Keturah By Lisa T. Bergren

“Keturah” what an unusual name! This is the first thing that drew my attention to the book. The story is as unique as its name. Being the oldest of three girls, responsibility falls heavily on Keturah’s shoulders when they receive word their Father has died. Their mother has already passed on and their Dad was absent much of their lives making his fortune with a plantation on the island in the West Indies. Unfortunately the estate is not doing well and the girls could lose everything. Unable to provide for them Keturah makes the decision to leave their beloved home in England and try to restore the plantation. Also traveling there is her childhood friend Gary Covington with whom her friendship was severed due to his unscrupulous youth. He too hopes to salvage his family plantation and protect the girls.
At a young age she is already a widow and carries the emotional scars of an abusive husband. Not only has this led her vow to never marry but has also made her stubborn, headstrong woman, determined to do everything on her own.
Even for the wealthy sea travel was no piece of cake. I was fascinated by the author’s vivid description of a long sea voyage during that period. It was dangerous, miserable, boring and exhausting. Single women were certainly not safe traveling alone with the sailors and other men on the ship. I have no clue how they survived in the tight space they were given!
Getting there was only a small part of the battle. That era was a “man’s world” and the cruelty, rejection and prejudice against the women was more than I could have imagined. The abusiveness, with which the slaves were treated, broke my heart! Seemingly insurmountable obstacles, loneliness, exhausting work and painful secrets didn’t stop her. Her headstrongness served her well. I admired her strong faith in God and choosing to look at her blessings when all seemed to be falling apart. I learned a many new details about that era. A beautiful story!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

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Transitions By Becky Hawkins

I have had the privilege of hearing the author speak at funeral services. Her words always touched by heart and inspired me, so when I heard she had written a book, I wanted to read it! Her sincerity, compassion and beautiful way of expressing herself is reflected in every page of this book.
The book is a written reflection of Ms. Hawkins heart and love for others and desire to care for those passing from this world into eternity. Her patients were so blessed to have her! Hospice nurses go beyond just physical care as they know there will be no healing for their patients. The family knows their loved one is going to be taken from them. I was moved by how Ms. Hawkins simultaneously gave concern and help not only for the dying but also for the family members.
In this book she shares short stories of different patients throughout her career. All are very personal and moving. The detail in which the author shows her empathy and depth of caring was very inspirational for me. There is humor as well as grief. Each one is a testimony that Becky has a special gift that comes from a deep faith in God that she brings into the lives of those she serves.
My husband died 5 years ago and I found this book very comforting. While it does deal with sadness and grief, it is filled with hope! Becky gave the greatest medicine a nurse can give to a patient: a part of herself. A unique and inspiring book, one everyone will want to read!

Breaking the Fear Cycle By Maria Furlough

I related to this book as soon as I read the title. The fear cycle, yes I know it well for many years. The picture pops in my head of a bicycle wheel going around and around. There are times that my fears would fade only to be brought back full force by thoughts or circumstances. I know from experience it is a vicious “cycle”.
I know God in His Word says “do not fear” but I have been caught in its endless circle.
Ms. Furlough’s book is light shining on this dark problem all believers face. She openly and honestly shares her journey in overcoming this debilitating stronghold Satan builds in our lives. The lessons she learned are the reader’s blessings. She asks questions I knew the answer to but was afraid (yes fear again) to face. The gentle way she nudged me into facing my fears, some I had not even named.
I like that she didn’t just talk about the problem but through scripture and reflection guided me with workable solutions defeat this foe in my life. She doesn’t sugar coat the fact that it will be a battle I have to fight with the Lord beside me, reminding me that my weapon is scripture. The 14 promises in scripture that God will protect me will be something I will use from now on.
Sharing her personal fears and struggles with them not only were uplifting but made me feel she truly understands! With God we have nothing fear and the old saying popped into my head, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Yes! I want “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” in Philippians 4:7
It is not a read it once book. You will want to read it, highlight in it, and make notes. I feel now I have a scriptural battle plan and the mindset truly have victory. It is going to be a process and a journey but so worth it!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Rescue By Jim Cymbala, Contributor Ann Spangler

Seven different, people, seven different messed up lives, and one loving God. Anyone looking from the outside would say they have no chance of ever changing but thank goodness God doesn’t look on the outside! It might also appear that their situations were so dire and far gone that they had no hope. But with God all things are possible! To society these people would seem to be broken beyond repair but enter the Lord and His miraculous healing and love.
I have read inspirational stories about God redeeming people deep in, but I found this one to be a bit different. The people tell their own stories in a very detailed and personal way. I could feel their despair and misery through their words. I also felt their amazement and joy when they met the Lord and he changed their lives forever. Some of them were victims of the wrongs of others, and some put themselves where they were at by their own choices.
I was reminded of the quote by R. Zaccharias “ Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” The stories brought to light how a transgression will multiply into many as time goes on, and continues to grow worse until one surrenders to God’s intervention. I was blessed at reading the many different ways the Lord reached out and spoke to each person. It shows what a personal God He is. There is no cookie cutter pattern for God to touch a life. Thank goodness! They did not even know they needed Him, but He came to them and met them where they were at. No matter how far the individuals had fallen, when they accepted Christ the changes were permanent. How wonderful to read about their lives before Christ and after. I was amazed.
One the biggest ways this book spoke to me was that although my problems may not be of the same magnitude, He will do miraculous things for me too! His power is limitless in all areas! I knew this already but the book brought it home even closer. Jeremiah 33:3 came to my mind, “ Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” This book was so encouraging and hope filled! What testimonies of God’s love and power today!
I received this book from Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage By Julie Klassen

I was well into this book before I realized it was a continuation of the previous one, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. To me this shows it can absolutely be read as a standalone! I had trouble getting into the story, it was a slow start, but I am so glad I continued! It was a rewarding read!
There are a lot of characters but Ms. Klassen did a stellar job of making it easy to keep them straight by her detailed personalization of their individual emotions, thoughts, and characteristics. She flawlessly wove in and out of each one’s experiences giving the story depth.
The 1800’s was not an easy time for a single woman, especially in providing for themselves. The book shares the lives of three such women. Jane is a widow who has the blessing of being proprietor deceased husband’s family. Rachel is alone due to the death of her father, but lost her inheritance and her only source of income. Mercy has given up finding love and resigned herself to spinsterhood. While each lady faces difficult challenges they have the strong support of one another. Romance blooms for each, but not without difficulty and heartache.
Even though Jane had a source of income, handling the stress and responsibility alone was challenging to say the least. It was no walk in the park! Though she was cheerful and caring, she carried a heavy load of grief in the loss of many children by miscarriage.
Of the three, Rachel had the least and solely relied on the kindness of her friends. Her story saddened me. She had lived in wealth and comfort before she lost her father. I feel her situation was the hardest to go from having everything to being homeless and penniless. I admired her spunk and determination to provide for herself and earn a living with what meager means there were.
Mercy, poor homely Mercy. She had such a sweet and loving spirit. Though her outside was plain her inside was beautiful. She ran a girl’s school and lived with her Aunt Matilda. I loved Aunt Matilda, she was such a hoot. Not only did she make me laugh but I enjoyed the spirit in which she shared her wisdom with the girls. Mercy was so dedicated to her students. Her home actually belonged to her brother who was living overseas. After he marries her meddling (and irritating) parents give her an ultimatum to marry a suitor they have introduced her to or lose everything. Her situation reminded me of how few choices women, especially from wealthy families, had during this time. Mercy wants to marry for love. But with her looks her parents feel she will be lucky if ANYONE will have her.
Each of the characters were inspiring in their faith, growth, and in spiritual lessons
Their lives taught. A wonderful read!
I received this book from Bethany House Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Borrowed Dream By Amanda Cabot

Catherine Whitfield is a school teacher in the Texas town of Cimarron City, in the late 1800’s. She cared deeply for all her students and was concerned about their welfare as well as their education. A new student, Hannah Goddard comes to school with her strikingly handsome widowed father. They had recently purchased a ranch and moved from Pennsylvania. His daughter is very unhappy and struggling to adjust. Unbeknownst to the town, he is not a rancher, but a doctor, attempting to hide and protect his daughter from a criminal. Catherine having just lost her mother due to the local doctor’s primitive medical treatment, has more on her mind that the attractive new man. Hilariously he is all the mothers in town with single daughters of a marriageable can think of. Although I laughed, I felt sorry for poor Austin trying to politely dodge all of them.
I found the story very entertaining and suspenseful but there were also some surprising parts. The first being Austin wasn’t just any doctor but a plastic surgeon! I didn’t even know there were any back then! My first thoughts were, “There weren’t face lifts, breast plants or liposuction, and so what did they do?” After some research I found they did reconstructive surgery on severe injuries. Many of their patients were soldiers injured in battle. Conniving and hardened criminals were just as much present then as now. Just such a one was in pursuit of Austin to force him to use his skills evil plans.
I naively have pictured the era that this was written in as far simpler than our society today. It surprised me that the same problems and corruptions existed in this era too! One of Catherine’s students’ is severely abused and neglected by his father. A young girl is raped and becomes pregnant. There were no government agencies or special law enforcements to help the victims or bring their perpetrators to justice. The care and protection of the innocent came from loving, kindhearted and caring people. It was a reminder that individuals were much more personally involved in the lives of their neighbors, especially in times of need. Ms. Cabot beautifully illustrates true forgiveness and godly character in the face of horrible circumstances and offenses. A wonderful book!
I received this book from Revell Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

1, 2, 3 GOD MADE ME By Pamela Kennedy

When I am reviewing a children’s book I always like to read it to one of my grandchildren if I can and to get their reaction. The closest one to this age is my 2 week old grandson! While know there would not be much of a response, I look forward to reading it to him many times as he grows older.
One thing that impressed me about this board book is that the cover is bound like a regular book. Talk about sturdy! The brightness of the illustrations and pages are dynamic. Sure to keep a small child’s attention.
Each page is written in rhyme. This is not only entertaining but also helps a youngster remember what was read. I see this book growing right along as little ones delight in learning to count, pointing to the pictures as the do. I especially like that while they enjoy all these wonderful things about the book, they are also being introduced to God and how he created us. Paraphrased scriptures appear at the bottom of some pages, yet another plus. A book worth getting for those special little folks in your life!
I received this book from B & H Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

21 Ways To Forgive: Plus 9 Reasons We Must Forgive By Wes Daughenbaugh

There are so many things I liked about this book except for one major flaw and I will mention it last. I found the cover was very eye catching! The brightly colored pencils and white background really caught my attention!
Forgiveness seems to be a great struggle for a lot of people, and it is so important to every aspect of our lives. The book is divided into 2 parts: Why We Must Forgive and Tools and Techniques of Forgiveness. The graphics are entertaining but also give excellent visuals of each concept. The personal illustrations and analogies are spot on for helping you retain each idea. Scriptures are used throughout to back up what you are learning.
The one thing that ruined the book for that I do not agree with the author’s belief (and it was the very first one listed) that you will go to Hell if you do not forgive someone. I do not believe this is what the Bible teaches. Since our salvation is based on God’s gift, not our works, I feel this is very misleading. Everything else in the book was excellent! Easy to read and understand.
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.”

Singing the Scriptures By Julie Meyer

It was many years ago when I learned heard about singing the scriptures. I have since then loved the idea as another way to praise and worship God. What better words to sing to God than His own. I pray them to Him but I want to sing them too. I was definitely interested in this book!
I have read that if we read, speak, and write something we will have a greater capacity to remember it. How much more so if we sing it too, and of all things we read the Bible is the most important to recall! In fact words set to music are easier to memorize, they naturally just stick in your mind. What about commercial jingles? How many of those do can we sing word for word even from out childhood?
God loves for us to sing to Him. He doesn’t care if we have a wonderful voice or not. He hears from our heart. Numerous times in scripture we find it as a command. Consider that the Lord placed an entire book on the Psalms sang to Him.
I must say I was a little apprehensive about how hard this might be, as I had studied a method of matching old hymns to Bible verses and it was quite daunting. Ms. Meyer’s method is very easy and doable for everyone. Just sing, make up a tune; anyone can do this! The book is filled with encouragement to step out and try. There are many testimonies the incredible change this practice has had on the author’s and others lives. She also brings out what the scriptures have to say about song and those who sang to Him. At the end of the chapters is a suggested prayer, questions to answer and a big bonus; the link address to Ms. Meyers’ website for a video to further instruction in this. I loved her passion and excited for this, it is contagious. A fantastic book!
I received this book from Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Where We Belong By Lynn Austin

I am a great fan of Lynn Austin’s and collect her books. They are always well written and very entertaining. This book showcased once again her talent for writing. I found its style to be a bit different than in the past but the book was still a 5 star!
The story was made even more intriguing by the fact that it was based on a true story. Sister’s Rebecca and Flora Hawes lived during the 1800’s. Even in this day they would be a most unique and non-conventional pair, but more so in the era they lived. Women just didn’t do what they did, especially from those in upper society. From a young age they both loved to travel but especially the oldest Rebecca. Their widowed father raised them to be self-sufficient, educated and has a strong faith in God. Through smart investing he became an incredibly wealthy man. Upon his death, their inheritance made them rich beyond imagination. Unlike most people they did not squander it nor were they prideful. They shunned elite society’s customs and imposed duties. Their focus was on God, His plan for their lives, and how their fortune could benefit others.
Through the years from their youth to adulthood they face so many changes, some very difficult but they never took their eyes off the Lord. It tickled me how the older sister, Rebecca always came up with the crazy adventure ideas and never failed to persuade Flora to come along even if she didn’t want to! I loved living through their bold exploits. I think the one I liked the best is when they skipped school to go work in a factory to see what it was like for the poor employees there. As I read, knowing these women really existed and did these things, it made the story that much more entertaining.
They had a delightful and quirky sense of humor which I loved. Their favorite saying of mine was, “God knows the hour of our end, so there’s no need to worry” and was frequently followed by, “But I hope it’s not right now”.
If found the book not only enjoyable but inspiring. Another incredible Lynn Austin read!
I received this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.