Almost Home By Valerie Fraser Luesse

I am classifying this as a cozy, warm fuzzy read! The people, the setting, the story filled me with nostalgia. I was transported back to a difficult but simpler time, before technology invaded life. Being a southern girl I totally related to the hospitality, kind spirits and sweetened ice tea!! Add to all this mystery and you have a 5 star read!
Dolly and Si live in Alabama in a 100 year old home out in the “boonies”. They have turned it into a boarding house to make ends meet. It is WW2 and people have been wounded by the war in many ways. Families who have lost loved ones, soldiers returning with emotional and physical wounds, those who have lost jobs, homes, and finances. Everyone is hurting in some way. Dolly’s home was the perfect place for the eclectic mix of wounded hearts. They became a family and Dolly and Si like loving parents.
Her big southern breakfasts and home cooked meals brought everyone together around the table to share burdens and encourage one another, like in times past. Basking in her love and kindness I was delighted to see each of the characters to heal in their own way and time. Their individual stories were so varied that I found myself immersed in each of their lives.
I loved Dolly’s and the elderly neighbor’s homespun wisdom! I have marked the pages and am going to write them down to remember! Dolly’s homey letters to her sister Violet were delightful. It made me feel a bit like I was reading someone else’s mail! (No I don’t do that but I did enjoy it!) One strong thread that ran throughout the book was faith in God and waiting upon Him. I was so sad to have this book end. It was as if my visit was over and I had to leave Dolly and her wonderful home. I cannot wait to read more of Ms. Luesse’s books!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.


Other Bodies By Joel Ohman

This is my first Dystopia genre read ever. I was curious about the book and had no idea what to expect. It was mind-boggling! Joel Ohman is a genius!!! This book is riveting and has many unexpected developments. Yes it is a controversial subject, and yes it may be disturbing to read, but he captures the raw truth about the abortion issue. Even as horrendous and disgusting the true procedure of abortion is, the author is tasteful and non-offensive in his writing. The book is fiction, and the story is well written and presented, but it is much more than just a novel.
Hattie is 16 year old girl on her own, with no family and no money. She was a caregiver to her beloved grandfather but he has died. She has landed a job at Managed Motherhood. The setting is far into the future; the exact date is not shown. Technology has jumped far ahead. Abortion is easier than ever. Robotics can do scans and abortions while the woman is distracted by her chosen virtual reality experience. She finds out she is pregnant during a demonstration with such a device. Guided by her abortion clinic colleagues she chooses to have an abortion. Her story does not end here. This reminds me of women today. They go to an abortion clinic to be educated about their CHOICE, but they not shown all the facts to make that decision, just influenced by pro-choice workers.
If all women contemplating abortion could see an ultrasound of their baby, hear its heartbeat, and be given all the factual information before making a decision, I feel the outcomes would be very different. The story shows that terminology serves to detach the mother emotionally from the precious child she is carrying. The baby becomes a “fetus” or a “pregnancy”. Whoever envisions cuddling one of those like they do an infant, toddler or child? The word “abortion” pricks at the conscience, but “terminating a pregnancy” dulls that conviction. I found it disheartening that due to the “Artificial Intelligence Discrimination in Employment Act”; the robots received more respect and care than the unborn children.
There is so much I want to share but am forced to limit it! While the future may have simplified this procedure the writer clearly shows the effects will ever be the same and just as intense. Those cannot be escaped. After over two decades as a minister’s wife, my husband and I spoke with many young women in Hattie’s situation. Mr. Ohman portrayed exactly the mental and emotional struggles we witnessed them facing. The conflict of justifying the choice or doing what they know is right in their heart. Sadly most of those girls chose the same answer Hattie did.
There were two points the author made that are stuck in my mind forever. If we found a single celled organism on Mars, it would be regaled as potential life. But an unborn child with a beating heart is not considered life or a person. How? Also the saying repeated throughout the book, “the body inside your body is not YOUR body.
Thank you Mr. Ohman for your courage, your insight, and your honesty! This book should be massively printed and put into the hands of very teenager and woman! I believe it should be required reading for all those considering abortion whether the person is pro-life or pro-choice! I can see “Other Bodies” being life changing and having a major impact on the Abortion Movement! Sorry for the long review this book is INCREDIBLE!!!
I received this book from Fly By Promotions in exchange for a honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.


The Marvelous Mustard Seed By Amy-Jill Levine

The Marvelous Mustard Seed is written in such simplicity that a child’s heart and mind can grasp this scriptural analogy. The illustrations are sweet and charming. I loved the way the youngster’s expressions in the book totally capture a child’s curiosity and awe of learning.
The first part and the majority of the book make it clear how tiny a mustard seed is. It was humorous and cute as children explored the tiny seed from their young perspective. The life cycle of the mustard plant is shown from planting to full growth, emphasis on how large it becomes and its many uses. The last part of the book presents how this relates to the Bible parable of the mustard seed, found in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Children are visual learners and can connect abstract ideas much easier with something they can relate to. With the detail to what can be seen and touched at the beginning makes it easy for a child to understand more about God’s Kingdom. I plan to use it with my Sunday school class.

If . . . What If? By Tony Myles and Daniel Myles

How I wish we had this book when our girls were growing up! Family devotionals were, let’s say, a little dry most of the time. One of the rules we had was that the girls could not lie down or recline at all or they would fall asleep! Sad I know! If we had had these devotionals we would have never had to make that rule.
There are 365 days of devotions, I liked that! It is important with youth to teach and share God’s Word, but equally important that they see how to apply it to their lives. This book does exactly that. Best of all it is fun, with an essential purpose. The lessons begin with an “If” question to capture everyone’s attention, and getting those “thinking gears” turning. Followed by that is a “What If” question that will stir up discussion. With the family relaxed and talking a scripture reference and though provoking devotional come next. At the end of each one is another “If”, “What If” question that brings the topic home. Some even have suggestions for projects to do individually or as a group. I the found the “There is Hope” inspirational lines on every page, very encouraging. Every 7th day there is a “Catch up, Recap, Grow together, Open up, and Pray”. I plan to use this with my grandchildren and as lessons in our Sunday school class. This is an exceptional book that will make family devotionals something to look forward to, drawing them together and making a lasting impression on young hearts and minds.
BH Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

In the Shadow of Croft Towers By Abigail Wilson

Sybil Delafield has been raised as an orphan at Winterridge by her beloved teacher Mrs. Smith. She was content and lived a simple life, until the day and mysterious letter arrived with a bracelet. Mrs. Smith also informs her she has been offered a job as a lady’s companion to the elderly Mrs. Chalcroft, a friend of her teacher. The year is 1813.
Never having been away from her only home, she is understandably nervous. I thought of how I would feel being thrust into such new and different surroundings. Well poor Sybil didn’t get off that easy. On her way to her new life, the coach she was riding is robbed by highway men. One of the men held her at gunpoint in the drenching rain and took her reference letter. Her ride ends at an Inn where she is left out in the freezing rain until they summon a coach from Croft towers. It is night and she enters this magnificent mansion and is taken to a stunning WHITE drawing room, drip, drip, drip, you get the picture. Around the fire are 3 obviously refined and wealthy people; a more than awkward moment and with no papers to prove her identity. While she is sharing her harrowing tale of the robbery, another man enters the room. Ut oh! It is the highwayman that seized her! What is she to do?
I am truly struggling to write this review! The book is so amazing I am finding hard to put everything into words. The very first sentence captured my attention and I was glued to the book until the end! There is suspense and mystery but it is so smoothly introduced into the plot. The author captured the era perfectly. Her descriptiveness in every area, from the setting, the emotions to the characters was so powerful that pictures popped into my head like a movie. (That’s a good idea! This would make a great movie!) At every turn there was a surprise, but they didn’t jump out and smack you in the face as with some novels. They slipped out in front of you catching you off guard! Some parts are so intense I found myself tensed up and gripping the book! The clever sense of humor Sybil and Mr. Sinclair’s shared with each other had me laughing more than once. I was entertained and kept guessing till the very end. I loved this book! It is staying on my bookshelf for good! I am anxiously awaiting her next book to be release July 2, 2019.
The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Mending Fences By Suzanne Woods Fisher

When I see a new book by Ms. Fisher I know it will be good! This one was great!
Luke Schrock is an Amish bad boy. He has a loving family, community and strong roots to a simple and good life. He throws it away and finds himself in trouble with the law and in rehab for alcoholism. His Bishop, David and his rehab counselor feel the best way for Luke overcome his problems is return to home to Stoney Ridge and apologize to the people he has wronged. And there is more. He must offer to make amends and ask them how it affected their lives. His list of victims is quite long. This is his last chance and He to “mend fences” and start a new life. Amos and Fern Lapp have offered to bring him into their home, with meals and a place to stay in exchange for work. What a shocker when he finds out his room is in the barn!
Izzy has also been taken in by the Lapps a year ago; she gets to stay in the house of course! She lacks and craves all Luke took for granted; a secure home, a loving family and place to belong. She treasures having these blessings and sees how valuable they are. Luke is intrigued by Izzy. She is quite, even secretive and totally unimpressed by his charms that have always turned the girl’s heads.
I loved this book. The title is so appropriate. I enjoyed watching Luke grow and change as he realized the damage what he considered “innocent pranks” did to so many. It was extremely interesting to look into the lives of those wronged and how it had changed them. I saw his years of selfishness and his attitude of entitlement fall away as he grows spiritually, truly loving and caring for his people.
Izzy is a beautiful soul trapped inside a shell of childhood hurt and resentment. It was painful to see her struggle with trusting even the Lapps and realizing she was loved. I just wanted to hug Amos and Fern. Their challenges and hardships could have easily caused them to abandon Luke and Izzy to focus on their needs but they didn’t. They were so sweet and sincere in their sacrifices to help troubled youth. One of my favorite parts of the books was Luke’s problems with a wily raccoon and Amos’s beloved horse Bob. I was sorry for the book to end, it was that good! It did make me happy to see this is a series another book will be coming!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Never Let Go By Elizabeth Goddard

The book starts off with a bang! Possible murder, attempted murder, arson, and having two ex-lovers meeting again! This is not a book you want to read at night to fall asleep (as is my custom) because you won’t! The plot moves along at a break neck speed. As if all of this is not enough for one person to bear, Willow does not have time to sit back and contemplate. She must join forces with her former boyfriend, Austin, whom she never wanted to see again. She has no choice to be able to stay alive and get to the bottom of a 21 year old cold case file of a baby stolen from a hospital. The birth mother only has 2 months to live. All the violence seems to link back to this one incident. While she wants nothing to do with, Austin, a former FBI agent now private investigator, she finds his help is essential.
The author does a brilliant job of sharing Willow and Austin’s complicated thoughts and feelings toward one another as the story unfolds. Their old wounds and heartaches surface again, forcing the couple to face them. Austin’s personal, hidden past of an abusive childhood and an estranged family resurfaces, requiring him to deal with it. There is so much pain; the pain of loss of life, a child, shattered relationships, and self-doubt. Mysteries only God can reveal and pain only He can heal. I appreciate wholesomeness of the book in the area of romance. I admired Willow’s resilience and persistence to do what was right in spite of her present situation. Austin won my respect with his courage to step back into Willow’s life not only to aid her but also protect her. This is a riveting and exciting story with all its layers of suspense and kaleidoscope of emotions. An added bonus was I learned something new! I had never heard of a forensic genealogist! Fascinating! If I had heard about it growing up I think of might have become one!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Miriam Daughter of Finnish Immigrants By Diane Dettmann

I will say outright I am a fan of Diane Dettmann and her writings! She uses the same words we all do but somehow she puts them together in a way that draws you in both with her fiction or nonfiction books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would call it a “cozy read”. The story of her grandparents was so personal I felt as if I were a part of the family and reading about my heritage!
The Great Depression was a very difficult time for those who lived in that era. Reading about their hardships and deprivation made me feel a bit guilty. Our internet goes out for a few hours or we have a power outage and we feel we are suffering. Forget modern conveniences, they had practically nothing, but it was the everyday norm for them. If you add to that being immigrants from another country, learning our ways and language I feel these people had a greater challenge to survive. Their story is far from discouraging or gloomy though! There is so much humor and joy and that makes it all the brighter with the back drop of those times. I found myself laughing over and over at family incidents shared. This memoir was also an in depth history lesson of day to day living and endurance.
I think one of my favorite chapters if I had to choose one was “Mother’s Influence.” Her ingenuity and resourcefulness in caring for her family’s needs was amazing, especially when I think of today’s society of “throw it away and buy a new one”. They didn’t feel underprivileged or lacking; whatever they were blessed with brought the family contentment. A delightful read!
I received this complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Christian and Jacob Sea Kid’s Adventures Plush Toys Lee Ann Mancini

Christian Sea Turtle and Jacob Starfish are the main characters in God’s Gift by Lee Ann Mancini. Please see my review of this extraordinary children’s Christmas book. Children love stuffed toys and that is putting it mildly! They give them comfort and are fun. Snuggling such soft toys gives a child a sense of security. This is why many police, fire stations, and emergency rooms have them on hand when children are involved in tragedies or illness. Unlike toys now that play FOR the child, a plush toy allows little imaginations soar with no limits.
You have not seen stuffed toys this quality in a long time! I cannot emphasize how extremely well made they are in materials, construction and design. They can stand up to the toughest pint-sized loving and play. Well-crafted toys like these can even make it to an adult’s keepsake box.
The characters are captured exactly like their pictures in the book. Their colors are just as vibrant and bright. THEY ARE SO CUTE! I liked the super soft materials. They are just the right size for little hands and arms to hold. Best of all I found them not to hard, nor soft like so many plush toys. As baby bear said in the fabled story, they are “Just right”!
What a wonderful gift to give Christian and Jacob with their book, but these would be fantastic as gifts alone. Children love toys that match the characters in their books. I am sincerely impressed with these as well as the book series. I hope Ms. Mancini will eventually come out with all the characters as plush animals!

God’s Easter Miracles By Lee Ann Mancini

This is a dynamic children’s book for Easter and encompasses so many important subjects and makes them a part of the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. No Easter Bunny or association with him is mentioned; Christ as first place as He should be!
It is Easter and after attending church the Sea Kids gather for an egg hunt. Their Sunday school teacher tells them there are 3 special eggs that will win them a key to the prize box to pick a gift of their choice. Paul is autistic and when he doesn’t find a prize egg he becomes very upset. Jimmy finds 2 prize eggs and refuses to give on to Paul even when the teacher suggests it. He just doesn’t understand why he should. In the midst of all this excitement the pastor comes in with Brian manatee, announcing that his little brother Lenny was seriously injured. The next week the sea creatures gather to have a special prayer for Lenny who needs a miracle. Jimmy struggles with wanting to keep both prize eggs and giving one to Paul. He goes to his father for advice.
Prayer is such a strong theme in all of the Sea Kids Adventures books but very much so in this one. Children see how important it is to pray for those who are sick or hurt. All the sea adults coming together for prayer further establishes its importance. With autism becoming very prevalent among children today I thought it was wonderful the author introduced Paul to the story. These children and their behavior are often misunderstood by their peers and adults. I was happy to see all the students accepted, included and even helped Paul. Jimmy asks his Dad if he should give Paul one of his eggs because he was autistic. His Father told him that he was just as special to God as his friend was. If he gave Paul one of his eggs it should only because he wanted to be kind to his friend! Wow! Jimmy prays that night and asks Jesus into his heart. The purpose of Christ’s death, sacrifice and resurrection for our sins is beautifully expressed throughout the book. . I appreciate there was no Easter Bunny mentioned. I believe it take from Christ and replace Him in the eyes of little ones.
I will be using all of this series of books in my Sunday school class. Without a doubt I will be reading them many times with my youngest grandson throughout the years. After his parents trying 13 years to have him, and with no medical intervention he was born 4 days before Easter! He is a miracle to our family!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.