Rise of the Mystics by Ted Dekker Review

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Synopsis:

Some say the great mystery of how one can live in two worlds at once died with Thomas Hunter many years ago. Still others that the gateway to that greater reality was and is only the stuff of dreams. They are all wrong.

Rachelle Matthews, who grew up in the small town of Eden, Utah, discovered just how wrong when she dreamed and awoke in another world. There she learned that she was the 49th Mystic, the prophesied one, tasked with finding five ancient seals before powerful enemies destroy her. If Rachelle succeeds in her quest, peace will reign. If she fails, the world will forever be locked in darkness.

In The 49th Mystic, Rachelle found the first three of those five seals through great peril and mind-altering adventure. But two seals remain hidden and the fate of both worlds hangs in their balance.

As Rachelle Matthews sits deep in a dungeon, Vlad Smith is just getting started. Thomas Hunter’s world is about to be turned inside out. The mystics say that there is no defense against the Fifth Seal–but finding it will cost Rachelle everything.

So begins the final volume of high stakes in one girl’s quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity. The clock is ticking; the end rushes forward.

My Thoughts:

This is the thrilling conclusion to the Beyond the Circle Duology and it did not disappoint. The story picks up where the first one leaves off. We continue to follow Rachelle, the 49th Mystic as she goes on adventures to solve mysteries.

I preferred the storylines that occurred in present day over the scenes in the more fantastical world. Like the first story, there were times when I felt the story became bogged down by wordiness and dialogue.

I loved the characters and following them on their adventures. The scenes were described vividly and the action was intense.

If you are looking to dip your toes into the fantasy genre, this would be a great place to start.

My Rating:

3 stars

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

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof Review

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Synopsis

Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.

Having fled the farm after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s which is already at stake through a grave illness brought to him as the first prick of warfare.

Now Haakon faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

My Thoughts

I was eager to return to the world of the Norgaard family and Joanne Bischof’s rich storytelling and I wasn’t disappointed. This story picks up a few years where the first one left off and, though one could probably read this as a standalone and catch up, it would be much better to read the first book as well (the romance in it is definitely worth it!)

Thor and Aven’s relationship is so beautiful and it was even sweeter in this book. There is also a lot of turmoil surrounding the Norgaard family in this book…angry people and someone seeking forgiveness.

Reading Bischof’s stories always transports me to another time and place, I adore her writing style and descriptions, and her characters are people that I wish I really knew.

This is another winner by Joanne Bischof and I highly recommend it!

My Rating

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

Spotlight on Moments We Forget by Beth K. Vogt!

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This is my stop during the bookstagram blitz for Moments We Forget by Beth K. Vogt. This bookstagram blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. This bookstagram blitz runs from 7 till 13 May. See the tour schedule here.

Moments We ForgetMoments We Forget (The Thatcher Sisters #2)
By Beth K. Vogt
Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Christian Fiction
Age category: Adult
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Release Date: May7, 2019

Blurb:
Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

You can find Moments We Forget on Goodreads

You can buy Moments We Forget here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Tyndale House Publishers
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
Get It Local Now
Christian Book Distributors
Walmart

Excerpt:
I had half an hour, no more than that, to get my life in order so my sisters would never suspect how unprepared I was for this morning.
I kicked the back door shut, dumping the plastic grocery bags onto the kitchen counter, easing the ache in my arms. If Johanna were hosting this morning, she’d have something homemade baking in her oven, the appealing aroma filling her immaculate kitchen.
Well, one thing was for certain—I was not Johanna.
Winston’s frantic barks sounded from upstairs. Seconds later, he was scampering around my feet, his sudden appearance meaning I’d forgotten to lock him in his kennel. Again.
“Bad dog.” A halfhearted reprimand. “You’re not supposed to be down here.”
I pulled items from the plastic bags. Please don’t let me have forgotten anything during my mad dash through the grocery store.
Cream for Johanna’s and my coffee—although she was going to have to make do with my Keurig coffeemaker, not French press.
A small box of sugar so Payton could enjoy her coffee with the preferred three heaping spoonfuls per cup.
A premade fruit salad.
Blueberry muffins.
Keurig pods.
Nothing fancy. But at least I wouldn’t look like a complete failure.
I suppose to a casual observer, Johanna, Payton, and I—the three remaining Thatcher sisters—appeared successful. And yet, while we might claim certain professional and romantic achievements, we still struggled to find our way as sisters.
At times Pepper’s words—the ones Payton had shared with Johanna and me several months ago—seemed more of a taunt than an encouragement.
“Sometimes you just have to forget all the other stuff and remember we’re sisters.”
Shouldn’t a role you acquired at birth be simple? Something you learned to do, along with walking and talking and navigating adolescence?
But then Pepper’s death at sixteen splintered our already-precarious bonds.
I selected three mugs from a kitchen cupboard. This was no time to try to unravel the complicated dynamics between me, Johanna, and Payton—not when they’d be here any minute. And not with so much riding on this morning.
It’s funny how much hope people put into a cup of coffee.
Social media—Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and even millions of people’s text messages around the world—overflow daily with memes and GIFs lauding the miracle qualities of coffee.
Coffee is the gasoline of life.
All I need is coffee and mascara.
Behind every successful person is a substantial amount of coffee.
I drink coffee for your protection.
Drink coffee and do good.

And now . . . now coffee would be the glue that bonded the three of us together.

Check out the first book in this series!
Things I Never Told You (The Thatcher Sisters #1)
Things I Never Told You
As old wounds reopen and possible tragedy awaits, the Thatcher sisters must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.

Links for Things I Never Told You:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Tyndale House Publishers
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
Get It Local Now
Christian Book Distributors
Walmart

Beth K. VogtAbout the Author:
Beth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind doors marked Never. Beth’s first novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, released in May 2018. Moments We Forget, book two in the Thatcher Sisters series, releases May 2019. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

You can find and contact Beth K. Vogt here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon
Bookbub
Instagram


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Gone Too Soon by Melody Carlson Review and Giveaway!

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About the Book

Book: Gone Too Soon

Author: Melody Carlson

Genre: Young Adult

Release Date: November 15, 2018

Gone Too SoonAn icy road. A car crash.
A family changed forever.

Hannah Josephson had always been the “perfect” daughter. Kiera couldn’t live up to her before, and she certainly can’t now that her older sister has died in a car accident. But the image she carried resentfully of Hannah is challenged when she finds her dead sister’s diary and begins to read. Apparently Hannah’s final year wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought.

Caught in a pattern of blaming each other, the Josephson family is falling apart. Their father has left, their mother is mixing opiates and alcohol, little sister Maddie has been shipped off to spend the whole summer with their grandmother, and Kiera feels utterly alone with her grief and anger. A summer job helping at a park in a poor section of town provides a friend and a purpose.

But it’s Hannah’s diary that fills her thoughts. For the first time in years, she feels close to the sister she’s lost. But can the knowledge she gleans about her possibly help her patch back together the family that seems determined to implode?

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts

This was a very gritty and sad story about a family that is falling apart after the death of one of the teenage daughters.

The story follows Kiera, the sister of Hannah, who passed away in a car accident. Kiera just discovered Hannah’s diary and begins reading it to learn more about what Hannah was going through up to the accident. The chapters following Kiera are told in first person. I enjoyed reading about Kiera, she was very honest and her development throughout the story was great.

The reader also follows Kiera’s mother Moira (in third person), who is struggling with many addictions while trying to cope with the loss of her daughter. The relationship between Moira and Kiera was very difficult to read and sad.

The message of faith in the story was good and the ending was almost a bit chilling. I appreciated the story but I found it very sad to read.

Overall, this would be a good story for older teens who enjoy contemporary stories.

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

About the Author

Melody CarlsonMelody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women, and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, True Colors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including RT’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita, and the Gold medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog.

More from Melody

I think I’ve written about a hundred or more teen novels, but Gone Too Soon, a rather serious story, is a bit different. There’s no denying I’ve covered a bunch of gritty issues—everything from self-harm to suicide to murder—but I’ve never written a novel quite like this one. For starters, I wrote it from two viewpoints. Both the teenage daughter and her mother express themselves in this story. And because the premise involves an untimely death, the family is torn apart. As a result, there’s a lot of guilt and blame and confusion going around. They’re all in pain.

I’ve been asked several times what “inspired” this story. And I’m sad to say that it’s simply a case of “art imitating life.” I live in a small community where too many young people have died “too soon.” These untimely deaths—for a variety of random and unexplainable reasons—are devastating. I know more than a dozen families (some very close friends) who have tragically lost a child. So I’ve seen up close how it can tear a family apart. It’s truly heartbreaking, often leaving friends and family without words of comfort or explanation.

But that’s not the only reason I wrote this story. My hope is that teens (who often feel invincible) will be reminded that they are mortal and that this earthly life is temporary. Hard as it sounds, death is inevitable. And it’s not that I want everyone to be obsessed about dying, but we do live in a culture that practices denial about the end of a life. No one really wants to talk about it. My hope is that readers will take a hard, honest look, peel back some layers, and face death for what it is—a part of earthly life. And I hope readers will close the book with a little more understanding . . . and hope.

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, April 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 25

Emily Yager, April 26

The Power of Words, April 26

Moments, April 26

Christian Bookaholic, April 27

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 27

Hallie Reads, April 27

Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews, April 28

Mary Hake, April 28

janicesbookreviews, April 28

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, April 29

SusanLovesBooks, April 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 29

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 30

Just the Write Escape, April 30

Carla Loves toRead, May 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 2

Blogging With Carol, May 2

Ashley’s Bookshelf, May 2

Through the Fire Blogs, May 3

Reading Themes, May 3

For The Love of Books, May 3

the Midnight Bookaholic, May 4

amandainpa, May 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 4

Bigreadersite, May 5

Texas Book-aholic, May 5

The Becca Files, May 6

Remembrancy, May 6

Inklings and notions, May 7

this chattanooga mommy saves, May 7

A Reader’s Brain, May 8

For Him and My Family, May 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melody is giving away a grand prize of paperback copy of Gone Too Soon and a matching journal!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/dfa9/gone-too-soon-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

A Silken Thread by Kim Vogel Sawyer Review

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Synopsis

For readers who love a heartwarming romance and a rich historical setting comes a tale of a young woman with a heavy burden, the International Cotton Exposition, and the pursuit of true love.

Eighteen-year-old Laurel Millard, youngest of seven children, is expected to stay home and “take care of Mama” by her older siblings, but Laurel has dreams of starting her own family. Operating a silk loom at the Atlanta Exposition will give her the chance to capture the heart of a man wealthy enough to take care of Laurel and any children she might bear, as well as her mother.

Langdon Rochester’s parents have given him an ultimatum: settle down with a wife or lose his family inheritance. At the Exposition, Langdon meets Laurel. Marrying her would satisfy his parents’s command, she would look lovely on his arm for social events, and in her besotted state, he believes she would overlook him continuing pursuing rowdy adventures with his unmarried buddies. Langdon decides to woo Laurel. Willie Sharp is not well-off and must take on an extra job at the Atlanta Exposition as a security guard. When mischief-makers cause trouble in the Women’s Building, Willie is put in charge of keeping the building secure. He enjoys visiting with Laurel, who seems like the little sister he never had, but his feelings for Laurel change to something much deeper. Can Willie convince Laurel that he can give her better life–even with so little to offer?

My Thoughts

Although I’m not a fan of romance, I always enjoy books by Kim Vogel Sawyer. She is very gifted in her storytelling ability and I always find myself immersed in her books. This story is set in 1895, during the Atlanta Cotton Exposition. It is 30 years after the Civil War but racial tension is still running very strong.

Sawyer addresses the issue of racism in a realistic way without sugar coating the ugliness and hatred that was present.

The main character, Laurel is courted by a very wealthy man named Langdon. It is very clear throughout the book that Langdon’s character is extremely poor but Laurel doesn’t see it. I became extremely frustrated with her and it ruined my enjoyment of the book a bit.

I loved the setting of the story, the sights and sounds of the Cotton Exposition were described very well and I felt as though I was there.

Overall, this was another good story by Kim Vogel Sawyer but it wasn’t my favorite.

My Rating

3 stars

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

The 49th Mystic by Ted Dekker Review

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Synopsis

Some say the great mystery of how one can live in two worlds at once died with Thomas Hunter many years ago. Still others that the gateway to that greater reality was and is only the stuff of dreams.

They are wrong. In the small town of Eden, Utah, a blind girl named Rachelle Matthews is about to find out just how wrong.

When a procedure meant to restore Rachelle’s sight goes awry, she begins to dream of another world so real that she wonders if Earth might only be a dream experienced when she falls asleep in that reality. Who is a simple blind girl to have such strange and fantastic dreams?

She’s the prophesied one who must find and recover five ancient seals–in both worlds–before powerful enemies destroy her. If Rachelle succeeds in her quest, peace will reign. If she fails, both worlds will forever be locked in darkness.

So begins a two-volume saga of high stakes and a mind-bending quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity. The clock is ticking; the end rushes forward.

Ready? Set?

My Thoughts

I have heard a lot of good things about Ted Dekker’s Circle Series so I was thrilled when I won this book from the Goodreads giveaways. This is a spin off of the Circle series but it easily stands alone (I haven’t read the Circle series, but now I want to!). It is the first book in a duology, with book 2, The Rise of the Mystics also released.

The story falls into several genres…dystopian, fantasy, post-apocalyptic. It has no romance, which I loved. The pacing is brisk and the story is full of action. Although I’m new to fantasy and it’s not my go-to genre, I found that this story was very easy to follow and picture.

The characters were very interesting and thought out. There were many characters but I didn’t struggle to distinguish them from one another.

Beyond the story is a much deeper meaning that I appreciated but at times I felt that the theological explanations and speeches became very wordy and drawn out.

Overall, the story was enjoyable and ended with me excited to read the next installment.

My Rating

3.5 stars

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Justice Delivered by Patricia Bradley Review

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Synopsis:

Carly Smith came by her trust issues honestly. A victim of sex trafficking, she’s been at the mercy of merciless men, ignored by law enforcement officers who should have helped her, and seemingly rejected by her family. She can’t even trust herself to do the right thing. Though she escaped her captors and is working hard on building a new life, the past continues to haunt her when she discovers that the man she couldn’t bring herself to report to police for fear of reliving her captivity is still out there, luring vulnerable girls under the guise of being a modeling agent.

When her own niece is kidnapped, Carly must overcome her fears and come forward with the information she has before it’s too late. When that proves to be not enough, she’ll have to go after the perpetrators herself.

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley keeps the suspense taut and the stakes high in this fast-paced story that will have readers turning pages long into the night.

Review:

I always enjoy Patricia Bradley’s books and this one was no exception. It was full of suspense and mystery that kept the reader on their toes with every twist and turn. This book focuses on the terrifying issue of human trafficking. The author doesn’t shy away from the awful reality of this issue but also doesn’t go into gory details, which I appreciated.

The characters in the book were well written and had many flaws (which made them feel more real). There were a lot of characters in the story and at times it was a bit difficult to keep track of who was who.

The pacing was good and there weren’t any moments in the story that dragged. I did feel like it was a bit longer than it could have been (at one point it felt like the story should have been done and then another event occurred to keep it going).

Overall, this was another great story from Patricia Bradley. I really enjoy her stories and look forward to reading more!

My Rating:

4 stars

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