One More River to Cross By Jane Kirkpatrick

To say I am an avid fan of Jane Kirkpatrick is putting it mildly! I have loved all her books but she really out did herself this time! Her detail (as always) to research is impeccable. What I find remarkable is her ability to understand and capture the emotions and physical details of the people involved to the point the story does not appear as historical fiction but a personal account of the characters.
The 1800’s was a time when settlers were heading west for the promise of better more prosperous lives. These brave men, women and children had no idea what danger or difficulties lied ahead, all they saw was their dream. In 1844 the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend left Missouri to travel over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to California. As they reach the mountain range snow begins to fall and the trip becomes a race against time to before severe winter weather sets in. The decision is made to divide up into 3 groups. One will stay in a crude built shelter and protect supplies until the others return in the spring. As the remaining 2 groups move on, they realize the way is impassable for the wagons. A second larger crude shelter is built and the women and children are left as the third group forges on to California to bring back a rescue party.
As I read I thought about how my impressions of these westward settlers pretty much came from the show Wagon Train. Boy was I misguided! The hardships these people faced are unbelievable! The constant fear of death or loss of a loved one was a part of life. The lack of food and starvation was an endless reminder of their mortality. It is one thing to be hungry yourself, but to have small children with nothing to eat is another. Can you imagine giving your children animal hides to chew on hoping there would be some sustenance? Mothers who bore children on the journey even feared they would not have breast milk for their babies to survive.
And the cold, oh the cold! Fire didn’t do much to warm you and about the only thing between you and the elements was a crude structure that had snow and wind blowing through the cracks. I don’t do well with frosty weather, and Ms. Kirkpatrick’s descriptions their battle against frigid temperatures was so vivid I found trouble keeping warm!
What I found truly amazing was their perseverance, ingenuity, and courage. People from all nationalities and walks of life worked together without pettiness or irritation even during the worst of times. Instead of whining and dragging each other down, they uplifted and encouraged one another. No one belly-upped and quit in the face of their suffering which is what I am sure I would have done! A remarkable book you want to read! I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Forged through Fire: A Reconstructive Surgeon’s Story of Survival, Faith, and Healing By Mark D. McDonough, MD

Mark McDonough went through more suffering, emotional and physical, in his life they numerous people put together. As a child he faced the debilitating effects and a long healing from Guillain-Barre syndrome. One would think that was enough for one lifetime. When he was 16 he faced an even greater hardship. A house fire took the life of the beloved mother and little brother. He experienced burns over 65% of his body. There was even more tragedy for him to face in future years which he shared in his story.
This was a very moving and thought provoking book for me. The author’s transparency in his thoughts and feelings took such courage to put on paper. His descriptions of the year’s pain, discouragement and agony during the medical treatments he experienced were incredible. I could sense at points the intensity of the pain and emotional distress was beyond what he could find words to describe. As I read I thought several times, “I would have just given up.” Yes, he wavered, doubted, wanted to quit and just throw the towel in on life, but he did not!
He grew stronger in the Lord and learned each time to rely on Him in great greater ways. None of this is sugar coated, trust me! Not only did the author prevail over insurmountable tragedies used those sufferings to help others. He against all odds became a plastic and reconstructive surgeon to help burn victims like himself. What a gift I know that has been to all his patients. He had the insight and compassion other doctors could not.
I found myself ashamed for my pity parties and despair over what I have faced. I don’t think I can ever look at my problems the same without thinking of Mark. I am even having problems finding the words to write this review! This is a book you want to read! Dr. McDonough’s story is more than just a publication to read. It is a testimony and encouragement to everyone facing trials. I can tell it was written out of love to all those who read it.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Autumn Frost By M.D. Schlatter

I loved this book! It is a very wholesome read with strong Christian principals. I especially liked that the author had a modern day setting but with the biblical and moral values from bygone days that we badly need restored!
Autumn was very young when her beloved mother died. As years go by her grief and loss are compounded by her father’s abuse. He had grown bitter over the loss of his wife and struggles to raise his daughter and work. Each time she has run away he finds her and brings her home
Through a magazine ad Autumn applies to be a companion for the wealthy Lady Cannon. She is a devout Christian with very high standards and strict qualifications for whomever she hires. Autumn is deceptive in her application, leaving the impression she is alone in life. Lady Cannon hires her and Autumn’s life will take a far-reaching turn. Being a willing and hardworking she grows by leaps and bounds in skill and experience, but most of all spiritually. With her employers love, patience and generosity she blossoms into a beautiful young woman. In spite of all her progress forward she cannot out run her unresolved past with her Dad.
There are so many surprises throughout the book which made the story even better! Not only the solid biblical influence impressed me but the true salvation message, and how prayer was the foundation for each character. A unique book you will want to read!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. 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 Light Before Day By Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is the third book in the Nantucket Legacy Series. I am happy to say I have read all three! This can easily be read as a standalone but you won’t want to miss reading the other 2!
Henry Macy and his twin sister Hitty are summoned home following being gone on a whaling expedition for 3 years. Their cantankerous grandmother has died leaving them her fortune with some very detailed and constraining guidelines. Should they decide not to follow her wishes the fortune would be given to their scoundrel of an uncle that robbed their father of all he had. They don’t want the money, but what about using it to help their community? Their choice is not an easy especially with the other instructions their grandmother has left.
This book as with the others draws the characters to Great Mary’s diary. A family heirloom passed down since the 1600’s. Wisdom never is out of date and this treasure continues to guide the family member who receives it. It has been a major part of each book and I couldn’t wait until another page of it was revealed.
Nantucket in the 1800’s had greatly grown from its humble beginnings. The whaling industry was still the center of it. But with time and progress come new challenges and struggles. Discrimination and conflict concerning slavery was a major issue. It was interesting to see it from the view point of that era and how the Quakers dealt with it. The story was exciting complex with the plot and characters. I love the unexpected surprises! Definitely a book for your reading list!

Very Best, Hands-On, Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions By Tim Shoemaker

When our girls were growing up family devotions were sometimes hard on all of us. We had them upon rising and all of us were a little bit sleepy. The girls would doze off or lay now so we had to make rules. While we were being obedient parents by spending time in the word with our children, I am not sure how much they remembered! I wish this book were available then and I bet they do too!
It makes the children participants in the devotionals, not a captive audience! Scriptural principles are taught with exciting, fun and very unique ideas. This concept will capture the kid’s attention and make what they are learning memorable. There are 52 devotionals, one for each week of the year! I liked them all but some of my favorites were: “Watermelon Drop, Spudzooka, and Life Lessons from a Graveyard”.
The book begins with the chapter, “Ending the Stop and Start Syndrome.” It has 14 suggestions to help your children get the most of the devotionals, ideas to help you build on being consistent and successful in your family time in the Word. I found these very helpful!
The theme of each devotional is at the beginning. The items needed and advanced preparation for the parent is listed out and very clear. Some of the planning is quite a bit, but isn’t it worth is to teach your children the Bible? Granted it you may not have some of the items suggested but you can easily borrow them from someone who does! Or better yet come up with a creative substitution.
Next the author explains how to execute the activity. I was impressed about “Teaching the Lesson”. It isn’t too long but gets to the point and brings up many ideas that might be overlooked. Finally “Summing It Up” helps bring it all together by sharing how the devotional applies to everyday life. I see this book as a win-win for parents and children. The parent will be obeying God and the children will be learning and applying.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wooing Cadie MCaffrey By Bethany Turner

I haven’t read many Christian comedy romances and this one was definitely unique.
Cadie and Will are both in their 30’s, unmarried and very involved in their careers. They begin seriously dating and develop a loving and comfortable relationship. But after 4 years of hoping proposal Cadie becomes frustrated. Will drops hints of marriage but never takes the next step. She finally breaks up with him. Will truly loves her and determines to do all he can to woo her back.
There were so many things I liked about this book! First and foremost was the humor! So many times I was laughing out loud. I feel Ms. Turner realistically portrayed the relationships and interactions of young adults today. The lack of communication between the two was also spot on. It is an area so many people are lacking in and with disastrous results as with Cadie and Will.
I admired that they couple were saving themselves for marriage and wanted God’s best. I was not comfortable (even though it was handled very tastefully) when their passion went too far. I saw regret and shame for failing, but not a true repentance toward God. I thought it was wonderful that Cadie honored her parents and was concerned about sharing what she had done. Yes she was an adult and didn’t have to, but it showed respect. In spite of their not saving intimacy for marriage, the author did a wonderful job of stressing God’s forgiveness and starting over. It introduced the concept that no man or no woman is perfect and all a person needs. Commitment to one another requires forgiveness, acceptance, compromise and work! A sweet book with many important messages for couples.
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Living Lies By Natalie Walters

Natalie Walters hit a home run with her first book! The characters and the plot were amazing, but the author skillfully included serious issues in the forefront of society today: PTSD, depression and anxiety. The story immediately grabbed my attention from the first paragraph and didn’t let go. I was hooked into the old readers’ syndrome, “I am just going to read one more chapter to see what happens”.
It is late at night and a young woman (Lane) is standing near the edge of bridge on the verge of jumping to her death. The town’s new deputy (Charlie) happens by and finds her. She attempts to explain she is just taking pictures but Charlie can see through the facade. Ashamed and frightened she bolts into the woods but in the darkness she trips over something and falls. That something was a dead body! Very quickly a troubled war veteran with PTSD is suspected and the small town wants justice! Lane knows in her heart he is innocent and courageously takes a stand for him.
Lane is a widow and mother who had moved back to her hometown and start a new life leaving her guilt, grief and secrets behind. Charlie, a war veteran has moved there to work with his uncle, the sheriff. Both are sure they want no part of romance or marriage but God has other plans. Lane suffers from severe depression and anxiety. Due her family’s attitude toward her struggle, lack of support and understanding she sees herself as broken and undeserving of love. Charlie also faces family disapproval for leaving a career in the military. The story moves so smoothly as clues to the murderer’s identity is sought.
The author does a beautiful job of showing the minds and hearts of those with mental illness. I feel it gives the reader a greater understanding of how those afflicted suffer, needing our compassion and understanding, not disapproval. They are often hindered in forgiving and accepting themselves by the harsh judgement of others. Ms. Walters shows throughout the book that the true source of overcoming and moving on is trust in God. I cannot wait to read the next book!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Another Good Dog By Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a dog lover deluxe! I never met a dog I didn’t like or didn’t want to pet. Therefore, any true story about these furry angels has my attention. Not all are well written and some don’t really focus on the animals. Ms. Achterberg does a fantastic job with both.
The author not only shares her experiences rescuing and fostering dogs but also shares her heart. I laughed, I cried and I stood in awe at her perseverance, dedication, sacrifice and deep love for these animals. It wasn’t their fault they ended up without a home but that of irresponsible humans. I was touched my how she accepted each one for who they were and was able to see past problems some of them had due to their experiences. She works so hard not only finding them a new home but overcoming obstacles they face. Every animal, be it a dog or any species deserves a second chance. Thankfully there are people like the author who will work so hard to give them one.
This audio book made the miles of driving go faster as I enjoyed every minute of this book. I couldn’t wait to get back in the car and go somewhere to hear the rest! I felt a very personal connection with each animal and wish I could pet and snuggle each one. A touching story.

With Winter’s Frost By Kelly Irvin

This book was different and I liked it! It breaks all the norms about Christian romance novels! Most are about couples in the bloom of youth, and I have read a few about middle aged couples. The romantic couple in this story is senior citizens in their 70’s. That might sound a bit odd but the story is beautifully and realistically written.
Laura is a widow and retired midwife. She is still very active helping in her community and with her family. Zechariah is a widower but he is not in good health and is suffering from Parkinson’s. Along with the difficulties of the disease, he is struggling living with his family besides relying on them for his daily needs. The two have known each other since grade school.
After his granddaughter has a difficult birth with twins, Laura steps in to help with the household, the younger children, and Zechariah. Losing his independence and his failing body has turned him into a real grumpy old man. She sees his discouragement and emotional pain and determines to cheer him up. As time passes they realize there is a spark between them. The question is can they find that kind of happiness at their age and the obstacles that come with it?
Ms. Irvin touches on so many true to life challenges faced in the senior years. Even though Zechariah had family to care for him, the loss of his independence was devastating. Being told what to do, where to live and having all your decisions made for you is frustrating. As the body grows frail it is discouraging not to be able work and to everything you once enjoyed. The youth of the family take the place the person once held making it easy to feel useless and unwanted. The couple’s aches, pains, exhaustion in doing the simplest tasks was so true-to-life.
I loved the family Amish family moments of meals, special times for a cup of coffee and fresh baked cookies. It was heartwarming and brought to light there are still sweet pleasures at any age. Most of all I like the wonderful Laura’s wonderful sense of humor. I haven’t read the other books but I am going to now!
I received this book from Booklookbloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science By Drew Dyck

Our future depends on the choices we make today. A huge part of what we do, positively and negatively depends on self-control. This seems to be lacking in today’s society in a big way. As Christians our guide to the why and how of self-control is God’s Word. Mr. Dyck does an extraordinary job digging deep into the Bible to find those answers for us.
I have heard the old saying, “you do what you love”. The author points out that if we choose to give into the flesh and sin, then we love it more than God. That sheds a pretty bright light on the decisions we make! We must love God first and foremost (as He tells us in His Word) and we will have the strength to do right.
I like the way Mr. Dyck helps the reader combine the spiritual with our real life struggles. This enables us to see and apply, not just read and wonder.
He also brings out a VERY important point that people miss about God’s guideline for Christian living. It is not confining and cramping our style, like a chain to be endured and drug around for life. The Christian life done God’s way is freeing! We can be and do all He wants us to be, unencumbered by the destruction of sin’s consequences. Self-indulgence is a tool of Satan to push us into his plan of misery. We actually give him control over our life instead of the Lord.
What people think will make them happy in the moment will bring far reaching unhappiness. To look at the bigger picture, God’s plan and deny that moment of pleasure or ease will bring more joy and blessing than one can imagine. The author presents not only a very clear understanding of the problems we face, but also a biblical point of view and the tools to strengthen ourselves. One of my favorite parts was about wasting time. This is my Achilles heel, especially online time. A book I recommend for all Christians to read!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.