Deeds of Darkness By Mel Starr

I cannot get enough of Mel Starr’s books!!! He could write one every month and I would still want to read more! I have all is books and each one is a keeper!
As with all his books, the setting is in the late 1400’s in England. Once again, Hugh deSingleton, bailiff and surgeon to Lord Gilbert Talbot, is off to solve another murder mystery. From the minute I opened the book I could not put it down. Even though each book is the same era and Hugh is the main character, they are never the same! This is crime fighting in the raw as there are obviously no DNA testing or computer data bases to aid in the search for criminals. Hugh never ceases to amazing me with his attention to the minutest details and brilliant deductions with the sparse information he is given. With his great sense of humor and incredible sleuthing I am laughing one minute and trying to guess the outcome another. There is also a wealth of historical information of the customs and ideas of the era. As always, I especially enjoy the surgical practices and family life of the time not often highlighted in murder mysteries. I find the glossary of words from that age at the front of the book extremely interesting. Do you know what a dibble stick, a runcie, or hamsoken is?
Once again Hugh is involved in another murder investigation. A local resident of Bampton has gone missing and his son comes to him for help. His father was headed to Oxford, an hour away to do business which would involve 2 days including an overnight stay at the monastery along the way. Keep in mind most people walked the distance. The father never returned. In his searching Hugh finds that there have been more killings and assaults on this much traveled road. It appears to involve 4 assailants dressed as monks. In addition, many homes are being robbed in both towns.
As usual he has limited clues to go on, gathering a few here and there as he searches. He hates leaving his wife and children with the frequent, long, and dangerous travel between the two towns this job entails. It is concerning because he and his family’s safety are in jeopardy, not only because of the lawbreakers but simply living in medieval times. Another wonderful book by Mel Starr! Immersed in history and suspense! A book you will want to read!
I received this book from Kregel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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Look & Find Bible Storybook By Gill Guile

Being a bookworm I have naturally involved books in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives. In a few months I will be welcoming a new grand baby so my hunt for quality children’s books has gone into high gear again! This one checks all the boxes and more!
The soft vinyl cover is easy to wipe clean and brightly colored. A must for book survival with young children, especially if they enjoy it a lot! I like the large almost 8 1/2” by 12”.
There 8 Bible stories in the book, each 1 page long and written with a child’s understanding in mind. This is just the right length to share the details of the story, but short enough to hold a young one’s attention. The scripture reference is included, that can be read in addition for older children. When the story is done, the page folds out into a 25 inch spread! The far left page has checklist of pictures to find. Included are a few of the pictures to help them getting started.
The pages are super heavy and vinyl coated so they can used with a dry erase marker to circle their “finds” This adds even more fun as the child can become involved at another level
The other 2 pages are a vividly colored, cutely illustrated pictures related to the Bible story, containing within them the objects on the list. They will not only enjoy hunting but also looking at the many details in the picture. I am sure as they grow older they will be able to find the pictures easily but that is not a negative. This will make them feel very big and accomplished.
I am very happy with this book! I will be such fun and make wonderful memories while including God’s Word in that special time you spend together. A great gift or addition to a grandparent’s library. This would be fun to use in a children’s Sunday School classes too. I can’t wait to share it with my new grandson!
I received this book from B & H Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have state are my own.

Cherished Mercy By Tracie Peterson

I have read the 1st book in this series and now this one (the 3rd). They can be read as a standalones. I am waiting on book number 2 now. While a very young girl Mercy Flanagan had lived through the Whitman Massacre. I was in awe that after being part of such a horrific experience and losing her parents, that she would want to return to the area. Their dear family friend Eletta Browning was expecting and needed care and help with their young daughter. Her willingness to go was three fold: bored with her life in Oregon City, she wants to spread her wings, her desire to help the Browning family, and deep love of and desire to minister the Tututni Indians. She wanted to share God with them but also promote peace between them and the white man. Her sisters are concerned if she will be safe but are assured no harm will come to her. They concede with trepidation as this is their baby sister.
She travels to the Rogue Valley Mission. There she also meets Adam, a strong influence and Christian leader at the mission. Both have no desire to marry. Mercy’s has no interest in finding a spouse and Adam has hurts from the past that have built walls toward any romantic involvement. Both are caught off guard when find themselves strongly attracted to each other. They deny it to themselves and try to explain it away but their hearts won’t listen.
Problems do arise and to the point and their lives are in danger. Mercy’s strength and courage amazed me. It was an eye opener to see all she had to do to perform even simple tasks. I guess living with so many conveniences now I expected her to be complaining about all the work! Hardship was a way of life. The Brownings, Adam and Mercy’s reliance on God was deep. He was the first One they turned to whether the need be large or small. If something was lacking they had to find a way to supply it; if there was danger there was 911 to call. It made me think how much we rely on all we have available rather than crying out to God first. The story is suspenseful, exciting, and filled with so many examples of godly character. I truly enjoyed this book as I do all of Ms. Peterson’s.
I received this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus By Asheritah Ciuciu

I have always been intensely interested in the names of Jesus and God. They aren’t just names they have much deeper means. I couldn’t wait to read this book! Right away the cover drew me in. It is so pretty and festive! I love the title too! Christmas is associated of course with the giving and opening of material gifts. While is nothing wrong with giving and receiving gifts, unfortunately it has become the focus of the holiday instead of Christ’s birth. We forget to “unwrap” the greatest gift we will ever receive, Jesus!
There are 4 weeks devotionals divided into five days each and one for Christmas day. Everyday centers around a name of Jesus. The 4 sections begin with an introduction and lighting the advent candle. Verses to read, discussion questions and a suggested Christmas carol to sing. These are a great start for the ones that follow. The daily devotions are short but well written and include scriptures. At the end of all of them is a prayer, a challenge and more scriptures to study. (I like that!) When you finish the 5 days, there is more!! Listed are service focused activities to choose from that your family can together that focus on Christ.
This book is beautiful inside and out! It adds so much meaning to celebrating Christmas!
It would be great for a family, group, or personal study to be used year after year! I wish I could give Ms. Ciuciu’s book 6 stars! I found it inspiring and a great blessing!
I received a free copy of this devotional in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck By Bethany Turner

Sarah had it all…well she thought she had it all. She was married to her high school sweetheart, she was a famous writer of sleazy romance novels, and extremely wealthy, then her marriage begins to fail. Her world falls apart when she finds her husband cheating on her in their home. After her divorce she feels confused and unhinged. Her friend, Piper, reaches out to her and leads her to Christ. On her very first visit to Piper’s church she meets the minister, Ben. They are both are instantly smitten with each other. A bit of a complicated situation considering he is a man of God and she is the writer of X-rated books? She is a new creature in Christ and wants to follow Him in all areas of her life including her writing.
This book’s story line is unusual in several ways. First, I have never read Christian fiction about a newborn Christian and their spiritual growth. Many of us as believers may have forgotten the newness of our walk with God and total dedication to the Lord. Sarah’s new life is a reminder of that sweet season and also how easily we can lose that focus as time goes on. I enjoyed watching her learn God’s ways and strive to change when He convicted her of sin. Her hunger to learn and obey the Lord was so wonderful!
The story addresses passion and physical desire between a single man and woman that honor God’s guidelines for purity before marriage. The author handles this in a very tasteful way. The temptations and difficulties faced were so true-to-life. Being attracted to the opposite sex is a natural part of how we are created. What is important is how it is handled according to God’s Word. I loved the cleverness and humor throughout the book.
I understand what the author was trying to convey, but was disappointed that Ben and Sarah’s relationship seemed rather one dimensional, focusing on the physical and not the other aspects of a healthy relationship that grows toward marriage. In addition, Ben as a pastor didn’t seem interested in discipling his new convert. I found the book unusual and entertaining.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

This is Ms. Politano’s first book and I know without a doubt I will want to read anything she publishes! What a talented writer! I was hooked after I read the first page!
The setting is in England during the 1860’s. Debtor’s prisons were notorious then. Those who owed were locked up until they could pay their debts or someone else would pay for them. Aurelie Harcout grew up in one such prison with her father. He was a famous writer with the penname of Nathaniel Droll. He dies and without finishing the ending to his novel, “Lady Jayne Disappears”. She purposes to finish it under her father’s professional name. All she knows of his wealthy family are the stories he has told. Lady Jayne was her mother. Now left in total poverty and all alone, she is summoned and escorted to the infamous Lynhurst Manor, her father’s family home. She had never met his family. When she arrived they were expecting his personal affects, not a young woman!
Although she grew up in the prison, she is a beautiful, articulate, young woman with strong character. Entering the world outside would have been enough of transition for her, but to be thrust into high society with such a cold, unwelcoming, secretive family was over the top. Though she was only 20, her maturity and strength allowed her to cope with such dignity and grace. I love her sweet and innocent spirit.
This is a wholesome Christian mystery thriller. The plot was outstanding! There were so many surprising developments and totally unexpected turns that I couldn’t put the book down. Don’t’ expect to pre-guess the outcome of any part and prepare to be astonished over and over.
I am finding it difficult to write this review as how to you describe a masterpiece! I can say this; you will WANT to read this book! Ms. Politano has been “engraved” into my favorite author’s list. I cannot wait to read her next book in 2018. I hope she writes many many more!
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Psalm-Hymns: Books 1, 2 & 3 By L. L. Larkins

I have wanted to find a book like this for years. I would have liked the exact KJV scriptures set to music, but I am very pleased with this! The songs are based on Psalms 1 through 89. There were no parts of scriptures in these as I expected, but each one conveys the idea of that Psalm. Each one is set to a recognizable hymn. I was happily surprised that the songs were very easy to sing to the suggested tunes.
At the end of most of the pieces are notes (I prefer to look at them as mini devotionals) discussing the particular scripture. Included are numerous scripture references to read. Lots of scripture is a big plus for me in any book.I felt this made it more than just a song to sing.
I understand this can be used in with a group, but my desire was for my personal time with God. The Word says the Lord loves for us to sing praises to Him. This is something I have wanted to incorporate in my daily personal worship. I feel it draws me closer to Him and prepares my heart and mind for the day. A church hymnal is of course a great source but Psalm Hymns adds even more choices. I love the concept of reading that particular Psalm and singing a song specifically for it.
For in whatever way you choose to use this book, it is a true treasure!
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 with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Sacred Slow By Alicia Britt Chole

This is the second book I have read about slowing down and getting closer to the Lord. I think He is trying to speak to me! Ms. Chole’s book brought some questions to mind right away. Why I am a running life as a race? Where do I think I am racing to? Exactly what finish line am I trying to reach?
This is another very unusual devotional book and I like it! I have truly endeavored to be as close to God as I can but I seem to have periodic bumps in the road where I become side-tracked by life’s “to do” list. At those points I speed ahead leaving behind my relationship with my Savior and my resolve to know Him better.
This book is not one to rush through; it is not a project to be checked off, but one to study and meditate on. The author certainly didn’t rush to compile it! This book is 31 years of Ms. Chole’s hard work to bring it to print! As a mentor and international speaker it is no wonder this book is filled with such treasures. How exciting to receive professional mentoring for the price of a book! I checked out her website and love it she calls herself, Dr. ABC.
There are 52 devotionals. Each one contains a Thought focus and an Exercise with questions to act on or simply ponder. I found many great for reflection and inward searching while others didn’t really resonate with me. That wasn’t a negative as they were still a springboard for my own questions and ideas. You will definitely want to keep a pen and notebook on hand! A superb book that will change you!
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Crazy Holy Grace By Frederick Buechner

Loss of any kind, losing a loved one, divorce, any devastating event that changes our lives, is so traumatic and we are never prepared for how complicated it is mentally, emotionally and physically. The tsunami of grief takes our breath away and catches us by surprise for far longer and much deeper than we ever dreamed. It’s been four years since I lost my sweetheart and I am still on the journey.
Some of the best books I have read on death are the ones (like this one) where they author shares their personal story. I am able to relate to areas they share but also feel a common bond of not being alone. Although experiences are varied from person to person there are some common denominators such as two the author addresses in his book: struggling with the pain and dealing with the memories. In these we can all connect.
I appreciated Mr. Buechner’s transparency and honestly in sharing such personal parts of his life. I know people that have tried to avoid grief, pushing away pain and memoires. I love the way Buechner shows us, with God’s help, that there is a path to healing, and remembering the past along with facing our pain is the way to begin. We can get so wrapped up and hyper-focused on our sorrow, (which is normal) that we isolate ourselves from God’s help and that of others. The last part of the book is a gold mine of the author’s varied thoughts concerning loss. It is titled “Secrets, Grace, and the Way God speaks. A few of the subjects are: depression, suicide, tears, dying, letting go and more. I found this book to be very sincere and most of all hopeful.
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life By Frederick Buechner

There is nothing ordinary about life it is only when we become desensitized to it and look only for the extraordinary it becomes mundane. This is my second book by the author, and once again I find him a very personal and thoughtful writer.
By rushing through daily life with worldly pursuits, and concerns, we fail to see the truly amazing things God has placed and is doing in our lives. How sad! He who loves us and is so intimately involved in every detail of our life, that He knows the number of hairs on our heads as much to reveal to us.
This book made me think how much I am missing! He is working in very moment and experience in my life. I thought of how we don’t see God working because we aren’t looking for the touch of His hand in the minutest details. My existence on this earth is not random in any aspect. Nothing that happens to me is by chance but part of His personal orchestrated design. I realized I have a tendency to see things in a rather black and white fashion, good, bad, happy sad, when there is so much more I am missing! This applies even in times of failure and pain.
It reminds me of children opening Christmas gifts. They whiz thorough, ripping and tearing paper, moving on to the next present. In their youthful exuberance they fail to savor the moment and enjoy the awe of the gift. Are we not the same?
This book is a wake-up call to quit hurrying from one moment, day, happening to the next. I cannot imagine how much richer my life would be if I looked for Him in all things.
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.