The Last Way Home By Liz Johnson

Eli is forced to return home after leaving in anger 11 years ago in an argument with his brother.  His budding NHL career is in shambles and shame.  He has nowhere else to go. There is more to his story than is being told. Violet has become a very loved and important part of the family.  She has untold secrets too.  She is very suspicious of him, his motives and possibly breaking his mother’s heart again. Neither believes they can be loved and forgiven because of their failures.

His big return home coincides with his mother’s and Violets beloved pottery business being destroyed by fire.   As he steps in to help his family (who other than his mother or not very happy to see him) his and Violet’s relationship begins to grow. 

This is such a beautiful story of forgiveness and healing, not only between family members but also with God. It isn’t an easy path the character’s move along but you can clearly see the Lord working in what they see as impossible situations to bring about His will.

I loved Eli’s personality, so fun loving, cheerful and compassionate; totally the opposite of Violet’s in the beginning.  The story shows that no failure is so great that God cannot bring good and blessings out of it.  That many times by caring the burden alone we keep the Lord from helping us and make our pain greater.  

I love Ms. Johnson’s books and romance always is done in good taste.  It is this time also but I found some the romantic moments and bit long and rather extreme in passion for my taste. I found myself skimming through those parts.   All in all another great book from the author! 

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

Falling Apart, Falling for You By Chris Posti

I was so happy to see a book about much older women!   I love the ones about youth but how refreshing to one about ladies my age and their experiences and perspectives!

I have not been to a high school reunion since I graduated 40 years ago.  My classmates are frozen in my mind from that time.  I still picture them as 17 and 18.  For four decades they have lived, changed and have an entire different life I know nothing about. 

Suzanne, Marla and Rachel are 3 high school friends that reunite for their 40th reunion for the first time since graduation.  Their lives have taken them on vastly diverse paths.  The old bonds are still there but they are very different women.

Susanne has lost her career of 19 years.  Rachel who has spent her life being a homemaker has suddenly lost her husband. (I related most to Rachel). Marla a highly successful, famous, professional has just sold her multi-million dollar business.  Each of these women facing loss, albeit unalike, still they must make many choices to refine their futures and new identities.  This was one of their many challenges I could relate now and as I neared my senior years.

Not only was it interesting for me to catch up on their pasts, but to have the full picture of how their lives had changed and been impacted since their teens.  Each woman was at a different level in her faith walk with God.  I loved watching them mature in the Lord with the challenges they were dealt.  Marla’s generosity and gifts to her friends was such fun to be a part of, like a fairy tale especially Rachel.  No matter what their level of success or how their lives had unfolded, each one had something special to offer each other and their community.  I look forward to reading book 2 of the series!! 

I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions I have stated are my own.

Cinched Companion Workbook: Applying 10 Lessons from Rahab to Our Lives Today By Kristine Brown

I am very picky about study guides that go with the books I read, and for a good reason.  I need them to be user friendly and help me study what I have learned. Some have too much in them to the point I struggle to work through them.  Others have just “fluff” lots of questions but no real meat to grasp and apply.  This one is just right! Ms. Brown has done a fantastic job!

The first plus I saw was that there is lots of room to write your thoughts, and answers.  When I study I like to record not only what I learn but also those special insights from the Lord.  Two or three blank lines are not enough for me.

Secondly there are numerous scripture references for each of the 10 lessons.  This is a must on my list.  How can I apply what I learn and seek the Lord without His Word?

Third, her questions are very thought provoking and prompt personal self-examination.  I dislike study guides that ask a lot of obvious questions. It makes me feel like I am doing busy work instead of learning.   This workbook is a guide for the reader to go even deeper looking into where their trust in God truly stands.

I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions I have stated are my own.

Cinched: Living with Unwavering Trust in an Unfailing God By Kristine Brown

This book came at a perfect time for me.  I am the queen of “what ifs” and my mind runs into crazy cycles of what catastrophic things could befall me or my loved ones.  Ms. Brown story humbled me and made me ashamed of my emotional “drama” I have been spinning over my minor health issues compared to her breast cancer diagnosis. 

With many Bible stories we become familiar with them through a lifetime of hearing and reading.  It becomes easy to miss the fact that these were real people who lived in that moment and the lessons God wants us to learn. So it was with me and Rahab’s story.  The author not only brought her to life for me but awakened me to all her possible emotions, doubts and fears she experienced.  Not at all different from my own.

This in turn led me to take a deeper look into my life when the future is unknown and frightening.  What stood out most is that I had not considered before was Rahab’s great faith and trust in God.  She staked her life and that of her family on a handful of men who promised to keep them safe when the city was invaded.  Yes she believed they would be true to their word, but foremost her trust was in God.  Did she worry; wonder if she made the right choice, struggle at following their commands?  I would say she did, just as I do when the future is filled with unknowns. 

At the end of each chapter are 2 sections: “Untying Old Habits” and “Living it Out”. The first is a prayer and focuses realizing the destructive patterns we fall into when confronted with problems.  The proverbial “old shoes” we slip into.  By identifying these we can begin to make God’s truths a part of our hearts and minds.  The second poses questions or suggestion on how we might personally apply the concepts we have learned.

I found this book very inspirational.  I feel it has helped me to not only recognize where I fall short in trusting God but also in changing my way of thinking and emotional choices.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

The Sweet Life By Suzanne Woods Fisher

Dawn Dixon had the world by the tail.  She was a successful CPA with a big firm and looking forward to career changing promotion.  Everything was prepared and she was just 2 months away from marrying her childhood sweetheart and best friend.  Then it all came crashing down.  Kevin, her finance canceled the wedding.  As if things could not be worse she finds her mother, Marnie had breast cancer surgery and treatment without her knowledge! 

So what’s a girl to do?  Hurting for her Mom and herself she decides they both need a break and she invites her to go with her to her honeymoon destination in Cape Cod, since the reservations can’t be canceled.

She isn’t sure how this will work out as her and her mom are polar opposites.  She is OCD in her planning and a control freak.  Marnie on the other hand is a totally spontaneous free spirit with no boundaries!

Expecting the ocean and surroundings to be healing for both of them all is well, right?  What she isn’t prepared for is Marnie to buy a dilapidated ice cream shop in the historical part of town!  Dawn and her deceased father’s love of ice cream and pursuit of finding the perfect recipe was Marnie’s motivation.  A new start for both of them!  The problem was she didn’t’ tell Dawn until AFTER the purchase.  Stress does not even begin to describe Dawn’s feelings!  She stays on in hope of undoing the mistake she feels her mother has made, but there are more surprises ahead.

This was such a fun read!  The description of the ocean and the sea side community was a getaway for me!  I was caught up in Marnie’s enthusiasm and plans for the shop.  I could also feel Dawn’s stress and confusion at trying to be in control of everything.  I have succumbed to this attitude in the past when circumstances have overwhelmed me. Ice cream wise, I am a cookies and cream girl, but Dawn’s unusual flavor creations made me wish I could try them.  I loved seeing the spiritual transformation of both women. I could relate. Marnie had great faith in God but struggled to release it in other areas.  Dawn lacked faith in allow God be in control not only her life but those she loved.  Both found that through life’s greatest trials God bring the most beautiful blessings and changes!  I am so excited this is a series and cannot wait to read the next book!

I received this book from Revell in exchange for a positive review.  The ideas expressed are my own.

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Where the Road Bends By Rachel Fordham

Norah King has lost both her parents, has no living family, and is about to lose her land.  It isn’t just land per se; it is part of her childhood and a deep connection to her parents.  So strong is her bond to it that she is prepared to marry a man she barely knows.  He will save her, save her land, and they will grow to care about each other, right?

While walking around her precious farm she finds an injured man about to be lunch to the vultures.  Moved with compassion, she manages to get him back to her house, call a doctor and care for him until he recovers.  Quincy Barnes has had a less than respectable life, finding himself pretty much and the end of his rope before Nora found him. 

Something magical happens between the two.  Love blooms and she instills hope in him to start over.  Their relationship would jeopardize her plans to save her heritage, and Quincy has nothing to offer in the way of help.  With a heavy heart he leaves.  Two years later their paths cross again and he I able to help her. 

This is a beautiful romance but it is more than just that.   Two very different people face crushing setbacks, heart breaking circumstances and seemingly insurmountable odds.  Yet they do not falter in seeking God’s guidance and encouragement.    

I loved the way they were both total opposites but their deep love moved them to put one another first.  They faced such severe circumstances but overcame each one, alone and together with grace and faith.  A heartwarming and touching story you will want to read!

I received this book from Revell Publishing through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. The opinions stated are my own.

Looking for Leroy By Melody Carlson

Most people have a “first love” they remember from their teen years.  Few ever meet again.  Leroy and Brynna were that exception.  30 years has passed a lot of life since they fell in love at a summer camp.  After a short correspondence Brynna marries her ex-high school crush who turns out to be a total loser. After years of heartache and infidelity they divorce.  Leroy marries, has 3 daughters and runs his family’s vineyard.  His wife has passed away. 

Struggling to put her life back together, Brynna agrees impulsively to go on a camping vacation with a co-worker at the school where she teaches.  Traveling through California and the area that fated summer camp is located, Brynna’s memories are triggered.  She shares this with Jan during a relaxed campfire moment. Her friend comes up with the scathingly brilliant idea that they find Leroy!  Brynna remembers his family owned a winery in the area and that sets Jan off on a search much against her friend’s will.  They locate Leroy and his winery and that’s when a most unusual, complicated, and crazy reunion begins.

I felt sorry for Brynna with who was already in emotional turmoil over her divorce and Jan pushing her into trying to arrange this reunion.  I totally understood her reluctance and insecurity but also became frustrated with her indecisiveness with so many decisions.  I have to admit I admired her adaptability in a very difficult situation!  

It was interesting to see how many changes were in both their personalities, yet their core qualities remained the same after all these years.  I mean who wouldn’t change some after 30 years!

One of my favorite parts of the book was the cottage Brynna stayed in, so beautiful and cozy.  The descriptions of the décor made me feel as if I was walking through the door and seeing it myself.  I think this is because the simplicity and comfort that was there.  Something I want to have in my life at difficult times. 

My favorite character was Sophie, Leroy’s daughter.  She was so down to earth and sweet.  Her energy, juggling her family, helping her father, and still able to have compassion for Brynna warmed my heart.

Be prepared, this story has many twists, turns, surprises and sweet moments.  I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. because I couldn’t put it down.  Insomnia alert!  LOL

Another amazing Melody Carlson book!

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

Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus By Sarah Geringer

This book gets a 10 star rating from me!  It is one you will not only give a permanent place on your book shelf, but, take notes, study and read over and over! It is definitely a keeper in my library! Meditation on Scripture is a much neglected discipline in most Christian’s lives.  Probably because many of us do not know where to start or how to do it.

It is easy to read and study.  I am not a big one for personal experiences by an author.  There are times it seems to actually take away from what they are trying to share.  Not so with Ms. Geringer!  She shares from the heart and often on a very personal level.  Her transparency helps the reader to honestly evaluate not only their thoughts but the source of them. Each chapter deals with the different thoughts one might have: guilty, negative, fearful, etc.  But this is only the beginning. There are 17 in all.  Many you may have never considered.

That’s what this book is all about, how get control of your thought life by meditating on scripture.  The author teaches you how to turn those thoughts into meditation on God’s Word.   She doesn’t’ leave you hanging there. For each of the categories she gives you a clear plan for conquering and transforming your mind by turning to Bible verses that apply these specifically to these challenges. There are suggested scriptures and at the end of each chapter there are questions to reflect on and a prayer.  Trust me! This is a life changing book! 

When the Meadow Blooms  By Ann H. Gabhart

One of the things I love about Ms. Gabhart’s books is the stories and characters are so different!  She always has such unique and original storylines and characters. 

Rose Meadows has had a hard life.  She is now a widow and has to young girls to care for.  She has been left destitute and on top of that she has tuberculosis.  It was 1925 and the only treatment for the disease was admission to a TB hospital where the patient received healthy food, fresh air and rest.  The average stay was 6 – 9 months, but poor Rose had been there 2 years.  With no other alternative she had to place her girls in an orphanage until she was well.  She has had all she can of the separation and wants to leave, but where will she go and how will she support her children?

She has no family, and the only person she can turn to is her deceased husband brother, Dirk, whom she has only met once.  Without either of them knowing her and her oldest daughter write him asking to come and stay at the family farm.  He comes to their rescue, but it is not as simple as that.  Dirk is a loner and has many things from his past to heal from.

This book was such a beautiful example of how God can heal anyone’s heart.  Each character had trauma and only the Lord could restore their hearts and lives.  Rose’s sweet patient spirit with the surly distant Dirk was a beautiful example persevering and trusting God when dealing with difficult people.  She saw in him what he could not see in himself.  Her acceptance of her weakened health and gratefulness for what the Lord had provided is inspirational.

 I loved the courage of the girls in facing their insecurities and fears.  How I wish I had Sienna’s joyful attitude and ability to focusing on the beauty of what was around her. 

Be ready to cry, rejoice and be surprised at the many developments in their relationships as God works to restore their lives! Another wonderful book from the author!  I can’t wait to read her next one!

I received this book from Revell Publishers through www.Librarything.com early reader program.  The opinions stated are my own.

Sea Glass Cottage By Irene Hannon

I am still working on reading all the Hope Harbor book series!  With each one I find myself back at the little seaside town.  It gives me a warm cozy feeling with that little town atmosphere where residents are close and caring.  I wish it really existed, but since it doesn’t I am content to escape into the pages and visit. The author’s beautiful descriptions of the streets, businesses, and sea side make me feel as if I am really there.  *sigh*

Christi Reece was once a wealthy, spoiled socialite with the world at her feet.  Through many hardships and losses, she is a poor, hardworking young woman that finds herself in a difficult situation and in need of money.  Her last resort is to humble herself and go to her ex-boyfriend Jack Colby to ask for a loan.  This takes a great deal of courage as she very deeply hurt him and they have not seen each other in 11 years!

Jack remembers the old Christi and does not realize she has become a Christian and is totally opposite of the girl he once loved. He just wants her to leave! I love how Christi’s new life in Christ shines through with her patient, gentle, sweet spirit. I found it exciting to see how the Lord continues to guide and provide for her as she trusts Him with impossible situations.  It was beautiful to see Jack’s bitter unforgiving attitude be changed by her testimony.

Of course one of my favorite characters, Charley the artist and fish taco truck owner is still there.  I always enjoy how he does the Lord’s work with wisdom and clever insight.  Christi and Jack aren’t the only residents of Hope Harbor that God is working to restore their romance and relationship. I also enjoyed the surprises along the way. I am looking forward to the next book and my next visit! 

I received this book from Revell Publishers through www.Librarything.com early reader program.  The opinions stated are my own.