl for a man she puts continual snags in Pete and Susan's budding relationship When a mysterious fire starts in Susan's backyard and a disturbed individual starts following her the plot does indeed thicken.

This is the final installment in the Hanover Falls trilogy. I have not yet had the privilege of reading the first two books. I could tell right away I was coming into a series but Raney did a great job as an author of making sure I didn't get lost. This was a very easy and enjoyable read. With just enough depth to keep me thinking and enough intrigue to keep me turning pages into the night I very much enjoyed After All. Raney writes excellent character development and her characters are real relateable people. You'll find yourself understanding more of the troubled fire inspector as you learn about her past. You'll relate to grief Susan has she deals with a number of issues. You'll find Pete both likeable and human and you'll want to go find him and shake his hand. Do yourself a favor and dive into this series, you won't regret it!

Thank you to Howard Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest and real review.

Friday, May 18, 2012

88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates

88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates
Rob and Joanna Teigen
Revell Publishing
Date: 2012
Buy it here! 

I was privileged to meet Rob Teigen (co-author) at a conference last month. When he heard I did book reviews he graciously offered me a copy of his book to review. Believe me when I say, it was truly my pleasure!

I was immediately captivated by the intro as Rob talked about the importance of a daddy in a girl's life. SO important! Completely resonating with my own beliefs and my own heart's cry to have daddys be present in their little girls' lives I was ready to dive in.

Each of the 88 dates is so special. Some are simple and practical and some are more involved but each one is wonderful. The doing has little impact in comparison to the being.  Date #10 "A Walk in the Night" is as simple as taking your girl out in the yard with flashlights and hot cocoa and providing a chance to talk. There are some sample questions to ask but the authors make it clear that their is no special recipe, just spend time together. Date #81 is a "Table for Two" and involves a fancy dinner with your girl where you treat her like the princess she is.

As the daughter of a daddy who was intentional about dating me I love this book! So much of who I am today is because my daddy took time to be with me. I highly recommend this book. Very simple, practical, and special. Way to go Teigens!

A special thank you to Rob Teigen for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Westward Hearts

Westward Hearts
Melody Carlson
Harvest House Publishers
September 2012

Kentucky, 1854—Elizabeth Martin has mourned her husband’s death for three years, but now she feels ready to fulfill the dream they had shared—to take their two children west. The dream becomes reality when her middle-aged parents and bachelor brother surprise her with the news that they want to go as well.

After converting three of their best wagons to prairie schooners and thoroughly outfitting them, the little party travels from Kentucky to Kansas City, where they join a substantial wagon train. Elizabeth soon finds herself being drawn to the group’s handsome guide, Eli Kincade.

The long journey and deepening relationships challenge the travelers to their core, and Eli’s mysterious past leaves Elizabeth with more questions than answers. She knows there’s no turning back, but she wonders, What have I gotten myself into?

As I was reading this book I kept double checking to make sure it was teen fiction. It isn't but it's written like it is. Carlson is a decent author and I have enjoyed many of her books. For some reason this one was a struggle for me. It read very amateur. Unnecessary details, poor dialogue, juvenile story lines, and overall just not very engaging. I struggled through it the whole time. There is just enough mystery to keep you hooked but not enough to keep you awake or to make you remember a single character once you're done reading. Here's hoping the next books in the series improve and become more engaging. 

Thanks to netgalley and Harvest House Publishing House for providing me with a free digital copy of this book for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Veil of Pearls

Veil of Pearls
MaryLu Tyndall
Barbour Publishing
Historical, Fiction, Romance
July 1, 2012

Be swept away to Charleston of 1811, a city bustling with immigrants like Adalia, who is a runaway slave so light-skinned that no one guesses her past. Terrified her secret will be discovered, she settles into a quiet life making herbal remedies for a local doctor. But when Morgan, the handsome son of a prominent family, sweeps her into his glamorous world—a world in which the truth about Adalia’s heritage would ruin them both—suspicions and petty jealousies are aroused. What will Morgan do when he discovers that the woman he has fallen in love with is a runaway slave?

Tyndall writes with passion and intrigue. This book captured me right away and didn't let me go. Adalia is a complex character who could have been even better developed. After being a slave for 7 years she transitions into the regular world with unbelievable ease. Morgan is both likeable and loathe worthy. The connection between the two is passionate and life-altering. While I had my eye rolling moments when the plot was so predictable I also had my "ah" moments and I really enjoyed this read. Tyndall is growing in depth as an author and I look forward to more from her. The view from a slave's perspective is particularly intriguing. Reading of life in Charleston in the early 1800's was very interesting. A good read that I recommend! 

Thanks to netgalley and Barbour Publishing for providing me with a free digital copy of this book for my honest review.  
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