To Steal a Heart By Jen Turano

Gabriella Goodhue has had a hard life.  As a child she was forced to work as a thief many other children for an unscrupulous man, until being rescued into an orphanage.  Now as an adult she has turned all that around.  She is has become an upright citizen and has a respectable job as a seamstress.  She resides at the Bleeker Street Boardinghouse with a most unusual group of women.  Each with their own past and funny quirks, but together have formed a close knit family. 

One of the tenants there is falsely accused of stealing an expensive heirloom from an aristocratic family.  Gabriella is determined to clear their name.  She disguises herself and goes undercover at a ball to try and nab the real thief.  In the process, she is thrown together with Nicholas Quinn.  He was a part of the child thief ring and they had been very close, but had not seen each other in many years.  Nicholas was taken in by a wealthy man and is now part of high society. He purposes to help her solve her case but she wants nothing to do with him.  She has past hurts of feeling he abandoned her.

As with all of Ms. Turano’s books the events that follow are hilarious and touching! I couldn’t quit laughing at the escapades of Gabriella, Nicholas and the motley group from the boardinghouse. Daphne, her friend and fellow tenant, was my favorite character!  Her eccentricities paired with her helping Gabriella were hysterical   I loved the suspense and close calls they found themselves in.  What I liked most was Nicholas’s strong faith in the Lord and his gentle guiding to help Gabriella see that God loved her and she could trust Him. This is such a fun book and the ending will surprise you.  Thank you Ms. Turano for brightening my reading days with another fantastic book!

The Nature of Small Birds By Susie Finkbeiner

The Vietnam War was a news topic all my growing up years and early adulthood.  I remember the headlines.  When Operation Baby Lift occurred April 4 to April 19, 1975, I had just given birth to my first child on April 4th.  As I held my sweet baby, I remember hurting for all these frightened children being brought to the United States.  They had already been through such traumatic experiences.  I heard of families that had adopted them, but I knew nothing of their lives after that.

Mindy was one of those children.  The story goes back and forth between Mindy’s thoughts and feelings and that of her adoptive father and mother.  Each had, of course, such different perspectives. This gave a complete picture mentally and emotionally of what so many children and families faced. I had not even considered the racial and political hurdles they would have to handle, not only in their communities but within extended family.  For me this added to the challenges of trying to give a child love and security while making them a part of your family.  In addition, these sweet little ones had no way of telling you the horrors they had seen. Mindy’s new family was loving, accepting, and wonderful, she always felt as if she did not belong.  As an adult she found herself wanting to meet her birth family.  Her desire was muddled with fear, doubt, and insecurity of what she might find out.  Her parents supported her 100% by helping her work through her maze of emotions.

Not only did I enjoy Mindy’s story, but also the closeness and love the family shared.  I enjoyed their humor and sensitivity toward one another and so many happy times.

Ms. Finkbeiner has a unique way of making her stories personal and real.  For me, this book brought to life what might have happened to those children and their new families.

100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety By Bethany House Publishers

This book is not what I was expecting but in a very good way!  Being a worry wart has been a struggle for me most of my adult life.  In the last few years due to health issues, family losses and medication changes, my battle with worry and anxiety has reached an all-time high.  So of course my interest was piqued in reading this book. I was expecting to find the best known and loved scriptures concerning this subject and an application or story to go with them. 

I am pleased to say I found much more!  This book goes much deeper than that!  Yes it has those comforting verses but it also has truths from the Bible that remind a Christian of their foundation in Christ and the true Source of all comfort.

Each page with a verse has four parts:

Context: This gives a background what is going on in the scripture, in relation to the lesson, the events and the people involved.

Meaning: I found this very helpful.  It fleshes out the verse with visualization, feelings, and thoughts.  I found many helpful insights in the section.

Application: I think of the three, this one helped the most.  When you are caught up in anxiety your thinking can get muddled.  This part gave me direction in how to use what I had read and learned.

At the end of each section are included more scriptures to read. Far more than just a Bible references to verses. A wonderful book!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Betty Greene By Janet and Geoff Benge

Betty’s desire to be a pilot blossomed at the very young age of 8 years old, and that dream never diminished.  Her mother pushed her into enrolling in nursing school, but after two years she dropped out.  All she wanted to do was fly!  In 1940 she was visiting a 70 year old neighbor, and poured out her frustrations about what to do with her life.   The wise old woman asked her what she loved doing the most and Betty’s answers were flying and helping with the youth group at church. Her neighbor pointed out she could do both by helping by flying for Christian missions. Once she got home she prayed and told God that although she had never heard of anyone flying to spread the gospel, if it was what He wanted her to do, He would work it out. Just a few weeks after her prayer, she heard of a civilian pilot training.  She enrolled and was accepted.  From that point on God continued to move with opportunity after opportunity in training and experience.  Being an eager student Betty excelled in everything she did.  She flew for Women’s Airforce Service in World War 2. She is honored with the title of the first woman to fly over the Andes and also to be allowed to fly over Sudan (women pilots were not allowed at that time). With 3 other men she helped found and Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship. Now the Mission Aviation Fellowship. Her adventures were incredible; flying to isolated jungle areas, staying with missionaries, hiking through the jungle, and repairing planes in remote areas.  She even coordinated and flew missions across many continents which was no easy feat with numerous stops for fueling plus time to rest, all in different countries!  I found all she did mind boggling, but the planning and knowledge it took to accomplish this was incredible.  She had so many close calls, emergency situations, illness and just downright scary circumstances.  Betty loved every minute of it and never wavered.  I won’t even travel to another state alone in a car!  What I found most impressive was all of this was done with her intense devotion to God and desire to serve Him. One amazing lady! 

Thank you to YWAM Publishing for a providing this book for me to review.  The opinions stated are my own.

Come Back To Me By Jody Hedlund

I always enjoy reading Jody Hedlund’s books.  This one really caught my eye. While I am not a fan of time travel this one was different, especially being my favorite genre, historical romance!

After his wife died from a rare genetic disorder and upon finding his daughter, Ellen also inherited it; Marian’s father poured his life into finding a cure.   His theory was that water that had come in contact with seeds from the Tree of Life had the power to transport people back in time and cure any disease in the present day.  It was so outlandish she just chalked it up to him possibly being mentally off.  That is until she is summoned to his bedside in England where he lay in a coma.  As she follows cryptic clues he had left her she quickly realizes he was onto something. 

Upon finding an ancient flask he has left with a residue of the water, she experiences passing back in time.  Convinced this is something that can save her sister and bring her father out of a coma; she drinks some of the water.  She finds herself transported back to the middle ages where she meets Will Durham, a handsome and brave knight for the King of England.  The adventures she faces not to mention the time restraints to return to present day are harrowing!   What an adventure!  I found myself actually becoming anxious. I loved the detailed description of her experiences in the late 1300’s from the view point of a 21 century woman!  I must admit she took it in stride much better than I would have.  I felt her yearning for a hot shower and a cup of coffee.  There was much Marian  could not have for seen in facing but she never dreamed she would fall in love.    What a story; suspense, excitement, and mystery!   I read at night to go to sleep and for 3 nights it was the wee hours of the morning before I could put it down!  The only part I did not like about the book was, while in good taste, there were way too many parts of steamy sensuality between Marian and Will.  I was a bit surprised with it being a Christian novel.   Otherwise it was a really great, unique book! 

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

Helen Roseveare By Janet and Geoff Benge

Helen was raised in family of financial means. Her father placed great importance on her receiving a good education.   She worked hard and acquired a medical degree, not to make money but to use the skills as a missionary.  She was a rarity in her time, not only as a female physician but also as a doctor on the mission field.  I loved how the Lord guided her through sermons, scriptures, and the guidance of other Christians.  He led her to the Congo.  Here women were not respected by the nationals.  She had many hurdles to overcome in addition to the dangerous political upheaval of the country and how impoverished the area was. Upon her arrival she was put the work the very next day. The clinic had 500 – 1000 people waiting for medical help.  Many had traveled long distances on foot.  There were diseases and injuries she had never seen or been trained for in medical school. 

Her energy and motivation amazed me.  She didn’t just serve as a doctor but also trained medical workers, established nursing schools, and built hospitals in her career. This is quite astounding considering how little there was to work with regarding supplies, materials and workers.  Her strong willed attitude which aided in success also caused on going struggles and conflicts with her colleagues.  This distressed her greatly. When a civil war broke out and other missionaries were leaving, Helen stayed. At one point rebels destroyed her clinic, and was held hostage.  She was violently physically, emotionally and sexually abused for 5 months before she was rescued. In spite of this after recovering at home in England she returned to the Congo. She was broken hearted at the destruction of all she had built and condition of the people. Memories and fear of what she endured were always with her.  She continued there 7more years trying to rebuild even making further improvements.

I was shocked at all the suffering Helen faced during her time of service. Her courage, faith and strength left me in awe.  What incredible situations she went through and still desired to serve God. She left after 20 years of service, returning once to see how her work still flourished.  God truly created a legacy through her. 

Helen Roseveare is a missionary I had not heard of.  This one thing I like about the Benge’s Christian biographies.  They write about incredible people that many do not know of.

Thank you to YWAM Publishing for a providing this book for me to review.  The opinions stated are my own.

Lillian Trasher By Janet and Geoff Benge

Lillian Trasher’s story reminds me of Proverbs 16:9. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.  Seventeen years old and filled with the hope and zeal of youth, Lillian wanted to spread her wings and fly!  She set out to pursue her dream of becoming a sketch artist for the Georgian Newspaper in Atlanta.  While on the train she just “happens” to sit by a woman who ran the Faith Orphanage in North Carolina.  As they chatted the woman offered Lillian a job as her assistant.  Working in an orphanage, ridiculous! She was going to have a career with the newspaper!  She politely listened and promised the woman she would remember her should things change.

After submitting her sketches to the art editor, who assured her there was a very good chance landing her dream job she left to return the next day. Through a series of events that were most unusual she was not hired.  Seeing God’s hand in this disappointment, she headed for Faith Orphanage.  There she served tirelessly not knowing God was teaching her many lessons and preparing her for His plan.

After 5 years she felt the Lord’s calling to the mission field, in Africa.  Having no money and no church to support her was not a deterrent to this faith-filled woman.  She trusted God and He furnished all her needs in incredible ways.   It wasn’t long after she arrived at the mission house in Egypt; a dying baby was given to her. She was given the choice by the leaders of the mission house to return the baby (whose mother had died) or leave.  This is when she learned there were no orphanages in Egypt and the baby would be thrown into the Nile.  

With no money and no support once again, she left with the infant.  You have to realize this country was a dangerous place for a woman alone.  She didn’t even know the language! Once again she trusted God and as always He provided.  This was just the beginning of His amazing care and provision for Lillian and the orphanage she established.   She had many setbacks and serious problems throughout the years:  no food, catastrophes, illness, no clothing for the children.  Every time God was faithful to furnish whatever was needed.  At the time of her death, she had lovingly cared for 10,000 children and widows.  None of which could have been done without her obedience, faith and trust in God.  This is an incredible story!  Lillian reminded me of a cross between George Muller and Gladys Aylward! 

I love Christian biographies.  Learning about men and women who have given their lives to serve God is inspiring to me. Although this book is for readers 8 to 12 years of age, I encourage adults to read it too! 

Thank you to YWAM Publishing for a providing this book for me to review.  The opinions stated are my own.

A Lady in Attendance By Rachel Fordham

Rachel was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth; wealthy, entitled, and reckless.  None of this helped her when she found herself being accused of a crime she did not commit.  Shipped off to a reformatory to serve her time, she found out what life was really about.  Upon her release she had nowhere to go and no money.  Rachel’s goal was to clear her and her family’s name of this injustice.

Instead of having a pity party she applies for a job at Dr. Gilbert’s dentistry office to be his lady in attendance.  What we call dental technicians now.  I had no clue there was such a position back then.  The thought of going to the dentist in the late 1890’s gives me the heebie jeebies!   No deadening, crude tools, you get the picture.

Gilbert was a solid, kindhearted, shy man who did not want to have any attachments to the opposite sex.  Yet, vivacious Hazel changes all that.  Her true character blossoms in her new job, diligent, caring and unassuming.  Gilbert finds himself becoming happier and more outspoken (in a good way).  Friendship turns to romance.  As he becomes involved with Hazel her story is brought to light and he purposes to help her restore her reputation.

As the story progressed, I couldn’t put the book down!  Each step revealed a deeper part of the mystery that surrounded Hazel’s predicament.  I had to turn the next page because I couldn’t stand the suspense! 

I loved Hazel’s spirit of forgiveness and courage to take responsibility for her choices.  She felt it would be impossible to repair the damage her foolishness had done to her life and her family but God was working to show her that nothing is impossible with Him.  The Lord sends just who she needs to move toward a solution.

There are lots of surprises and excitement along the way.  Trust me; you want to read this book!

I received this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

At Lighthouse Point By Suzanne Woods Fisher

I was very excited to read this new book in the “Three Sister’s Island” series! I enjoyed the others so much!  The family has settled on the island and it has become their home. Paul is still working to develop Camp Kicking Moose into a success.

Blaine has graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Pairs and returns home excited and anticipating making her dreams come true by turning the camp fine dining destination. Many surprises await her, come good and some not so good.  Her sisters are both married and pregnant.  They have settled into comfortable lives and work.  She is forced back into the reality with her family, the business and life on the island.  Blaine is not prepared for some changes her family lovingly with her in mind.  They are equally surprised with a Frenchman named Jean Paul she brings home with no explanation of who he is or why.

I love this family!  They are so real!  Their interactions, drama, misunderstandings bring them to life.  With all of them, under one roof, it gets quite chaotic.  Add to the mix Blaine, Jean Paul and out of the blue Paul’s Dad shows up.  Each one has their own problems and struggles to work through some very serious.  Their love and desire to make the relationships succeed was refreshing.  No matter what their struggles they always worked it out.   I could relate so much with Maddie and her fears and anxiety concerning her husband Rick’s health issues. While I was happy to see many of the characters from previous books, the new one, Jean Paul was my favorite.  His ability to listen with his ears and his heart drew me to him.  I wish I could talk to him! He inspired me to become a better listener.  I liked the way he always directed them to God.  His saying, “Pray and release”, will stay with me in my life! His mishaps while sad are hilarious.  The author’s descriptiveness of the gorgeous scenery was beautiful.  I love nature.  The best part of the book was that through all the problems, heartaches, and even frightening events, the characters always turn to God for their strength and guidance.  I understand this is the last book of this series, but I so hope Ms. Fisher will write JUST one more!

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

Blackberry Beach By Irene Hannon

This is my second Hope Harbor series book to read and I hope to read all of them! 

As I began reading my mind raced back to the previous book and Hope Harbor’s charm and nostalgia.  The author has created a place you would want to visit and even live there: the wonderful people, the town’s businesses and the ocean with its beautiful beaches. I love it!

Being a small community, anyone new is noticed right away (I have lived in places like that).  The new comer is young woman that is very guarded and reclusive.  She interacts very little with others and wears huge sunglasses to hide her face.  Zach Garrett who owns the local coffee shop notices her right away.  Fascinated by her secrecy and mysteriousness he finds himself determined to befriend her.  He discovers she is renting the beach house next door to him.  Perfect!  He will stop at nothing to get to know her and her story. 

.Some of the characters are at a crossroads in their lives.  It takes courage to step out and take a different path from the one you have become accustom to for so long.  At first it can seem wrong and uncomfortable.  Most of us don’t like change, even for the better.   I liked that even though they grappled and even resisted with a new direction because of the unknown, they relied on God to direct them.  I could relate to times in my life when God was nudging me to move away from my comfort or not so comfortable zone.  The decision each of the individuals stood at the edge of, dealt with new relationships, healing seemingly impossible old ones, and their calling in life.  I must admit their grappling with whether they would step out on faith, kept me on the edge of my seat.  I kept wondering what they would choose (and what I thought they could choose!).  I had trouble putting it down!  A wonderful Christian read!

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