A Bound Heart By Laura Frantz

Scotland and its history is not something I am familiar with. I recently found out through DNA testing that a large part of my ancestors are from there! Lark McDougall and Magnus McLeish were raised together as children, on equal footing as nobility. Lark’s father lost his title through false accusations. Lark and her grandmother were left in desperate poverty.
Lark had the job of maintaining the gardens and bees, also formulating herbal remedies for the castle. She loved her doing it and being in touch with nature. Magnus becomes Laird of Kerrera Island. He is a loving and kind ruler that truly cares about the people. Both have always been in love with each other but due to Larks’ family scandal, never married. Magnus married a whimpering, selfish, sickly woman whom desires to produce an heir. When his wife dies suddenly, Lark is accused. Magnus attempts to protect her and they both end up on prison. As their punishment they are sent to Virginia and Jamaica as indentured servants! Talk about bad going to worse!
The story is fast paced and exciting, with lots of surprises. I enjoyed this book on many levels. Ms. Frantz’s picturesque description of the island painted breathtaking pictures in my mind. I almost felt the wind blowing in my hair and I could smell the sea! I saw Lark’s and Granny’s poverty, seeing the desolation of their small home. There were times I found myself standing there looking around and observing.
The author’s remarkable accounts of the prison and slave ship were incredible! It is hard to fathom that thousands of people really experienced such horrid conditions and treatment! They were ripped from their families and homes, probably never to see them again. How frightening to face an appalling voyage and if you survived only to find yourself in a severely abusive living situation to where there was no escape!
What shone even brighter in all of this tragedy was Lark and Magnus’s solid faith in God and reliance upon Him. Their desire to follow Him no matter what the situation or cost was inspiring! They trusted the Lord explicitly. What a great read!


River to Redemption By Ann H. Gabhart

Have you ever thought about if an epidemic spread through your town and most of the residents died or were left to die because there was no one well enough to care for them? That is what happened in 1833 in Springfield, Kentucky. Cholera swept across like a ranging forest fire leaving most of the men, women and children dead in a short time. There was no hospital or special medications to heal or relieve suffering.
Adria Starr was only 7 years old when her entire family died right before her eyes. She was so sick; she can do nothing but remain in the house with her deceased loved ones. Louis, a slave left alone to care for his master’s home and business is somehow immune to the disease. He tirelessly cares for the sick and buries the dead. His faith in God is strong and deep. He finds Adria and takes her back to the hotel where he and Tilda an elderly slave were nursing the sick alone. Ruth Harmon and Pastor Will Robertson have had their faith shaken after both lost their spouses in spite of their belief and endless prayers. Where was God? Tragedy will bring all their lives together in an unexpected way.
This book was an eye-opening historically. We take so much for granted in our time and our how fortunate we are with modern medicine. The character that had the biggest impact on me was Louis. Oh to have faith in God as he did! Christ was his only focus otherwise he would not have blessed and saved 100’s of lives. I want to be like him! Not matter what the situation he found himself in, his only thought was what the Lord wanted. He could have fled and gained his freedom but he chose to remain. His and Tilda’s sayings and attitude toward hardship were incredible! I wanted to write them all down and remember them. (I may still do it!) Will and Ruth were faced with continuing on while struggling to understand why God had allowed this. Ms. Gabhart beautifully creates a beautiful story of true faith and how God can bring beauty from ashes.

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh By Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Hatherleigh is in the upper echelon of Victorian London society. Her father is a viscount. At the ripe old age of 18 it is time for her to find a suitable husband. Forget about love and character being desirable in a spouse. Title and money are the name of the game. Due to a societal indiscretion of a young man Carolyn was seen with, her mother sends her off to her grandmother’s estate by the sea in Devon. Christmas has just passed and she is expected to stay until spring! To say Carolyn is upset is an understatement. All she can think about is how BORING it will be with her distant stuffy grandmother.
Carolyn is a brat! She is selfish, thoughtless, prideful, and is a very unkind in her dealings with others. By accident while out for a walk she meets a young man named Gideon. He is a Paleontologist whose interest in fossils is to show them not as part of evolution but God’s creation. He is kind and gentle. His sister Emma is just a sweetheart! Her health is bad and her body is frail but her spirit is joyful. Caroline begins visiting her and a friendship develops between the two girls and Emma’s brother.
Both Carolyn and Gideon find themselves attracted to each other but both try to dismiss the idea as they are not on the same level of society. They become dear friends. Something Carolyn realizes she has never had. She is swept up into their lives and secrets. Mysteries and danger follow. I won’t say anymore but it gets very exciting!
I found it sad that Carolyn’s extreme wealth and lofty heritage robbed her of the realities of life. She was not a Christian but worshiped the god of aristocracy which revolved around numerous customs and ridiculous etiquette. Most would think abundant riches would foster freedom as an individual however Carolyn’s life was nothing more than a prison.
Her relationship with Gideon and Emma not only helped her see Christ by their words and actions, but gave her a comparison with which to view herself This brought conviction in her heart of how she truly was and it was not a pretty sight. I thought it was wonderful that in spite of her snobbish upbringing, she didn’t make excuses but wanted to change. Gideon and Emma were beautiful examples of how Christians living out their faith will be a testimony for the Lord and change lives. True faith and salvation in Christ were they mainstay of this book! A truly wonderful book on many levels!
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams By Jill Eileen Smith

Whether we admit it or not, we have all have an unconscious “script” written in our heads about how our lives will progress. This is more than dreams of setting goals; it is also a dream because we cannot know all the details of our future. When life takes a different course, we are shocked, hurt, and disheartened even if it is due to our own bad choices.
Ms. Smith looks at 12 different women of the Old Testament whose lives did not follow their expectations and plans. She helps us see that these ladies weren’t just Bible characters but real flesh and blood women just like us. They had the same emotions and feelings as any woman. Each faced disappointments, difficulties and made mistakes just as we do. God wrote about them that we might learn from their examples good or bad.
I was delighted that the author not only wrote about well-known women from the Scriptures but several you wouldn’t have thought of studying in this way; Adah (Noah’s wife), Melah (Lot’s wife) and Aneksi (Potiphar’s wife). All very interesting! If God included them in His Word, they are important too!
The author does an amazing job of bringing each of these women to life. I was able to put myself in their place and time, seeing events from their perspective. The next part of the chapter is entitled “In Our World”. Here I was able to realize how what happened to a woman who lived 1000’s of years ago can be applied to my life today. I really liked this part. It helped me see that though time and customs may be different today, who we are as human beings never changes. “Imagine with me” returns to that particular woman seeing through her eyes the impact of her experience on the rest of her life.
I found Ms. Smiths in sights on the lessons that can be learned very interesting. She went past the obvious and brought out things I would not have thought of. The questions at the end of the chapters really aided me in looking deeper at myself, thus gaining even more from the study. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Breaking the Power of Negative Words By Mary C. Busha

Words seem like such small things in passing. They can be quickly spoken, thought or read, but they hold a great deal of power in many areas. Influence to hurt, damage, encourage, or heal sometimes for a lifetime.
We all remember words that have wounded us in the past. I know I do. Cruel thoughtless ones, sometimes spoken on purpose that 60 years later still sting at their remembrance. Just as bad if not worse are those I have thought toward myself, oftentimes on a regular basis. I believe such have had even a greater impact on shaping my view of me as a person. I cringe to think the effect my unkind words may have had on others.
With negativity being such a scourge in today’s society I found this book to be a fantastic study! Through personal illustrations and lots of scripture (a big plus to me!) the author helps the reader take an in-depth, even microscopic look at many aspects of negative words. She doesn’t just leave us hanging there, but in great detail gives us the knowledge and tools to change not only ourselves but overcoming that which is spoken by others. Ms. Busha points out that negative communication in any form is not what God intends. Scripture has a lot to say about the power of the tongue. At the end of each chapter there are study questions for deeper self-examination. These are great! This is a book you will want to read more than once to study. It is a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. I believe everyone can benefit from it and make lasting changes.
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Courting Mr. Emerson By Melody Carlson

I have said it before and I will say it again, Melody Carlson is one of my favorite authors! Any book I see with her name on it I HAVE to read! This book was a fun read and a bit different as the main characters are in their 50’s. George Emerson has reached his retirement after 30 years as a high school language arts teacher. He is stuck in an 80’s time warp, maybe even further than that! He has eschewed any type of technology despite his intelligence and education. This guy puts the “N” in nerd. Uncomfortable in his own skin, especially in social interactions, he is a loner and confirmed bachelor.
Willow West is the totally opposite end of the spectrum! She was raised in by hippies and her wild youth labeled her with name Wild West Willow. You get the idea! She is now a Christian and her youthful exuberance is now channeled as a buoyant, impromptu, woman who totally enjoys life!
These two oil and water no make that gas and fire personalities, meet when Willow asks Mr. Emerson for a referral letter for her grandson’s college application. They learn they both attended high school together. She finds herself interested in him but she is not sure exactly how. She describes him as “Mr. Bean”.
George is not sure how he will spend his new freedom retired. He envisions his rigid, OCD life continuing to be a cocoon of comfort. Willow on the other hand sees him needing to try new experiences and add excitement to his life. Though I do not think consciously, she makes it a project to help him do just that. This is where the rushing wind meets a brick wall. George sees her as fascinating. Because of the lack of the courage to say “no” he continually finds himself in circumstances and experiences he would have never chosen! After he has survived each one George finds he actually enjoyed himself but vows never to give in again!
Both grow more attracted to each other but their disparities usually end up in misunderstandings and hurt feelings, only to be followed by an apology. Ms. Carlson does a beautiful job of helping the reader clearly see the George and Willows extremely different viewpoints. The characters were fun, quirky and real! I thought it was beautiful that Willow’s interest in George was one of compassion and concern. As the story unfolds her concern is for his soul as he professes to be an atheist. He was a beautiful example not to give up on an unbeliever no matter how impossible salvation may seem.
You will find yourself laughing, crying and feeling joy as you read this book. Thank you Ms. Carlson for another amazing book! I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

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.