Staying Alive: A Love Story By Laura B. Hayden

Having suddenly lost my precious husband 6 months ago, I have been reading many books that have to do with losing a loved one and whatever insight and help I might find on this painful pathway I have begun. That is the reason I decided to read this book.
Instead of finding a “how to help me book”, I found a beautiful, sincere memoir of a woman mourning the death of her husband. Yet while dealing with all the realities of her loss, she celebrates the life they had together.
Her husband had recently had bypass surgery and his family was relieved and looking forward to many more years together. A week later he dies suddenly due to complications. My heart broke for her. My husband survived 2 bypass surgeries and I remember how happy I was he would live. Many years later, he also died suddenly during a minor procedure not involving his heart.
I related to her story in so many ways: her shock, pain, walking through the fog and being slammed daily with the truth that the one you loved most is gone. Although it was not what I expected, the book was a blessing. By her sharing not only about her grief, but her memories with her husband, coping with day to day realities of his death, and her life years later, it helped me see a bigger picture.
When someone you love deeply dies, you find yourself focusing on your loss and sorrow. The wonderful memories that come to mind are tied to your grief at first. Ms. Hayden helped me realize those memories are a legacy and joy you will hold on to forever, even though at the present they are bittersweet. By sharing her journey I was reminded again there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If she made it through with God’s help as have many others before me, then I will too. Her writing was honest and transparent. I felt more like a friend walking with her throughout her story than someone reading her book. I can tell this was written straight from her heart.
I received this book free from the publishers 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.”

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Rest Not in Peace The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #6 By Mel Starr

This the second book of Mr. Starr’s I have read. He has been added to my all-time favorite author’s list! I plan to read all his books. The setting in the 1300’s continues to fascinate me along with all the historical background of life in those times.
The star once again is Hugh de Singleton, bailiff and surgeon to Lord Gilbert of Bampton Castle. After almost a month, Lord Gilbert was tiring of playing host to Sir Henry Burley, his wife, daughter, 2 knights, 2 squires and the rest of his entourage. All hopes are dashed of them possibly departing when Sir Henry is found dead in his bed one morning. Upon first observation his death looks to be of natural causes, but Hugh is never one to take things as they appear. He quickly discovers that the guest has been murdered in a very crafty way that would have gone undetected by most. This turns out to not be a simple case! His investigation opens the possibility of Sir Henry’s wife, daughter, and knights! Before he can pin point anything specific another murder occurs and makes things even more complicated! Lord Gilbert has reached his limit with the unpleasant company and just wants Hugh to be done with it, and find a murderer so they will leave!
I was captivated by the plot. The more Hugh uncovers, the more unsure he is of who the murderer is. One minute I found myself thinking “Oh it has to be that one”, and the next “Hmmm this person could be the guilty party too.” It kept me on my toes guessing and wondering if the case could be solved. I loved Hugh’s keen observations and brilliant ideas to attempt to flush out the criminal.
Once again I thoroughly enjoyed all the personal information about the daily life during in medieval times. This book also included a glossary of words that were used in that era we are not familiar with. They added even more to the historical detail and gave a vivid picture how people lived, from the wealthy to the poor.
The ending is a surprise, not only who murdered Sir Henry, but another very expected turn of events. Hugh Singleton is the Sherlock Holmes of the middle ages! Mr. Starr’s is not only a very talented writer, but I appreciate the wholesomeness and good taste in which his books are written. You would be hard pressed to find a murder mystery in this day and time that is not filled with blood, gore, and foul language. This book would be a wonderful read for a young person who likes mysteries. I cannot emphasize enough how entertaining this book is. You definitely will want to read it! Hats off to Mr. Starr once again!
I received this book free from Kregel Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression By Bodie Hodge

This book is not only a treat for the eyes with so many pages of beautiful pictures and meaningful illustrations but it is the best book I have ever read on the biblical truth about Christmas. While extremely in depth it is not a boring or heavy reading. I found it very interesting.
Christians are saddened by the increasing commercialization of Christmas, and the focus on secular customs that draw attention away from Christ. But they might be surprised to find they have fallen into the trap of accepting some of the ideas too! As a born-again Christian that studies my Bible, I was surprised to find some ideas I too had unknowingly accepted! One being that Christ was not born in a stable and the other being, that Mary was not turned away because there was no “room in the inn”.
This book answers numerous questions Christians and non-Christians asked. “Is Christmas a pagan holiday? When was Christ really born?” to name just a few.
Mr. Hodge also addresses the confusion and misconceptions about the holiday that are accepted as fact today.
I appreciate that he doesn’t just stop there. He clearly and biblically presents the true history of the season, and the real reasons we should be celebrating the birth of our Savior. While some of the information is quite in depth, it is written in such a way all of it is easy to understand. I especially like that this is not just the author’s opinions and ideas, but he shows where these truths are in scripture. Lots of scripture! This is so important because it is only by God’s Word that we can compare our lives, beliefs, and choices.
He boldly confronts the error of not only symbols that are associated with Christmas in this day and time, and also where these are actually taking Christ’s place and substituting Him with Satan’s counterfeits. The author is not saying we should stop celebrating the holiday. Instead he shares how to celebrate it in a way that honors the Lord.
Unlike most books and articles on this subject, Mr. Hodge did not bully or condemn what has happened to Christmas, but clearly presents the facts, and allows them speak for themselves. This is a book I will read again and study closer, that I might be able to stand in this battle. It would make an excellent Bible study for a group or Sunday school class. I think it would be wonderful to study with teens to help me know the truth before they are adults and pass the misconceptions onto their children. A very, very good book!
I received this book free from Handlebar Publishing. I received this book free from Handlebar Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Christmas Quilt By Vannetta Chapman

Annie Yoder did something different during her rumspringa, she went into the English world and became a nurse. Upon her return she married herbalist, Samuel Yoder, who took care of the local Amish’s basic medical needs. As the story opens they are expecting their first child and her brother, Adam and his wife Leah are expecting for the first time too. Leah is carrying twins. The two women are very close. Annie wants to make Leah a special quilt for the babies. Thinking she has time to spare, (Leah isn’t due for two months), Annie gets a late start.
Leah unexpectedly goes into early labor, endangering her life and the babies. She is must be taken to a hospital in Philadelphia where she and the babies can be cared for. Annie agrees to stay with her until the babies are born.
Adam and Leah have been having struggles in their marriage since Leah became pregnant. Neither knows what the problem is and the distance grows between them. The sudden separation they experience while Leah is in the hospital causes both of them to view their marriage through different eyes.
Annie and Leah work on the quilt together and to pass the time share stories that illustrate the nine fruits of the spirit from Galatians chapter 5, one for each quilt square.
The community pulls together to have an auction to help pay for Leah and the babies hospital stay. Adam is overwhelmed by their love and generosity.
While this book would be a great read anytime, it is especially so for the Christmas season. Not because the story takes place around the holiday, but because of the many lessons associated with Christmas that can be learned from it.
Adam and Leah’s marital problems stemmed from losing focus on what was important. Adam was worried about finances and being a new father. Leah focused on her pregnancy discomfort and began to be selfish and ill tempered. When faced with the possibility of losing one another their priorities became very clear. I was reminded of how we lose focus of Christ, during the Christmas season. He is the true reason to celebrate, yet people caught up in buying gifts, decorating, preparing special food; everything except the Child that was the greatest gift of all. He should always be our priority and focus.
Annie made a great sacrifice to stay with her sister in law. She spent many days away from her husband whom she missed and loved. She sat long hours caring for Leah and keeping her company. The Amish community made sacrifices of time and possessions to help earn money for the young couple’s medical bills. This time of year the greatest sacrifice ever made began with the birth of Jesus. God sent His only Son to begin life on earth only to give it up for us.
I enjoyed the examples the women shared to illustrate Galatians 22 -23. It gave me the idea to do the same thing. I plan to find nine examples of each “fruit” from people and situations from my own life. This would be a great thing to do in a group as a Bible study too!
There are more examples I found, those were just a few. How many can you find?
A wonderful heartwarming book! This is the first of Ms. Chapman’s I have read and I look forward to reading more!
I received this book free from Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.