In All Things by Melissa B. Kruger Review

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Description: This accessible and practical Bible study of the book of Philippians invites you to discover a joy and contentment that will carry you through every circumstance of life.

With warm teaching and perspective-shifting insights, Bible teacher Melissa Kruger walks you through the power-packed words of the apostle Paul to believers in the early church to discover what he knew about the secret to unshakeable peace–and how his insights can help any woman discover a secure and satisfying contentment no matter what life may bring. With the Scripture passages printed right in the book for handy reference, this is an ideal resource for busy women of any life stage who want to deepen their spiritual life and increase their daily joy.

My Thoughts: This Bible study came to me at the perfect time. Centered on the book of Philippians, it focuses on finding contentment and peace in any circumstance.

The study is 9 weeks, broken down into 4 days of “homework” (scriptures with questions to answer) and a 5th day that is a devotional that ties up the week nicely.

The “homework” days took me an average of 30 minutes to complete. The scriptures that are discussed are always printed in the book so a Bible is not needed to complete the study (but I prefer to read them from my Bible).

The questions are fairly simple to answer but help the reader to think further on the scripture and break it down instead of breezing through it (as I tend to do). There are also a lot of questions that cause the reader to examine their spiritual life and go deeper with Christ.

I really enjoy Melissa Kruger’s style and how she breaks everything down. The subject of this study is one that everyone could benefit from in any season of their life.

I highly recommend this study for anyone searching for peace and contentment. It is set to release on June 5, 2018.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Beneath A Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer Review

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Synopsis: Estelle Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness?

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My Thoughts: This is the third book that I’ve read by Kim Vogel Sawyer and I can confidently say that she is becoming one of my favorite authors. I am not particularly a fan of historical fiction because I often find that it’s a bit predictable and cliched but Sawyer’s historical books do not fit into that mold.

I expected one thing when starting the book based on the synopsis and got something much different (in a good way).

The author is very gifted at character development…each character had their own voice and was very easy to picture. I found myself chuckling several times at the scenes of these “rascally” men who were very unrefined and just wanted to get some wives (the sooner the better). The contrast of these men to the uppity and snooty Abigail was very fun to read about.

This story took several very unexpected turns that surprised me. There was depth to this story that I’ve found in all of Sawyer’s books, which really adds to the enjoyment and makes them more memorable.

I also appreciated that although there was romance, it began as a friendship and was very slow burning and sweet.

My only wish was that there was an epilogue to see where these characters were in the future. A sequel would be even better!

All in all, this was a very enjoyable story that I could see myself rereading in the future. I definitely recommend Kim Vogel Sawyer’s books…I plan to purchase many more to read.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse Review

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Synopsis: A New Series Begins for Lovers of History, Adventure, Romance, and Ancestry 
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Mary Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

My Thoughts: First of all, the cover of this book is beautiful. I was also very intrigued by the premise…the story follows Mary Chapman, who is travelling to the New World from Holland. I have never read a book about this time period so I was looking forward to this story.

The author does a great job at capturing the emotions that the Mayflower passengers experienced during their long journey. The story really made me reflect on the apprehension and fear that these people felt.

The story includes both fictional characters and true passengers from the Mayflower. I learned a lot about the voyage and enjoyed the atmospheric quality of the story. I could easily picture the sights and smells that the author so vividly described throughout the story.

At times I felt that the story was a bit slow moving but overall it was very interesting and atmospheric. I will definitely pick up the other books in the series.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Coldwater by Samuel Parker Review

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Synopsis: Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the only home he’d ever known. An empty shell of a man who now lived–if it could be called living–in the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight. A town that hated him. Had always hated him. And was ready to pick up where the prison system had let off.

Now he’s on the run from men who’ve tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con. A powerful, sinister force creeps inside him, threatening and destructive. Who–and what–it will destroy next is the only real question. From the bold voice that brought readers down Purgatory Road comes a new pulse-pounding, spine-rattling tale of vengeance and justice that will have them up all night.

My Thoughts: The first chapter of this book is possibly one of the most anxiety-provoking and stressful scenes that I’ve read in a book, ever! I am extremely claustrophobic and the thought of that scene as it’s very vividly described by the author sent chills down my body and almost caused me to stop reading because of the intensity of the scene. This is a testament to how great Samuel Parker’s writing is.

Parker is very good at showing the reader things through the character’s eyes instead of narrating it and “telling” it. The scenes were all very descriptive and I found myself on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what was truly going on in the story.

This is the kind of story that is best experienced by knowing very little about the plot. This makes the revelations more interesting.

I found the story to be a great thriller but not such a great novel as far as the Christian aspect goes. There were definitely supernatural elements at play but I was very disappointed to only truly see the “evil” side of things. The “good” never showed up and I feel like a great opportunity was missed. I was pleased to find that the content was very clean and lacked cursing and graphic scenes. There were some scenes of violence but the author left a lot to the reader’s imagination instead of getting too graphic.

Overall, I found this to be an exciting read but would have liked more faith content.

My Rating: 4 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing Group to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Uncloaked Trilogy by J. Rodes Review and Giveaway!

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The Uncloaked Synopsis: “Apathy is the illness of the overprivileged…” Words laced with fear—and maybe a hint of prophecy. His father’s words. Words Braxton would prefer to ignore.

Braxton Luther is sixteen when the Progressive Reform Party takes over the government. It can’t be that bad. So they don’t want religion in government—that’s constitutional. He can’t understand his church’s hypersensitive reaction or his father’s cryptic warning to stand against the Party’s ultimatums.

But after living under the new government for a year, Braxton faces a choice—conform to the demands of the ungodded in order to protect his best friend, Eliza, or defy the system and go into hiding, ensuring a life of misery. Still certain that life will settle back into normalcy in the near future, Braxton chooses compliance.

Then the killings begin, and Eliza is captured and sent to Reformation Camp for her defiance. Reality finally sinks in.

Apathy is no longer a choice.

2-Tearing the Veil

Tearing the Veil Synopsis (Spoilers for Book 1): Braxton Luther, the sellout.
Now a part of the Den, he’s determined to make good on Eliza Knight’s faith in him—to be more than what he’d settled for when the Party had taken over. But his goal is dangerous, and not just for him. As he searches for a way to protect the silent, invisible victims of the new government, Braxton’s mission—which includes finding a way to rescue Eliza from the Reformation Camp—becomes even more complicated. Hannah Knight, Eliza’s sister, is simply too much like him.
Tired of standing in her perfect sister’s shadow, Hannah determines to find her own place in the world. If that place is with the Pride—the girls’ home and training center provided by the Party—so be it. When she leaves the hopelessness of the cellar, that’s all she’s aiming for. But Quinn Sanger, the handsome son of a powerful political leader, finds her at the creek, and her life takes an unexpected and optimistic turn.
Braxton’s convinced Hannah’s in trouble. Hannah’s convinced Braxton, and all the Uncloaked, are insane. But when they peek behind the real veil the Party maintains, the truth is beyond what either had feared or hoped.
If everyone knew, it could change everything. They redefine their mission. It’s time to tear the veil.

3-The Charging Darkness

Charging the Darkness Synopsis (Spoilers for Books 1 and 2): You were not saved for this… 

The veil has been torn, but Braxton Luther still has more to do.
The captive Uncloaked have been freed, and the people know the dark truth. A rebellion against the Party has begun, but the question lingers among those who are safely hidden in the Refuge–what will happen to their broken nation? Secrets and shame, resentment and hatred continue to shake the nation, now divided.

What will it take to break the grip of the Party? Beyond that, is there any hope of healing after the damage of the darkness?

My Thoughts of the entire trilogy (Spoiler free): 

I love dystopian stories, they always cause a bit of anxiety as I allow my mind to wonder, “could this really happen?”. This was the first Christian dystopian trilogy I’ve read and was the most terrifying dystopian series I’ve read so far as when I pondered, “could this really happen?” I realized that the answer was yes.  These books caused me to reexamine my faith and consider what I would do if I came to a place where apathy is no longer an option.

In the trilogy, the reader follows Braxton, who is a preacher’s kid that faces a very difficult choice. His character development throughout the books is amazing…I went from being frustrated with him to being very proud of him. The other characters were also great…there were some great twists and surprises that I never saw coming. The author was great at connecting the books and making the story flow nicely.

The stories also send a beautiful message of forgiveness. I’ve read other books with Christian characters in uncertain times and found the emphasis on love lacking at times. I really appreciated how the characters in this book still allowed their lights to shine throughout their turmoil and showed love to those “undeserving” of it.

Overall, this was an amazing set of books that I will definitely revisit in the future. It’s thought provoking, adventurous, and unputdownable.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received these books from the author/publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author:

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Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.

Born in Colorado, she experienced both the seclusion of rugged mountain living and the busy streets of a Denver suburb during her growing up years. Somewhere in the middle of college, she married a Husker and found her way back to the quiet lifestyle of a rural area, which suits just fine.

Blessed with a robust curiosity, Jen loves to research. Whether she’s investigating the history of a given area, the biography of a Christian icon, or how nature declares the glory of God, her daily goal is to learn something new. Aiming to live with boundless enthusiasm, her creed is vision, pursuit, and excellence.

Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life.

CONNECT WITH JENNIFER: websitefacebookgoodreadstwitter

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January 8: Soulfully Romantic
January 11: Just Commonly 
January 12: Remembrancy
January 15: amandainpa
January 18: Henry Happens
January 20: Pause for Tales

 

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NIV Journal the Word Bible for Teen Girls Review

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Description: Reflect, respond, and grow closer to your heavenly Father. With hundreds of journaling prompts and plenty of space for notes, art, and doodles, the NIV Journal the Word™ Bible for Teen Girls provides a place to capture your thoughts while reading Scripture. Journal your feelings, dreams, and hopes. Create art, color, and doodle. However you wish to creatively express yourself, engage with God’s heart and get to know the One who knows and loves you.

Features:

Hundreds of thought-provoking questions for teen girls to reflect on and respond to
8-point type size
Lined, wide margins for notes and reflections
Thicker white paper for enduring note-taking
Full text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV) translation
Words of Jesus in red
Lays flat in your hand or on your desk
Ribbon marker

My Thoughts: I started journaling when I was about 13 or 14…it was a time in my life when I had so many thoughts and a roller coaster of emotions. I wish this Bible would have been around back then. What is unique to this Bible are the journaling prompts that are directed specifically to teenage girls. The prompts reflect on the verses in the corresponding passages and are very thought provoking. I own a journaling Bible that only has wide margins and a “do it yourself” format…this Bible has many blank pages that allow for creativity but the prompts add almost a devotional aspect to the journaling.

The Bible is beautiful…the gold cover has the perfect hint of a shimmer and the floral design is very pretty. It has a red ribbon bookmark and my favorite feature, which is that the edges of the pages are colored pink. It’s a nice size and lays flat, which is very important. I also like that the design is a bit more mature than some Bibles that are directed towards teens…an adult would like this Bible’s design as well so the recipient could use it for a long time.

The NIV translation still remains my favorite, so I’m pleased to find it in this Bible.

I highly recommend this Bible. It would make a beautiful and meaningful gift.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this Bible from Booklook bloggers to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Andi Lassos Trouble and Andi to the Rescue by Susan K. Marlow Review

Andi Lassos Trouble Synopsis: When the Circle C ranch decides to host a rodeo competition with two other ranches, dozens of cowboys are eager to prove they’re the best riders and ropers in the valley. But they’re not the only ones who want to show off their skills–Andi aims to lasso her way to the prizes, even if big brother Chad says the contest isn’t for kids.

The roundup is meant to be a time for food, fun, and friendship. But before Andi can prove she’s got what it takes to be a real cowgirl, the day turns dangerous. Will a friendly rodeo turn into a range war between ranchers and sheepherders? Can Andi and her family keep their neighbors–and themselves–safe?

My Thoughts: This was a fun story about 9 year old Andi, who lives on a ranch in 1877. In order to separate cattle for different ranches, the Circle C ranch decides to hold a rodeo. Andi excitedly practices roping, hopeful to participate in the children’s events.

Andi is a delightful character, a bit precocious and somewhat of a tomboy, she was a lot of fun to read about. I enjoyed the rodeo scene and found the history lesson at the end of the book very informative.

The book also has some great illustrations throughout that really add to the story.

This would be a very enjoyable story for any young girl between the ages of 7 and 10 to read.

My Rating: 4 stars

Andi to the Rescue Synopsis: This is so embarrassing. Andi’s teacher, Miss Hall, is sick–and Mother is the substitute teacher. What will Andi’s friends think?

But it turns out embarrassment is the last thing Andi needs to worry about when two outlaws kidnap Andi and her mother after school in a case of mistaken identity! They can’t even tell the kidnappers a mistake has been made without putting themselves in even more danger.

Now they’re being held in a remote cabin until Mother can teach the man in charge how to read–and he’s willing to go to any length to make it happen. Andi must escape and find help. But can she lead a rescue party back to Mother before the outlaws take their new teacher–and disappear forever?

My Thoughts: In this story, Andi’s mother becomes a temporary substitute teacher for her school. Andi and her mother are leaving school and get kidnapped by outlaws and taken to a cabin.

I enjoyed this story a bit more than Andi Lassos Trouble simply because I wasn’t as interested in all the “horse talk” in the first book.

The story is adventurous and suspenseful but also very clean with good faith content. I really like Andi’s mother and how she reacted to many different situations.

The author is very good at describing the scenes and the pacing was very good.

I also really enjoyed the history lesson about Black Bart at the end of the book. The extra true lessons are a great addition to the stories.

I definitely recommend this series to young girls.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

I received these books from Kregel Publishers to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.