Aunt Ida Clare By Michele McCarty

Children are bombarded with so much negative in the world. They are faced with bullies and unkind kids at school.  Media programs that make them feel they don’t measure up in many ways. Even adults in their life unthinkingly make statements that can undermine their value in their eyes.  They have little encouragement or teaching them to show how truly special they are.  These comments stay with their impressionable minds and hearts for life. I know some of the remarks made to me in my youth have stayed with me all these years. (And trust me that is a lot of years!) Because of these things, too many children have a “can’t do” rather than a “can do” mind set.  

This book is a wonderful, fun way to encourage and turn about a child’s thinking.  It centers around the importance of words.  And after all that is where it all begins isn’t it, with the spoken word?

All of us have that crazy aunt.  Well Aunt Ida was definitely one of those!  She has just moved to town near the children and is called upon to babysit them.  At first they are skeptical but are quickly caught up in her excitement, positivity and quirkiness.  There are lots of unusual fun, descriptive words.  (Personally my favorite word is bodacious but much to my disappointment it is not in the book).

Aunt Ida quickly turns the children’s negative thinking around.  Two things I especially liked about is one, it center’s around the Bible and God’s perspective on our words. Secondly I loved the object lesson she uses to get this across.  It is unforgettable and easily applied to your children’s lives.  Not telling what it is because I don’t want to be a spoiler!

I will not only read it with my grandchildren (more than once) but also use it as a lesson in my Sunday school class.  I also plan to get each child the item used in the object lesson! A much needed powerful little book that I see being a real game changer in children’s lives! Thank you to Michele McCarty for giving me a copy of this book.  The opinions in this review are my own.

Under the Bayou Moon  By Valerie Fraser Luesse

I have some close friends from Louisiana that are so in love with their state and the life they had there.  I have been there briefly once but otherwise knew little about it.  After reading this book I understand what they are talking about.

The time is 1949.  Ellie Fields wants to break out of her family’s preconceived ideas about how her future would be and have some adventure!  That opportunity comes when she is offered a teaching job in the Bernadette, Louisiana.  She sets off alone from her comfortable home in Alabama in her 1939 car she has named Mabel. 

What she finds is a far cry from what she expected.  She finds she will be teaching 12 grades alone.  The children are terrified of teachers due to some abusive discipline the school board wants enforced when children speak their native language, French.   The housing she is provided is only accessible by a fairly long boat ride and her home has no electricity or indoor amenities.  She is really out in the boonies alone! Such a culture shock! Ellie is determined to stay and do the very best job she can.  I loved her fearlessness, grit and determination to face challenges head on and to be a part of the community. Raphe Broussard, a lifetime resident, becomes a source of encouragement and guidance she needs to settle in.  He is trying to raise his orphaned nephew.  A job he definitely feels unqualified for.  Little do they know a powerful politician has evil motives to do harm to the sleepy community to clear the way for his financial advancement.

The characters and town were delightful.  The deep caring and commitment they had for each other is something I wish was everywhere.  Their lives were poor and even backward, but they were so content and happy!  I was swept away by the author’s beautiful descriptions of the bayou, and the simple lifestyle of the people.  I felt so peaceful and relaxed, and pictured myself sitting on their front porches, looking out at the water, no TV, phones, or internet to distract.  Pure pleasure!  I felt a longing to go and experience it.   I learned so much about the Cajun heritage, traditions and personality!   One surprising thing about the book was that when most would end, this one was just beginning.  I enjoyed the excitement and mystery!  I either couldn’t put the book down because I was caught up in the beautiful moments or because I had to see what happened next!  A book you want to read!

I received this book from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

Beyond the Tides By Liz Johnson

I was drawn into this unique story immediately!   It checked all the boxes:  Mystery, humor, romance, inspiration, and faith!

Oliver had been helping Meg’s father in his lobster business for many years.  Both men had love, respect and close working relationship.  The unusual thing is that Meg had a deep seated resentment and bitterness against Oliver for something that happened 10 years ago in high school.  You could even say she loathed him. She had moved away and had a teaching job she loved.

Her mother’s health takes a frightening turn for the worse. This forces her father to sell his business so he can take care of his wife.  The logical one to buy it is Oliver, who desperately needs income.  Meg has never worked the business and get violently sea sick even standing on a boat.  Her grudge spurs her to tell her father she wants it.  Oliver has the skills and loyalty and it is Meg’s legacy. Which should he choose and how?  To resolve the problem, he decides Oliver and Meg work side by side on the boat for the fishing season and then he will pick one of them to own his business.    Talk about pouring gas on the fire!  With gritty determination they both take the challenge.

What transpires is beautiful.  The constant act of working together brings about miraculous changes in both their lives.  God begins to work in both their lives in unexpected ways and does what is seemingly impossible.  There are lots of surprises along the way for the reader and so many really funny moments. 

I so enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read the next one in this series 2

I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

Eat God’s Food By Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS

I was very impressed with this book and I wish it was around when my girls were young.   I am happy it is here for my grandsons though!  Healthy eating is very important, but most people today still do not choose it.

Our bodies are the temple of God and as Christians caring for them is very important.  Children are bombarded with all the unhealthy foods by friends, family,

and advertisements.  This book not only teaches them healthy eating in a fun way but also biblical perspective. 

Each section asks the question, “Why did God give you. . .” and names a particular food group. It covers fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seed, meat and seafood and water (not recipe on the last one of course!)

The pages are colorfully illustrated to spark young one’s interest.  Included are fun activities to aid in learning and a healthy recipe!  Children will learn and enjoy doing it. The book covers even more important information kids need to not only make healthy eating choices but why.  A great book to encourage children to start eating right at an early age!

I received this book as a gift from the author.  The opinions stated are my own.

To Steal a Heart By Jen Turano

Gabriella Goodhue has had a hard life.  As a child she was forced to work as a thief many other children for an unscrupulous man, until being rescued into an orphanage.  Now as an adult she has turned all that around.  She is has become an upright citizen and has a respectable job as a seamstress.  She resides at the Bleeker Street Boardinghouse with a most unusual group of women.  Each with their own past and funny quirks, but together have formed a close knit family. 

One of the tenants there is falsely accused of stealing an expensive heirloom from an aristocratic family.  Gabriella is determined to clear their name.  She disguises herself and goes undercover at a ball to try and nab the real thief.  In the process, she is thrown together with Nicholas Quinn.  He was a part of the child thief ring and they had been very close, but had not seen each other in many years.  Nicholas was taken in by a wealthy man and is now part of high society. He purposes to help her solve her case but she wants nothing to do with him.  She has past hurts of feeling he abandoned her.

As with all of Ms. Turano’s books the events that follow are hilarious and touching! I couldn’t quit laughing at the escapades of Gabriella, Nicholas and the motley group from the boardinghouse. Daphne, her friend and fellow tenant, was my favorite character!  Her eccentricities paired with her helping Gabriella were hysterical   I loved the suspense and close calls they found themselves in.  What I liked most was Nicholas’s strong faith in the Lord and his gentle guiding to help Gabriella see that God loved her and she could trust Him. This is such a fun book and the ending will surprise you.  Thank you Ms. Turano for brightening my reading days with another fantastic book!

The Nature of Small Birds By Susie Finkbeiner

The Vietnam War was a news topic all my growing up years and early adulthood.  I remember the headlines.  When Operation Baby Lift occurred April 4 to April 19, 1975, I had just given birth to my first child on April 4th.  As I held my sweet baby, I remember hurting for all these frightened children being brought to the United States.  They had already been through such traumatic experiences.  I heard of families that had adopted them, but I knew nothing of their lives after that.

Mindy was one of those children.  The story goes back and forth between Mindy’s thoughts and feelings and that of her adoptive father and mother.  Each had, of course, such different perspectives. This gave a complete picture mentally and emotionally of what so many children and families faced. I had not even considered the racial and political hurdles they would have to handle, not only in their communities but within extended family.  For me this added to the challenges of trying to give a child love and security while making them a part of your family.  In addition, these sweet little ones had no way of telling you the horrors they had seen. Mindy’s new family was loving, accepting, and wonderful, she always felt as if she did not belong.  As an adult she found herself wanting to meet her birth family.  Her desire was muddled with fear, doubt, and insecurity of what she might find out.  Her parents supported her 100% by helping her work through her maze of emotions.

Not only did I enjoy Mindy’s story, but also the closeness and love the family shared.  I enjoyed their humor and sensitivity toward one another and so many happy times.

Ms. Finkbeiner has a unique way of making her stories personal and real.  For me, this book brought to life what might have happened to those children and their new families.

100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety By Bethany House Publishers

This book is not what I was expecting but in a very good way!  Being a worry wart has been a struggle for me most of my adult life.  In the last few years due to health issues, family losses and medication changes, my battle with worry and anxiety has reached an all-time high.  So of course my interest was piqued in reading this book. I was expecting to find the best known and loved scriptures concerning this subject and an application or story to go with them. 

I am pleased to say I found much more!  This book goes much deeper than that!  Yes it has those comforting verses but it also has truths from the Bible that remind a Christian of their foundation in Christ and the true Source of all comfort.

Each page with a verse has four parts:

Context: This gives a background what is going on in the scripture, in relation to the lesson, the events and the people involved.

Meaning: I found this very helpful.  It fleshes out the verse with visualization, feelings, and thoughts.  I found many helpful insights in the section.

Application: I think of the three, this one helped the most.  When you are caught up in anxiety your thinking can get muddled.  This part gave me direction in how to use what I had read and learned.

At the end of each section are included more scriptures to read. Far more than just a Bible references to verses. A wonderful book!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Betty Greene By Janet and Geoff Benge

Betty’s desire to be a pilot blossomed at the very young age of 8 years old, and that dream never diminished.  Her mother pushed her into enrolling in nursing school, but after two years she dropped out.  All she wanted to do was fly!  In 1940 she was visiting a 70 year old neighbor, and poured out her frustrations about what to do with her life.   The wise old woman asked her what she loved doing the most and Betty’s answers were flying and helping with the youth group at church. Her neighbor pointed out she could do both by helping by flying for Christian missions. Once she got home she prayed and told God that although she had never heard of anyone flying to spread the gospel, if it was what He wanted her to do, He would work it out. Just a few weeks after her prayer, she heard of a civilian pilot training.  She enrolled and was accepted.  From that point on God continued to move with opportunity after opportunity in training and experience.  Being an eager student Betty excelled in everything she did.  She flew for Women’s Airforce Service in World War 2. She is honored with the title of the first woman to fly over the Andes and also to be allowed to fly over Sudan (women pilots were not allowed at that time). With 3 other men she helped found and Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship. Now the Mission Aviation Fellowship. Her adventures were incredible; flying to isolated jungle areas, staying with missionaries, hiking through the jungle, and repairing planes in remote areas.  She even coordinated and flew missions across many continents which was no easy feat with numerous stops for fueling plus time to rest, all in different countries!  I found all she did mind boggling, but the planning and knowledge it took to accomplish this was incredible.  She had so many close calls, emergency situations, illness and just downright scary circumstances.  Betty loved every minute of it and never wavered.  I won’t even travel to another state alone in a car!  What I found most impressive was all of this was done with her intense devotion to God and desire to serve Him. One amazing lady! 

Thank you to YWAM Publishing for a providing this book for me to review.  The opinions stated are my own.

Come Back To Me By Jody Hedlund

I always enjoy reading Jody Hedlund’s books.  This one really caught my eye. While I am not a fan of time travel this one was different, especially being my favorite genre, historical romance!

After his wife died from a rare genetic disorder and upon finding his daughter, Ellen also inherited it; Marian’s father poured his life into finding a cure.   His theory was that water that had come in contact with seeds from the Tree of Life had the power to transport people back in time and cure any disease in the present day.  It was so outlandish she just chalked it up to him possibly being mentally off.  That is until she is summoned to his bedside in England where he lay in a coma.  As she follows cryptic clues he had left her she quickly realizes he was onto something. 

Upon finding an ancient flask he has left with a residue of the water, she experiences passing back in time.  Convinced this is something that can save her sister and bring her father out of a coma; she drinks some of the water.  She finds herself transported back to the middle ages where she meets Will Durham, a handsome and brave knight for the King of England.  The adventures she faces not to mention the time restraints to return to present day are harrowing!   What an adventure!  I found myself actually becoming anxious. I loved the detailed description of her experiences in the late 1300’s from the view point of a 21 century woman!  I must admit she took it in stride much better than I would have.  I felt her yearning for a hot shower and a cup of coffee.  There was much Marian  could not have for seen in facing but she never dreamed she would fall in love.    What a story; suspense, excitement, and mystery!   I read at night to go to sleep and for 3 nights it was the wee hours of the morning before I could put it down!  The only part I did not like about the book was, while in good taste, there were way too many parts of steamy sensuality between Marian and Will.  I was a bit surprised with it being a Christian novel.   Otherwise it was a really great, unique book! 

I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Helen Roseveare By Janet and Geoff Benge

Helen was raised in family of financial means. Her father placed great importance on her receiving a good education.   She worked hard and acquired a medical degree, not to make money but to use the skills as a missionary.  She was a rarity in her time, not only as a female physician but also as a doctor on the mission field.  I loved how the Lord guided her through sermons, scriptures, and the guidance of other Christians.  He led her to the Congo.  Here women were not respected by the nationals.  She had many hurdles to overcome in addition to the dangerous political upheaval of the country and how impoverished the area was. Upon her arrival she was put the work the very next day. The clinic had 500 – 1000 people waiting for medical help.  Many had traveled long distances on foot.  There were diseases and injuries she had never seen or been trained for in medical school. 

Her energy and motivation amazed me.  She didn’t just serve as a doctor but also trained medical workers, established nursing schools, and built hospitals in her career. This is quite astounding considering how little there was to work with regarding supplies, materials and workers.  Her strong willed attitude which aided in success also caused on going struggles and conflicts with her colleagues.  This distressed her greatly. When a civil war broke out and other missionaries were leaving, Helen stayed. At one point rebels destroyed her clinic, and was held hostage.  She was violently physically, emotionally and sexually abused for 5 months before she was rescued. In spite of this after recovering at home in England she returned to the Congo. She was broken hearted at the destruction of all she had built and condition of the people. Memories and fear of what she endured were always with her.  She continued there 7more years trying to rebuild even making further improvements.

I was shocked at all the suffering Helen faced during her time of service. Her courage, faith and strength left me in awe.  What incredible situations she went through and still desired to serve God. She left after 20 years of service, returning once to see how her work still flourished.  God truly created a legacy through her. 

Helen Roseveare is a missionary I had not heard of.  This one thing I like about the Benge’s Christian biographies.  They write about incredible people that many do not know of.

Thank you to YWAM Publishing for a providing this book for me to review.  The opinions stated are my own.