The Polygamist’s Daughter By Ann LeBaron

I cannot even imagine the courage it took for Ms. LeBaron to write this book, and I thank her for it. My only ideas of polygamy were seen on television depicting large families by multiple wives all living in separate homes being fed and cared for. Not that I agreed with it or thought such conditions were ideal for the children. I was obviously grossly uninformed because I never dreamed such horrific circumstances existed.
The author’s mother was the wife of self-proclaimed prophet Ervil LeBaron. I couldn’t help but notice that only one letter kept his name from being “Evil” which after reading her story I find much more appropriate. She had 49 siblings! She was only 9 years old when she begins her story. There are no dolls, games, or spending time being held and snuggled. Her life was one of unimaginable neglect, abuse constant fear and hideous poverty. These were considered the norm not only for the adults but for the children. My heart broke for her and her siblings. They were treated more like animals than children! Being taken to other countries and left in the same poverty with people she did not know and who did not care for her. She never felt loved or safe. It hurt to read about how she was always seeking and craving that tender relationship of a parent and child. All this she endured until her teens when she remarkably escaped from the cult. Another great act of courage for one so young!
I find it even more incredible after enduring all this that she has become the beautiful well-adjusted woman she is today. As sad as the book may sound (and it is), hope, love and forgiveness are what stands out. How the love of God can heal all wounds and bring beauty from ashes.
I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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How to Overcome Worry: Experiencing the Peace of God in Every Situation By Dr. Winfred Neely

I love small power packed books like this! I will confess I have always been a worrier and I know it isn’t good. Times of trouble only escalate it, making things even harder. Worry is hard work; it drains you emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. It robs you of the peace and joy God has for you. Most of all, it is sin because it is unbelief and reveals we do not trust the Lord or His promises to care for us.
Dr. Neely takes a close look at Philippians 4:6-7. A familiar verse to Christians has the remedy but one most worriers forget to apply. If anyone had a reason to worry and have anxiety it was Paul! He was imprisoned and would stand before the sadistic, cruel, Emperor Nero! What’s amazing is that he didn’t worry! Paul gives us God’s simple cure: giving everything to Him in prayer! The choice is ours, and believe me it is a choice. He is the only one that can take care of our problems and has the answer!
This book puts “handles on your wheelbarrow” so to speak and shows you how to conquer worry once and for all. The illustrations helped me put concepts on a personal level. The entire book is firmly grounded in scripture and lots of them; something very important to me. I also liked that Dr. Neely helps one distinguish between concern and worry which is often a confusing, fine line for a habitually anxious person. There is a section on how to put those prayers into action. Included are scriptures to overcome worry and question to reflect on.
This little book is all meat and no fluff, a real asset to read over and over again, and for reference. High five to Dr. Neely for a truly helpful book!
This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. 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.”

The Whispering of the Willows By Tonya Jewel Blessing

The Ashby family lived in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1920’s. This was an area and time of great hardships but the Ashby family had more than most. Their fun loving, happy father that made so many wonderful memories came back from the war a changed man. He was injured in battle and confined to a wheelchair, but the greatest damage was done to his spirit and heart. He had become an angry, bitter and abusive man. Unable to support his family financially, the family cut corners and did all they could. Being a large family there wasn’t a lot to go around.
The story centers around one family member, Emerald age 15. She finished the 8th grade and according to tradition that is the end of her education and her father will choose her spouse. His choice brings harm to his daughter’s life and future. She is victim of horrific violence.
She flees to Aunt Ada, not a relative by blood but by love. Supported by Aunt Ada and her lifelong friend, Ernie, she begins to heal and build a future for herself. I don’t want to say anymore because the book is full of so many surprises and I don’t want to spoil it for the readers.
The superstitions and folklore were fascinating! I loved reading about their simple ways and especially their resourcefulness. The people had so little but never hesitated to help or share with those that had even less. No matter how serious their problems were they were always put aside to reach out to others. What a testimony! Strong Christian faith was predominate and total trust in God was constantly in the forefront of their hearts, no matter how bad the situation. Aunt Ada’s solid biblical advice and sweet spirit made her one of my favorite characters.
Ernie sang hymns when he was found himself in despair or pain. What a wonderful idea rather than wallowing in despair and hopelessness! I found the book inspiring spiritually and very uplifting.
I applaud the author for the delicate way she handled the subjects of death, physical and sexual abuse, showing that through God we can overcome anything! A book you want to read!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bookcrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

These Healing Hills By Ann H. Gabhart

As I have mentioned in past reviews, I love historical fiction, medicine, midwifery, and the Appalachian people. This book checks all those boxes! To say the least I was excited to start reading it, but I had no idea incredible writing skills of Ms. Gabhart!
I had never heard of the Frontier Nursing Services before reading this book. The character Breckinridge was a real person and founder. The author read these midwife’s real first-person accounts of their services. This gave the book the realism and authenticity that allows the reader to experience the unique lifestyles of the Appalachian families and the experiences of the nurses.
I thoroughly enjoyed the unusual Appalachian words and sayings! I found them very clever and entertaining. Ms. Gabhart’s research not only made the people in the story come to life, but also gives a deep glimpse into the mind, personality, beliefs, and strength of these amazing people. After reading the book, the term “hillbillies” is such a derogatory term to assign to these incredible Appalachians.
After Fran hears the man she thought was to be her husband is coming home engaged to an English girl, all her plans go up in smoke. Her dreams of being a wife and mother are shattered. Her overbearing, critical mother isn’t very sympathetic.
When she hears of the midwife training in the hills of Kentucky she feels this is where she needs to be. She falls in love with the hills, the mountain people, and the many challenges of “catching babies” and tending to varied medical emergencies.
Ben belonged to the hills but had been away at war serving as medic. Much had changed in the years he had gone, most of all, his father’s death. Part of him wants to stay and the other wants to use the GI Bill to further his education. He meets Fran and his feelings for her only add to his confusion.
I liked the way I could see the mountains through Ben’s eyes, his appreciation and depth of having grown up there, but it was also a delight to see them through Fran’s. She observed everything with freshness, newness and innocence. It was her observations of both mind and heart that made me feel a part of the hardships, difficult weather and learning to live a totally new way of life.
I cannot pick a favorite character, they were all delightful. The book has romance, suspense, adventure, and humor. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read more writings by Ms. Gabhart!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Christmas Blessing By Melody Carlson

I am always excited when Ms. Carlson publishes and new book and cannot wait to read it. I love the way she captures the true Christmas spirit in so many different ways. All stories are different and filled with faith and surprises. All my other books including this one stays on my bookshelf. I do not even loan them out!
It’s 1944 and men are being shipped off to war at a moment’s notice. Caught up in whirlwind romances and knowing the possibility of being separated for years or forever, it wasn’t uncommon for young couples to give into temptation. This is what happened to Amelia when she fell in love with James. She gives birth to his son only to find out that he is reported dead.
She finds herself with no job and no money to provide for her child. She decides her only hope is to go to James’ parents for help. The problem is they have no clue that her and baby Jimmy even exist. Upon learning that his family is influential and wealthy she cringes at how they might react to her being an unwed mother? Would they believe her story? Will they reject her, and worse yet her son? Does she have any hope?
Bravely she leaves California and travels to his hometown in Montana. There she faces heart wrenching difficulties and serious problems for her and her baby. Things go from bad to worse but she still struggles to go to James’ family. Finally a life threatening situation causes her to make a desperate decision but one made from the depths of love.
My heart ached for Amelia as she struggled. I admired her true mother’s love and devotion, and sacrifices she made for her little boy. The story had many surprises and sudden turns. Ms. Carlson beautifully illustrated the true meaning of Christmas is an unusual and unexpected way. While Amelia was pregnant out of wedlock, her issue was in no way treated as acceptable or appropriate. Another 5 star book! Thank you Melody Carlson!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

There’s Always a Zacchaeus Up a Tree By Roger Campbell (Author), Timothy Campbell (Editor)

When I chose this book based on the cute title I did not even notice the author was Roger Campbell: the famous writer, broadcaster, columnist, pastor, father and husband! With such a life of variety, insight and experience I knew it was going to be a great book and I wasn’t wrong! It isn’t a big book, only 165 pages, but it would be 3 inches thick if it was measured by the treasures within. This is a simple read, but very inspirational and thought provoking.
Each devotional is a page long with a scripture at the end. I was impressed with how much truth and wisdom each simple story contained. He shares personal experiences, biblical truths and lessons learned from people in the past. Each page was engaging and captured my attention. No matter what the tone of the story; he always ends it on a note of hope
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not only from the entertainment side but also from all the ways it gently opened my eyes and mind to looking at many spiritual matters in a different light. A book shared not only from a full life but also a full heart. Refreshing and different!
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Ordering Your Private World By Gordon MacDonald

The title of the book drew me to it as I am always interested in better organizing my life, but once I opened it there was oh so much more! As I started to read it my eyes fell upon the words “live out of an empty soul”. That’s when I grabbed my highlighter. The author speaks of Christians who are so busy being Christians and serving the Lord but Christ isn’t the focus of their life. He asks us are we “driven” or all we “called”?
Some people are motivated by praise and success; others are caught up in serving and trying to meet all the needs and demands coming their way. As a minister’s wife for 26 years, I would often think about this. I love the Lord with all my heart but I would find myself “soul empty” because my time so full of the ministry. Yes I read my Bible and prayed but my focus wasn’t fully Christ but the tasks at hand.
No wonder we feel exhausted, hopeless and on the verge of burnout.
This book has so much to offer. Mr. McDonald shares attitudes and applications to establish if we are being driven or called to do something. He shares openly about his breakdown and shares how he began to rebuild his life on a firmer foundation. I like that he doesn’t just tell me I have a problem but gives me the tools to restore my life. I can learn how to reevaluate my priorities, control my time instead of it controlling me, how to re-enforce my spiritual inner life, and learn to truly rest. It excites me to see the world through the eye of the Bible and the Lord and not just what my flesh can perceive.
No wonder so many of us lack peace in our lives. I know I personally need to strengthen my inner world because my outer world the last few years has become almost too much to bear. The author jolted my mind with the example of Jesus ministry. Yes I knew it but I hadn’t ever noticed that he was never in a hurry. No one ever has or ever will have such a massive outer world to deal with. People constantly surrounding him and begging for help, teaching, dealing with those that wanted to harm him, and trying teach hard to teach disciples. Yet He was always at peace. Even as God in the flesh He took time to rest and be with His Heavenly Father. Amazing!
I so appreciate the built in study guide that will help me step by step to achieve this strengthening. When my focus is completely on Christ and all else that is shouting for my attention and energy will be sorted out as to whether deserves my attention or not. I will not be driven by the tyranny of the urgent but by looking through my Savior’s eyes. I want Him to be my only guide, not my planner or to do list. This book is to study and reread. I am keeping it as a reference book when I complete all it has to offer. An exceptional book all Christians need to read.
I received this book from W Publishing Group through Handlebar. I was not required to give a positive review; the opinions stated are my own.

Liar’s Winter By Cindy K. Sproles

I read the author’s first book Mercy’s Rain and could not wait to read this one! She is an incredibly talented writer that not only entertains but rivets your heart and mind to the story, bringing home incredible biblical truths.
The Appalachians and the unique people that live there have long fascinated me. Ms. Sproles was raised in the Appalachian mountains so her stories have a realism inherent from understanding the people, their ways, and their traditions.
Lochiel Ogle was born in the Tennessee mountains during the late 1800’s. Through no fault of her own, she had a large red birth mark on her face and neck. The superstition of the hills deemed it a “mark of the devil.” Due to the fear associated with this belief she suffered isolation and abuse by her adopted family.
As a young boy, her brother Gerald came upon the cabin where her mother had just given birth to her. The mother, in deep sleep was assumed dead by the boy. He was hoping a baby would ease his mother’s grief from the babies she had lost. Of course because of the mark, the infant was rejected and became a young woman filled with anger, hurt and confusion. She truly believed the curse and that the devil controlled her.
When she was 19 years old her brother tried to kill her and left her for dead. A compassionate Christian man named Walton found her and took her to his elderly mother, Edna. There for the first time in her life Lochiel, experienced love, kindness, acceptance and nurturing. While these were all very important needs, the greatest gift Edna gave her was to introduce her to God and His Word. Gently and lovingly she began to teach Lochiel that there was no curse and that she was not evil. Slowly Edna’s Christ like ways and teachings began to change Lochiel. It brought home that what we see has a horrible situation is God working to bless us.
This is an incredible story of forgiveness and love beyond what most of us cannot even begin to grasp. I saw God’s power working in Lochiel’s life in unimaginable ways. Suspense and surprise do not even begin to describe this novel. You will not be able to put it down! If you only read one fiction book this year, this is the one!
I received this book from Kregel Publishing. This is an honest review and the opinions stated are my own.

The Legacy By Michael Phillips

I understand this is the third book in a series. I have not read to the first two books and I feel like I missed a great deal. I don’t feel like it can be read and truly enjoyed as a standalone.
Scotland is some place I would love to visit. The author captured the beauty of the landscape, the historical background, and the heart of the people that live there. While I enjoyed his attention to detail in all aspects, at times it made the reading rather slow and cumbersome. There were points I had to push to get keep going as my interest waned.
Loni unexpectedly inherits a small island in the Shetlands. The Scots strongly steeped in tradition and family ties were not happy with an outsider suddenly being thrust upon them in a position of leadership. The resident’s rejection makes Loni’s adjustment even more difficult, causing her to question what path to take. As a unique twist to the story she finds herself falling for the local chieftain, David Tulloch whom the islanders believe to be the true heir.
The story switches back and forth between Loni and David’s present day romance and that of her great-grandparents through old journals written by her great-grandmother. I especially liked the latter parts. They were relevant to me for a couple of reasons. I have a diary kept by my uncle that describes my father’s and his life growing up. Also I have a friend doing a genealogy search for me on my family history. There is something special about knowing where you came from and who your past family was. It gives you grounding and a feeling of belonging. I see this in Loni as she reads the journals. The most important thing is finding strength and inspiration from your spiritual heritage. Over all I had trouble sticking to the story, maybe because I hadn’t read the first two books.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers. The opinions I stated are my own.

With You Always By Jody Hedlund

After losing both her parents, German immigrant Elise Neumann, finds herself homeless and sole provider for her 2 younger sisters and 2 motherless orphans. In the late 1850’s life was harsh for women in poverty and alone. She is only 19 years old but very mature and courageous from all the suffering and adversities she has faced in her young life. They find themselves living on the streets and in dire straits. Miss Pendleton, a wealthy, Christian woman who has sold all to open a mission in the slums of lower Manhattan, invites them to live there. While the mission is better than the streets, it has not been renovated yet and is filled with filth and vermin. No matter, Elise and her sisters are grateful.
Miss Pendleton’s purpose for her ministry is to help prostitutes get off the streets and earn and honest living. She hires them as seamstresses to do work for local business. This is Elise’s trade and she begins work. Not long after, the city finds itself in severe financial straits and the work ends.
With a broken heart she is forced to leave her sisters there while she goes west to work in a new town being developed along the railroad. Little does she know the new town she is going to be employed in is part of a challenge between Thornton Quincey and his twin brother to prove who is worthy to inherit the family business from their dying father. Thornton Quincy, wealthy New York socialite, is completely at the other end of the social scale from Elise. Here their paths cross again (you have to read the book to find out how they met). She was proof you don’t’ have to be wealthy to be confident and he confirmed you don’t have to be poor to be meek. I totally enjoyed their interactions and sense of humor. Despite the vast ocean of class that divides them a seed of romance is planted.
The story is a touching example that true love knows no boundaries, and God’s plans are not limited by circumstances. While since her parent’s death and one setback after another, Elise feels God has abandoned her. Through her adversities she grows to see He has always been there. I was reminded of Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Being a huge fan of historical Christian novels, I appreciated the author’s thorough research. Being based on a true incident, Ms. Hedlund did a skillful job of fleshing out the story and characters. I had heard a lot about the orphan trains but was unaware of plight poverty-stricken women during this era. It shocked me to realize so many had to leave their children to work in the Midwest to provide for them. It seemed they jumped out of the frying pan into the fire as the employers exploited and abused them. I cannot imagine going through what these women did. An outstanding book! Can’t wait for a sequel!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.