Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander Review

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Synopsis: A novella to launch a brand new three-book series . . .

In the midst of war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas, the cost of love . . . and of loving again.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. About to be evicted, she sees an advertisement for the Ladies Aid Society Auction and applies for a position—only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity. And friendship. But can she trust him? Is Jake Winston the man he appears to be? Having lost everything once, Aletta is determined to guard not only her own heart, but also her son’s.

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffers a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Ladies Aid Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop of the real history of Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored . . . at Christmas.

My Thoughts: I believe this is the first Civil-War era Historical Fiction book that I’ve read and I found it very enjoyable. This book follows Aletta, who is a recent widow, following her husband Warren’s death as a Confederate soldier. She is facing dire straights, as are many women in the community, and receives an opportunity to work at the Carnton plantation.  It also follows Jake, a wounded soldier, who is visiting Carnton and coming to terms with his injuries.

I have visited the Gettysburg battlefield many times as it’s not far from my home and have often thought about what the soldiers experienced but this book caused me to consider what their wives went through. There were some heartbreaking and emotional moments throughout the book. It was such a dark and uncertain time in history, and I really enjoyed how Aletta stayed strong and used her experiences to help others.

I adored the characters and the setting at Carnton. I had heard many of my bookish friends raving about Tamera Alexander’s books and I have to agree that she is a great storyteller…she made the people and places come to life.

I am definitely looking forward to the release of the next book and would highly recommend this one.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers to review.

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Jesus Loves You! by Christine Topjian Review

jlySynopsis: God’s only son, Jesus, wants you to know that He loves you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

He watches over you to make sure you are okay and knew you even before He created you. That’s how special you are to Him.

Won’t you spend some time with Jesus today?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the main idea of this story, which is that Jesus loves you and has been with you in each moment of your life. It also reminds the reader that He knows how you’re feeling and understands. It’s a great reminder for Christians and brought up memories in my life and times that I’ve felt His presence.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork, it looked juvenile and a bit distorted. I also am confused as to who the audience would be for this book. It seems like it would be aimed towards children, but the story goes from birth to adulthood and addresses some issues that children might not understand yet.

I also found the story lacking in Biblical content…I wished that there was an explanation for how to invite Jesus into your life as well as possibly an explanation about who Jesus is and what He’s done for us.

My Rating: 2 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review.

A Forest, a Flood, and an Unlikely Star by J.A. Myhre Review

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Synopsis: Follow along with thirteen-year-old Kusiima in the third book of J.A. Myhre’s The Rwendigo Tales.

Just thirteen years old, Kusiima has no time for school, sports, or hanging out with the other boys in his African village. With no father or mother to take care of him, he works long hours to support his grandmother and sickly baby sister. Then one day, Kusiima’s life suddenly changes when he travels into a nearby protected forest. In the forest, Kusiima is presented with many choices, all with uncertain outcomes. Should he go along with illegal logging? Help to save an endangered baby gorilla? Follow a donkey to who knows where?
With each choice, Kusiima has to make yet another decision about what is right in front of him. As he does, he meets a mysterious doctor who holds the key to his past and his future. In the end, Kusiima is faced with the hardest choice of all. Can he forgive a great wrong and heal a broken relationship?
Readers of all ages won’t want to put down this exciting book that addresses current realities like AIDS, malnutrition, and environmental destruction, all set in a richly detailed African adventure story. Following along as Kusiima makes his decisions, readers will find themselves considering their own choices and growing in empathy for others. This action-packed tale of a boy, his sister, and an orphaned gorilla is also a clear call to give up bitterness and forgive deep hurts, restoring broken lives and relationships.

J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.

Find out more about J.A. at http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com.
My Thoughts: I have never read a book like this before and it was delightful. The story follows Kusiima, a 13 year old boy who lives in Africa with his grandmother and younger sister, who is severely underweight and unhealthy. I loved the author’s descriptive writing…I was able to picture the scenes in the book very easily and felt like I was transported to Africa while reading. This book was what I think of as an “escape book”…it’s written in a way in that the reader truly escapes their current environment and enters the world of the book.
The plot was full of adventure, suspense, and drama. I found myself on the edge of my seat several times while reading. The illustrations were also delightful and provided a better glimpse into the world.
I adored Kusiima, he was a very strong, courageous young man of amazing character. I think this would be an excellent story for boys to read. It causes the reader to see that there are people in the world that don’t live as comfortably as those in the western world. In spite of Kusiima’s poor circumstances, he still persevered.
There was a bit of violence and some scenes that might be scary for younger readers.
I highly recommend this book and plan to pick up the other 2 in the series (this is book 3).
My Rating: 4.5 stars
I received this book from Litfuse Publicity Group to review.

The Creeps by Fran Krause Review

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Synopsis: Illustrator, animator, teacher, and comic artist Fran Krause has touched a collective nerve with his wildly popular web comic series–and subsequent New York Times best-selling book–Deep Dark Fears. Here he brings readers more of the creepy, funny, and idiosyncratic fears they love illustrated in comic form–such as the fear that your pets will tell other animals all your embarrassing secrets, or that someone uses your house while you’re not home–as well as two longer comic short-stories about ghosts.

My Thoughts: I went from giggling to having goosebumps when reading this book. The “fears” ranged from creepy to humorous to gross and just plain strange.

This is a very entertaining book that I really enjoyed. The artwork whimsical but it isn’t a style that I particularly like. I did like that the artwork was colorized. I also like the size of the book and the cover.

If you are looking for a fun graphic novel that will make you think, that will give you occasional chills and make you chuckle, this is the book for you.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books to review.

She Reads Truth Christian Standard Bible Review

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Description: The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization.

Features include: almost 200 devotionals, 66 artist-designed key verses, 35 full-color timelines, 20 full-color maps, 11 full-color charts, reading plans for every book of the Bible, one-year Bible reading plan, detailed book introductions, key verse list, carefully curated topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking.

The She Reads Truth Bible features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text. Translated by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible features an optimal blend of accuracy and readability that’s faithful for serious study, and written with heart-stirring clarity that inspires readers to live and share it.

My Thoughts: I was overjoyed when I had the opportunity to review this Bible. I hadn’t heard of the She Reads Truth Bible until very recently and I am very impressed by it.

My first impressions were great…I received the Gray Linen version but it comes in various beautiful colors. It comes in a sturdy slipcase…the Bible has a very hard cover that seems durable. The Bible itself is rather heavy, but that is because it is full of goodness. There is beautiful artwork throughout the book, which just makes me happy, I always feel like color adds joy and fun to anything, so the artwork is one of my favorite features. There are also maps in the Bible, but what I love is that they are in relevant places…they are placed in chapters that pertain to the maps instead of all in the back of the book (which is what I’ve usually found in other Bibles). The same concept goes for timelines and charts, there are several timelines and charts placed in relevant places throughout.

Another of my favorite features is that there are 189 devotionals placed throughout the Bible. I haven’t had a devotional Bible since I was a teenager and I’ve forgotten how nice it is to have the devotional included in the Bible…it makes studying your Bible much easier. There are also reading plans for each book as well as a yearly reading plan with check boxes in the back of the Bible. There are not one, but two ribbon bookmarks in this Bible, which I think is a great idea as there are many times when you need to mark more than one place in your book.

Each book of the Bible has an introduction, which helps the reader understand the context and characters of the book. The artwork is also at the beginning of each book, which highlights a key verse, which overall sums up the book.

There are wide margins, which are great for note-taking or Bible journaling, which I’ve recently dipped my toes into. It also has a great topical index in the back, which can be very handy.

The translation is Christian Standard Version, which I wasn’t familiar with. I’m finding that I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s very reader friendly and has good footnotes. I also like the font that is used for the text of the Bible.

Overall, this Bible has everything I would wish for. It is a Bible that I could see myself using for years to come and I’m delighted to own it.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from BH Publishing Group to review.

The Christmas Gate by T.A. Cline Review

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Synopsis: Robert Robinson, a renown author from New York City, is traveling unwillingly through a snow storm on his way to a small farm in upstate New York owned by his editor. Robert’s fame from the success of his books has changed him. His indulgence in big-city parties and being in the spotlight has allowed his arrogance to swell and for him to lose focus of his obligations. Now, being excessively late on the third book of a three book contract, he is given an ultimatum. He can either face legal action from his publisher or take one last chance to finish his book away from all the big-city distractions.

Patty has her own issues, dealing with the memories of her late husband. Always at the edge of depression, she somehow remains visibly strong and in control of her emotions, despite her internal turmoil. While Patty’s father is away to be with a dying friend, she assumes the responsibility of caring for the old farm owned by the New York editor.

Robert is oblivious to Christmas and all that goes along with it. His parents loved Christmas, but he hadn’t spoken with them in over eight years after their argument. Over the years, he has slowly disconnected from everything that reminded him of them. Christmas just became a day for a bigger party.

While at the old farm house, Robert discovers something that has been hidden there for possibly generations. What secrets lay just beyond an old screeching gate? Will the miracle of Christmas find its way to Robert? Find out in the story, “The Christmas Gate.”

My Thoughts: This is a great story for the Christmas season. So many times, I’ve picked up Christmas books but found that they had nothing to do with the holiday. This book has several Christmas scenes that really set the mood for the Christmas season.

The story is similar to a Christmas Carol as the main character learns lessons by the way of supernatural experiences. Robert, the main character develops greatly through the story and goes from an unlikable person to someone who is very endearing.

I loved the setting of the story…it takes place in an old farmhouse in New York in the snow. The author was good at describing the home in a way that made me feel like I was there.

The different scenes that take place in the book are very relevant to our world today and caused me to analyze how I approach Christmas…it’s important not to lose Christ when celebrating His holiday.

I definitely recommend this Christmas story and look forward to reading book 2, which is being released soon!

My Rating: 4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author to review.

The Delusion by Laura Gallier Review

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Synopsis: By March of Owen Edmonds’s senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded–until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he’s not imagining the evil–everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it’s too late?

Owen’s heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

My Thoughts: I’m sitting here, trying to decide what adjective to use to begin this review. I want to give this book the credit and recognition it deserves. Amazing doesn’t seem like a “good enough” word to describe this book….

This book provides a visual picture of spiritual warfare…the invisible battle that wages each and every moment of every day around every person on Earth between the dark and light forces. I have never read a book that described this battle in such a clear way. There were moments that I had to put the book down and ponder what I had just read. There were moments when I got goosebumps, thinking about this war that is real but not seen by human eyes. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, flying through the pages, but nervous to see what was ahead.

This was a life-changing book for me. It changes the way I look at prayer and interceding for people with prayer, it showed how truly important prayer is in a very cool way.

The story shows how demonic forces can oppress Christians and possess non-Christians. There were some terrifying scenes that are more terrifying when you realize that this book, although fictional, is based on Biblical truths.

The book is a young adult story, focused around teenagers but would definitely be a good read for teens as well as adults. Because of the difficult and gritty content, I would recommend that it not be read by anyone under the age of 16.

My only problem is that it ended on a slight cliffhanger and I need more of the story! I am eagerly awaiting book 2. I highly recommend this book, it is my top rated book of 2017 so far.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers to review.