The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson Review


Synopsis: When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby’s father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant’s paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don’t know that she–or their grandson–exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma? Beloved author Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.

My Thoughts: This is my third year of reviewing Melody Carlson’s Christmas stories and I always enjoy reading them. (Reviews for The Christmas Angel Project and The Christmas Joyride).  Every year, she releases a Christmas story that warms the heart and gets the reader in the mood for the Christmas season and this book was no exception.

The story follows Amelia, who lost her sweetheart in World War 2 after a whirlwind romance that produced a child. Her sweetheart, James, left for the war before they knew she was pregnant (or were married) and now she is setting off to find his family and introduce herself and her son Jimmy to them.

I liked the plot of the story and the time period of World War 2, a scary and uncertain time, I imagine. I also liked Amelia’s character, she adored baby Jimmy and wanted what was best for him. My only qualm with this book is that Amelia states that she doesn’t regret having Jimmy out of wedlock and premarital sex almost seems condoned because they were planning on getting married the next day anyway. Something about that didn’t quite sit well with me. I don’t judge people for their actions or sins but I wasn’t fond of how sin was almost justified in this book (I always hold Christian books at a higher standard than secular books).

Overall, this was a very sweet story that was paced well and had a great ending. I highly recommend it for fun Christmas reading!

My Rating: 

4.5 stars

I received this book from Revell Publishing to review honestly.



A Box of Awesome Things Matching Game Review


Item Description: You know what’s awesome? Fireflies. Lava. Tacos. Yellow. Wee Society’s compilation of awesome things (also found in An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things) is now a matching game – designed to induce giggles, exercise working memory and spark silly conversations. The game comes with 20 pairs of cards – including one blank pair so kids can draw their own awesome addition. What’s not included: things that are NOT awesome, like cavities, garbage or splinters. It’s designed for all ages. Beginners can take out a few pairs, and work their way up to using all 40 cards.

The beautifully minimal, vibrant illustrations are designed to grab kid’s attention and make the game fun.

My Thoughts: When I saw this game available for review, I was excited to request it. I am always on the lookout for fun games that work on matching, fine motor skills, visual scanning, etc.  that I can use at work. I work as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in schools and my husband loves to tell people that “I play games all day”. This isn’t 100% true but I do play games a lot at work.

The box of awesome things matching game is a revamped version of the old-school “Memory” game that I played in the 80s. It contains 40 cards with 20 pairs that are laid out face down and then turns are taken to flip 2 cards at a time and see if you can remember where they were to get matches. For younger children, you could use less cards, working your way up to more, or just have them spread out face up and have the child match the pictures. Because I work on writing, I plan on incorporating printing the words from the cards as well.

The pictures are a lot of fun with vibrant colors…there are tacos and s’mores and science…things that would make kids smile.  The cards are heavy duty cardboard and seem like they will endure lots of wear and tear. The game also comes in a great storage box with a lift top lid…I may move the cards to a ziploc baggie or put a rubber band around the box because the lid isn’t secure…a magnetic or velcro closure would have been a nice touch.

The game is also compact, which is important in my job, as I carry all of my supplies with me daily from school to school so I need small items.

This one definitely hit it out of the park, I highly recommend this game for parents who want a fun matching game for their children, it’s a winner!

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this game from the publisher and Booklook Bloggers to review.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan Review


Synopsis: In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower’s allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer.

Determined not to make the same mistakes, he’s intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything–even murder–to keep the case from going to trial.

My Thoughts: This was my first experience with reading a legal suspense story and I really enjoyed it. It’s a combination of a legal and a medical thriller. The story follows Kate, an attorney preparing to go up against a very large pharmaceutical company who is accused of manufacturing drugs that have fatal side effects.

The story pulled me in at the first chapter and kept up until the end. I liked all of the characters and found the romance to be very sweet. There were a few twists that I didn’t expect, which I love.

One thing I enjoyed about the story was that Kate was not opposed to having security after being threatened. Often in stories, I’ve seen the trope of the “strong woman” who doesn’t feel the need to be protected and always resists help. It was a nice change to see a woman who realized that she could use the extra protection.

I am not skilled at legalese but I never felt confused or lost with the story, the author described everything in a way that made it easy to understand but didn’t talk down to the reader.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers to review honestly.

The Action Storybook Bible Kindle Fire Giveaway

About the book:

The Action Storybook Bible invites families with children ages 8 and under explore God’s redemptive story together.
From the sleek and amazing creatures God created at the beginning of the world to the powerful kings who reigned over ancient Israel to Jesus’s gift of eternal life for you and your family-God has a beautiful and exciting plan for the world. Where do you fit into that plan? How are the truths found in God’s Word reflected in your life?
This Bible storybook features 15 episodes highlighting key milestones in God’s story, packed with dozens of scenes-combining stories from God’s Word with brand-new captivating illustrations from Brazilian master-artist Sergio Cariello, illustrator of the bestselling The Action Bible. Discover your family’s place in God’s redemptive story and together put your faith into action!
Interactive features include:
-Fifteen episodes loaded with over 350 brand-new illustrations from master-artist Sergio Cariello.
-Short and easy reading for all ages. Take turns telling God’s redemptive story!
-The Life, Faith, Action! feature wraps up each episode and helps your family recognize how God is moving through each story, discover how that relates to your daily lives, and feel inspired to put your faith into action.
-Heroes Hall of Fame index, where you can look up your favorite Bible characters and discover their stories!
About the authors:

Catherine has written more than twenty-five books for children, including the bestselling “Adventure Bible Storybook.” As publisher of children’s resources at David C Cook, she leads product development for The Action Bible® collection, which has sold more than a million copies. Catherine lives with her husband, their three children, and their big furry dog in the Colorado forest. ||**|| Brazilian-born Sergio Cariello has been an accomplished artist since childhood, drawing a regular comic strip for his city’s newspaper at age 11. He spent many childhood hours poring over “The Picture Bible” (Portuguese edition), never dreaming he would illustrate an updated edition (“The Action Bible”) decades later. Sergio has worked for Marvel Comics and DC comics and has illustrated Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Iron-Man, Wonder Woman, Fantastic-Four, and dozens more comic book characters.

Find out more about Catherine and at


Discover your family’s place in God’s incredible story and together put your faith into action with the new The Action Storybook Bible from David C Cook! Explore God’s redemptive story together with your children ages 8 and under in the 15 episodes highlighting key milestones in God’s story. Master-artist Sergio Cariello created more than 350 brand-new illustrations to captivate your family and help you recognize how God is moving through each story.

Join the adventure to begin to figure out where you fit into God’s beautiful and exciting plan for the world by entering to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 29. The winner will be announced October 2 on the Litfuse blog.

My Thoughts: Graphic novels are extremely popular right now but I’ve found that “clean” graphic novels are few and far between…what could be better than the Bible in graphic novel form? 
There is something special about seeing illustrations beside well known and loved Bible stories. It adds something to the story. I was moved by the story of Joseph, seeing him on the selling block with chains on his neck and wrists really helped me picture the story in a new way and made it feel much more real. The artwork is very well done and the stories are written in an easy to understand format.
This would be a great gift for many people…from those who are starting out with reading the Bible, or those who are familiar with the Bible. I think it’s geared toward children and teenagers but I think people of all ages would enjoy it, I certainly did.
I highly recommend The Action Storybook Bible!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse to review.
My Rating: 5 stars


The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett Review


Synopsis: In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brannon lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn’t relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills.
When Margie’s former fiance sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer’s plans might put more than just the park in danger.”

My Thoughts: After reading this book, I’ve decided to add “visiting Mount Rainier National Park” to my bucket list. The author did a great job at describing the sights of this beautiful place (so much so that I want to go see it for myself). The story is very sweet, it follows Margie, a senator’s daughter who has a love for nature and Ford, a ranger at the park, who is dealing with past hurts. I enjoyed every page and loved the characters. Margie showed a lot of integrity and didn’t compromise her beliefs which I really appreciated.

There was plenty of drama and some great suspenseful scenes. The villain in the book was such a creep and definitely a “love to hate” kind of character. I loved the slow burning romance and the way everything played out.

This is the first book in a series (The Vintage National Parks) and I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books to review.

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley Review


Synopsis: In an effort to get her security consulting business off the ground, Kelsey Allen has been spending a lot of time up in the air, rappelling down buildings and climbing through windows to show business owners their vulnerabilities to thieves. When she is hired to pose as a conservator at the Pink Palace Museum in order to test their security weaknesses after some artifacts go missing, she’s ecstatic. But when her investigative focus turns from theft to murder, Kelsey knows she’s out of her league–and possibly in the cross hairs. When blast-from-the-past Detective Brad Hollister is called in to investigate, Kelsey may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart.

Crackling with romantic tension and laced with intrigue, this suspenseful story from award-winning author Patricia Bradley will keep readers guessing–and looking over their shoulders.

My Thoughts: This book started out with a bang! From the first page, I was glued to the story and on the edge of my seat. The main character, Kelsey, is skilled at entering buildings in non-traditional ways and the story opens as she is doing this.

The mystery was complex and kept me guessing, I had a slight inkling of the villain but was surprised when the revelations occurred.

I also loved the setting of a museum, there’s something mysterious about that setting and the author did a good job at making me feel like I was walking down the halls of the Pink Palace Museum beside Brad and Kelsey.

This book was light on romance, which I liked but the romance that did occur was sweet.

Overall, this was a great suspense story that was enjoyable but dragged a bit in the middle. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review.

The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix Review


Synopsis: “There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered. 

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?

My Thoughts: I almost didn’t read this book as I am not a fan of sad books…I’m so glad I gave it a chance. The story is definitely a tear-jerker but it’s also hopeful.

Jessica, the main character, is recovering from the traumatic events of the Paris attacks and through a series of events, works to solve a mystery of a girl that lived in the 1600s. The mystery was very interesting and I found myself researching the Huguenots as I read. The story is raw and gritty…some scenes are descriptive and not for the faint of heart but, sadly, they are based on real events.

The book addresses the ever-looming question of “why does God let these bad things happen?” I loved the way the author addressed this question…the layering of light over darkness….a quote that I plan to remember for my own life.

I was immediately drawn into the story and loved the characters. I also loved the European setting…the reader travels to France and various parts of England with the characters.

There were a few things that I didn’t quite agree with in relation to theology but they did work for the story. I also was a bit disappointed by one loose end that was left at the end.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book and will definitely pick up more by Michele Phoenix.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers for review.

Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall Review


Synopsis: The Christmas season is a particularly difficult time for women to slow down and relish what’s right in front of them. An annual marker for many, it is a holiday that can often remind us how life is not going as we’d planned. Our family relationships remain strained, our finances stretched, and our schedules stuffed with too much to do in too little time.
Following the formula of her successful Loving My Actual Life, Alexandra Kuykendall shares with readers her own personal experiment to be completely present in her life as it is during the holiday season. Addressing the themes of Advent and Christmas, she reflects on hope, love, joy, peace, and relishing the season, with practical pullouts on common Christmas stressors, such as finances, schedules, and extended family. Kuykendall’s signature candor helps women go easy on themselves, remember what truly matters, and find joy in their imperfect Christmases.

My Thoughts: When I found this book, I knew I needed it in my life. I love Christmas but always wish I could enjoy it more because my enjoyment is dulled by the stress and busyness that is always inevitable.

The author breaks down each week leading up to Christmas with instructions on how to slow down and plan events leading up to the big day. She is honest and relatable in each day, sometimes struggling but learning through it all.

There are also great tips at the end on finances, scheduling, party planning, and more.

I enjoyed this book and found some information that I plan on implementing during the upcoming Christmas season.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from the publisher for review.

The God-Shaped Heart by Timothy R. Jennings Review


Synopsis: The key to spiritual and emotional health is to grasp the truth of God’s transforming love for us and then let that reality influence our own hearts and relationships. It seems simple, but we are experts at complicating simple things. Instead of living lives characterized by love we find ourselves trapped in cycles of shame, violence, and addiction that steal our joy and keep us from loving others–so much so that, by all indications, Christians are living no differently than anyone else when it comes to abuse rates, use of pornography, alcohol and drug addiction, and more.
Christian psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Jennings wants to release us from this prison. With powerful illustrations from case studies and from Scripture, Jennings shows believers who are stuck in addiction, violence, fear, and broken relationships how to experience true freedom through God’s transforming love to experience greater health, fulfillment, and well-being.

My Thoughts: For the first about 30 pages, I expected to really like this book. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. It is clear that the author (a medical doctor) is very intelligent, but as a result, there were a lot of info. dumps and a lot of things were too scientific for my liking.

The book has a good overall lesson…love is the key, but I got lost with a lot of the facts and the writing style. I also felt a bit defeated after reading this…it did not give me a hopeful feeling like most Christian non-fiction books I’ve read. There was a lot of criticism of the Christian church and Christians in general which I didn’t like.

I also disagreed with a few things presented in the book…scripture is used but I wasn’t on board with his interpretation of some of it.

The scale for spiritual maturity was interesting, I found it informative.

Overall, I was not impressed with this book and probably wouldn’t recommend it.

My Rating: 2 stars

I received this book from Baker publishers for review.

Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer Review


Synopsis: Decades of Loss, an Unsolved Mystery,
and a Rift Spanning Three Generations

Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.

Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can’t understand her mother’s overprotectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother’s inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan—a cold case agent—cherishes her grandmother’s lavish attention and affection.

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel’s painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help bothwomen recover all that’s been lost?

My Thoughts: This book was full of things that I loved…mystery, family drama, flashbacks, and a sweet romance. Kim Vogel Sawyer is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. Her writing flows really well and she has a great story telling ability.

I loved the characters…each of them were defined and developed perfectly through the story. The mystery kept me guessing and was surprising when revealed.

The romance was sweet and paced perfectly. I also liked how much faith and spiritual content was included in the story. There is a great lesson about why we go through hard times included that was something I needed to hear at the moment.

Overall, this was a beautiful story that I could see myself revisiting in the future.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.