Thursday, July 5, 2018

march - july 2018

note from me:

hello, dear reading friends!!!

for over 12+ years, it has been a joy to share all my five star picks with you!!! together we have read thousands of books and shared our favorites with the women in our life. so i'm very sad to say that this will be my last post as a blogger here. we're moving in a few short days (imagine how crazy it's been to sort, pack, read, post my review and repeat!) and for the past year, i've started a new career that involves working with children with special needs. it's incredibly challenging, draining and yet, exhilarating at the same time! this season of life has taught me that i can't do it all while being a mom and wife, too.

thank you for reading with me, sharing your comments, encouragements and prayer requests!!! as always, i want to encourage you to keep reading but don't forget to engage with the people God has placed in your life to minister to!!! people matter.

i'll end this note with my favorite verses from jeremiah 29:11-14a. read it. share it. live it.

blessings, love & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


hands down, this was one of the most powerful stories i have ever read and you're definitely going to need a box of kleenexes near by! before i saw you by amy k. sorrells explores heart issues such as the opiate crisis, challenging home environments, the death of a sibling, unexpected pregnancies, incarcerated parents and more. jaycee givens is a character you can't help but love! she loves her baby brother and she loves helping her neighbor rehab wildlife around them. although she's gone through more heartache than any child should go through, you still see the hand of God in her life. sorrells paints a message of grace and hope despite the messiness of jaycee's life. this story is a perfect fit for your reading group with discussion questions in the back of the book. find out what's coming up next for amy k. sorrels by checking out her website at

trish bailey and her mom's life changed when a tractor trailer crashed into their vehicle two years ago. both women lost their spouses and trish's mom was critically injured. trish made the decision to move home and care for her mom who had a stroke and she's in no hurry to find romance again despite her mom's recent not-so-subtle attempts to play matchmaker. matt parker is the accountant for her parent's charitable foundation and came highly recommended by their pastor, but trish isn't feeling the connection! when her mom is found dead over suspicious circumstances after her last date with matt, trish is interviewed by detective colin flynn of the crimes against persons bureau.  detective flynn begins to investigate and realizes there's something sinister at hand and trish bailey may be in danger. dangerous illusions is the the first installment of irene hannon's series code of honor and readers will discover that there's more than meets the eye. to learn more about irene hannon, visit her at

fans of author madeleine l'engle are going to appreciate the day the angels fell by shawn smucker. written in the voice of twelve-year-old samuel chambers, readers will be drawn into the day he stumbles upon three old women dressed like gypsies and the message they leave behind... find the tree of life. samuel and his best friend, abra embark on a quest and you'll be drawn to the lessons they learn while they search for the one thing samuel hopes will bring his mother back. look for smucker's next book coming this summer and learn more about him online at

two women. many centuries apart. one ring and one faith. in this time slip novel by heidi chiavaroli, freedom's ring, you'll meet annie david, a survivor of the boston marathon bombing in 2015 and liberty caldwell, a survivor of the boston massacre. both women go through a tremendous amount of pain and learn to face their fears as they grow their faith. annie david never expected a stranger's ring to mean so much to her. when she meets brad kilroy for the second time, she learns that the ring belonged to his family for generations. the mystery of the ring and it's latin inscription spur annie and brad to uncover the mystery of the ring's original owner. this sweet story is a reminder that love and faith will get you through the storms of life. to learn more about chiavaroli, go to her website at

fbi special agent kord davidson has a problem. he has to work with an operative from the cia when there's an assassination attempt on saudi prince omar bin tall who is visiting houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother. neither have a choice in the decision and together, they have to put aside their differences. in high treason, the 3rd book in the fbi task force series by diann mills, readers, you're going to be on the edge of your seat following kord and monica as they try to hunt down the assassin who seems to always be one step ahead of them! more on best-selling and award-winning author diann mills can be found here at

charming is a great way to describe the town of harbor pointe, michigan but for olympian skier grady benson, it's a forgettable town he's stuck in for five weeks to complete his community service sentence. in just let go you'll meet quinn collins, the newest business owner of a flower shop she's had a history with as long as she can remember.  the last thing in the world she needs is to babysit an arrogant olympian who's been assigned to her to fulfill his community service hours. quinn has her hands full trying to prepare for the launch of her shop's opening day, the town's annual harbor pointe winter carnival and her floral designs for the michigan floral expo competition! i loved reading this one!!! just let go by courtney walsh highlights the beauty of family, friendships and second chances. fans of walsh can visit her online at

kelsey allen wants to launch her own security business but she needs to clear her name and her father's name. she hopes to prove herself while going undercover as a conservator at the museum while testing their security system. while there, maybe she can look into the art theft accusations against her father who disappeared when she was a young child. it's a win win, right?!? it is until she gets shot at! in justice buried (part of a series called a memphis cold case novel) by patricia bradley, you will find spine-tingling suspense, unexpected twists and turns, murder and plenty of suspects! it's a race against time before someone else gets hurt. you can go to to learn more about patricia bradley.

imagine waking up and finding yourself strapped down in a hospital where your blood is being drawn. that's what happened to nick reese in the nephilim virus by john t. prather. nick wakes up from a coma and discovers the world as he knew it changed. people have been exposed to a blood-borne virus and a cure hasn't been discovered... yet. it's up to nick, his hematologist named faith and a man called the commander to survive while being hunted by the infected. this story is a blend of science fiction and reminds me of an allegory. you can get more information on the author (he's a model and an actor) by going to

once he gets his half of his mother's estate, liam berne will be ready to begin a new life. he's going to quit his current dead end job and start his own business. he's got it all planned out and no one will know what happened to his mother after her body is recovered from the sure foot river. alzheimer's has changed his once vivacious and engaging mom into a woman who is fearful, confused and forgetful, so ending her life is the most merciful thing to do. although liam has taken care to cover his tracks, he overlooked one minor detail... a twelve-year old eye witness. only by death is the second book in best-selling suspense novelist kathy herman's series ozark mountain trilogy where her characters struggle with life issues that threaten their faith in God. herman's characters are both authentic and endearing (especially jesse!) and you'll fall in love with the residents of foggy ridge, too! you can learn more about herman on her website at

when hawk cummings ignores his conscience and lies to his family and girlfriend, the consequences of his choices brings danger to the front doors of the angel view lodge. again. once again, kate and her husband elliot along with kate's children must depend on their faith in God to get them through some suspenseful and dangerous times. in a treacherous mix, the finale of her series ozark mountain trilogy, kathy herman paints a vivid picture of how the devil can get a foothold in our lives when we allow deceit to come in and choose to ignore the power of God's Word as our moral compass. hawk cummings learns this firsthand when he falls for a vulnerable and beautiful woman who will mysteriously disappear without a trace one afternoon. readers get to see the painful consequences of his actions and how it affects every member of their family and even beyond hawk's community. don't miss the insightful "a note from the author" and the discussion questions (this one is a perfect choice for your book club!!!) in the afterwords section after page 372. look for this edge-of-your-seat read coming your way in august!!!

you are going to love this latest regency romance like i did from best-selling author carolyn miller! in winning miss winthrop, you'll meet a cast of characters who will win your heart (and some not so much!!!)! three years ago, catherine winthrop was in love with a gentleman beneath her station. but one day, everything changes and catherine's heart is left in pieces. then unfortunate circumstances bring the two back into each other's lives and catherine must learn to navigate her new station in life while watching her former love from afar. this charming story is engaging with hilariously witty dialogue, colorful characters, lovely clothing and gossip (!) that will transport you back to 1816! winning miss winthrop is the first volume in miller's new series, regency brides: a promise of hope. to learn more about what's next from carolyn miller, visit


aching joy: following God through the land of unanswered prayer by jason hague is an authentic look at what he's learned from God through parenting his son with severe autism. if you've ever experienced the difficulty of navigating life in the midst of unanswered prayers, then you'll find renewed hope in your challenges.  i loved the stories of struggle hague shares with his readers and i think his message in aching joy will resonate with you, too. visit to learn more.

a call to love: preparing your heart & soul for adoption by julie holmquist offers insight from scripture, personal experiences, stories from other adoptive parents and resources. holmquist reminds couples waiting to adopt or in the midst of  adoption that God's provision and a community of friends, family and professionals are vital in this journey. once i started reading, i couldn't put this book down. julie and her husband's stories of the struggles and joys of parenting two siblings from russia brought tears to my eyes. their story gave me fresh perspective on the hurdles many families go through and the calling required in the adoption journey. learn more about julie holmquist's story at

courage, dear friend: letters to a weary world by rebecca reynolds intrigued me when i first started reading this to review for you. reynolds seeks to give three gifts to her readers - gifts that she needed during her times of weariness. the gifts are words, presence and hope and as you read through this series of letters for anyone who is feeling lonely, weary, discouraged and fearful, you'll get the importance of her gifts. i love the fictional retelling of leah and rachel's story and all the different personal stories reynolds uses to reiterate biblical truth to let readers know they have value and are not forgotten. you're going to love her gentle style of storytelling like i did. for more on rebecca reynolds and her writing, visit

eternity is now in session: a radical rediscovery of what Jesus really taught about salvation, eternity, and getting to the good place by john ortberg is engaging and thought-provoking. ortberg reminds Christ-followers that "following Jesus is not a static religious identity but a dynamic calling that constantly invigorates and challenges us." (pg.48)  in his book, he also points out that being a Christ-follower is more that just trying to satisfy the minimum requirements of our faith. ortberg gives a great example on page 29 on the consequences of his wedding day if he had asked his bride, "what's the absolute least i can do to stay married to you? what's the lowest level of commitment, the fewest affirmations, the smallest promises, the highest level of ignorance permissible? what are the minimum requirements for maintaining my husband status?" this is a book that will definitely challenge Christ-followers to go and make disciples and live out our faith!
visit john ortberg at his website at

the faith of dolly parton: lessons from her life to lift your heart by award-winning writer dudley delffs seamlessly weaves life lessons from dolly parton and how she inspired delffs in his own life story. at the end of every chapter, you'll find questions based on the contents of that chapter that will challenge you and maybe even push you out of your comfort zone along with a prayer. at the time delffs wrote the book, he hadn't met dolly personally - i'm hoping that has changed by now!

feisty & feminine: a rallying cry for conservative women by penny young nance challenges readers to  "understand how they can stand up, be heard and make a difference in our culture." i love how nance points out that we are facing an "esther moment" when our voice needs to be heard over issues that are relevant in our culture. she challenges that our message must always be redemptive and gives insight on what "esther women" can do on very specific relevant issues. nance writes with authority and comes across very personable and passionate. i like that you can read about other women who are making a difference in today's world (i loved reading about women like lila rose, crystal macias and jeanne mancini!). i feel strongly that every women should read this book because it's time we took a stand for our beliefs and values. penny young nance is the coo and president of concerned women for america. learn more by visiting

fierce faith: a woman's guide to fighting fear, wrestling worry, and overcoming anxiety by alli worthington is a must read for you. worthington writes in a personable style that is easy to read and very relatable. she shares her story honestly and writes from a heart of love and care. in here, she examines eight types of fear that any woman can relate to. then she uses biblical illustrations and gives practical insight along with relevant examples on how to fight it and overcome! it's a journey towards healing and the "battle plan" beginning on page 205 can be dowloaded! you gotta love that!!! go to to learn more.

fledge: launching your kids without losing your mind by brenda l. yoder helps prepare parents and their families in the stage of life where they release their children into the future God has planned for them. yoder points out that God's blueprint for the family is in the bible and so focuses on psalm 127 (and other Scripture) as she uses biblical wisdom and her own experience to help parents navigate the transition to launch their children well. yoder offers helpful explanations on various parenting relationships as well as taking a look at specific unhealthy and healthy parenting themes. there are questions to review after every chapter and practical advice, strategies and wisdom for every parent! i really like that yoder doesn't forget families of children with special needs. check out the appendix beginning on page 235. find out more at

HIStory in 30 days: genesis to revelation by carole o. schryber is an incredible resource with daily devotions that highlights the overall redemption plan of God in scripture. this book is not only for christians but for non-christians. schryber points out that "every foretelling about the lineage, birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ the Savior can be traced and is fulfilled in the sixty-six books of the Bible." be sure to check out the appendix (pp. 127-132) for additional resource. you can check out schryber's weekly blog at

holy in the moment: simple ways to love God and enjoy your life by ginger harrington brings the topic of holiness into our modern world. how can we be holy in this day and age and how can we develop holy habits? these are just a few of the topics that harrington addresses. she authentically shares her own stories, biblical insights and offers practical steps in choosing to embrace holiness. the lesson i walked away with is that faith and holiness are an intentional choice. meet harrington at

joey: how a blind rescue horse helped others learn to see by jennifer marshall bleakley is a story of hope and healing. a rescue group found joey nearly dead from starvation and blind after moving from one owner to the next. he was brought to hope reins - a ranch dedicating to helping hurting children who had been abused, emotionally wounded or unwanted. i love how the staff at hope reins teaches children that they are not forgotten by God! author and grief counselor jennifer bleakley writes stories of hope. visit her online at

in keep christ-ianity weird: embracing the discipline of being different by michael frost, followers of Jesus are challenged to live out romans 12:2. frost shares stories and examples from scripture to demonstrate how followers of Jesus live their faith in the midst of the changing culture. you'll get a better understanding of what paul meant when he said "be transformed by the renewing of our mind" in romans 12. i love the prayer at the end of this book (pp. 188-190)! you can read more about michael frost and his writings at

people are good: 100 true stories to restore your faith in humanity by annamarie mchargue is an encouraging book to lift you up! reading through this collection of stories will remind you that small acts of kindness can make a huge impact on your outlook! i love that these stories are shared by people from all walks of life in different states. learn more by visiting

restore: break out of your past and into God's future by vince antonucci is an insightful book (while being hilarious!) that is written honestly and boldly. i have to confess that i loved reading his "top ten" lists that are scattered throughout the book! if you're feeling "stuck"and want to get past it, apply these principles from scripture that antonucci shares here and learn how you can overcome setbacks. you'll find scripture, principles to apply, stories and examples of people living today who have broken free from the hurt of their past. find out more about vince antonucci at!

seeking a familiar face: the transformational journey of connecting with God by may patterson was actually birthed from a Bible study she wrote about "seeking God." i learned that the bible includes over 50 references to "seeking God." in this book, you will find practical ideas for seeking God, a "seek and find" section in every chapter which you can use for guided journaling ideas or questions with a small group and much more. i like how patterson chooses 10 biblical characters (like king josiah, moses, mary of bethany and others) with engaging fictionalized narratives to demonstrate the impact of seeking God in their lives. visit may patterson on her blog at

shaped notes: how ordinary people with extraordinary gifts influenced my life and career by larnelle harris with christine schaub is a great read on one of my favorite artists whom i used to play on my afternoon radio show! i love reading the back story of influential people! this is a feel good read about a young boy who overcame his background to become one of the most award-winning and amazing tenor voice of all times. be inspired and check out

suddenly single: rebuilding your life after divorce by kathryn batey is a helpful resource to help men and women in this new season of life. i like that you can also find companion resources such as suddenly single journal: processing your first year after divorce and a suddenly single workbook: building your future after divorce by batey, too. batey has been there once, twenty-one years ago and  her compassion and care come through her writing. she gives advice on determining boundaries and getting a healthy mind-set, she helps readers in thinking through their thought process and she shows readers how to find hope and find support. Batey covers issues from dealing with anger, forming your network of experts, how your past affects you, decisions about the children to courage for the journey.

talking about God: honest conversations about spirituality by steve & cheri saccone demonstrates how spiritual conversations can impact one's faith journey. in this one, you'll find stories where you'll get to peek in and eavesdrop on conversations that draw people to Christ. saccone share their observations about these conversations and remind us that the results can only be left to God.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

january - february 2018

note from me:

hello & happy 2018, dear reading friend!!!

where has all the time gone?!? i started writing before midnight but by the time i'm ready to post this blog, it will officially be march 1! i started subbing regularly at my son's school since the beginning of the school year and boy, has my life ever changed! some of the children have definitely stolen my heart while others have stolen... my sanity! life will never be the same again!!! i will say that trying to keep up with regular life stuff has been more challenging but thank God for his faithfulness and mercies---they are new every morning (lamentations 3:22-23).

how are things with you? i can't wait for you to check out my five star reviews today and i hope you will find some things to read that really resonate with you!!! as always, thank you for sharing this resource with the women in your life!!! let me know how i can pray for you, okay? you can always email me with your prayer requests or comments at

as you go about your day, remember that God created you for a purpose. you are loved and you are enough.

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


inspirational regency romance author carolyn miller has done it again. you'll love her latest, the dishonorable miss delancey: a legacy of grace, book 3 in her regency brides series where the story begins on a dark and stormy night! it's 1815 and captain benjamin richmond kemsley is intrigued by the mystery lady he encountered at the edge of the clifftop. he's recovering from a heroic act while at sea and his lovely family is protective of him during his stay. meanwhile, the honorable miss clara delancey is trying to redeem herself from the scandal that caused her to flee london. her mother desperately wants her to marry for money and endlessly searches for opportunities to showcase her talent. clara never expected to fall for a man after enduring the scandal in london but her father rejects him on account of his lack of title and funds. so very jane austen, right?!? to find out more about carolyn miller's next regency romance, visit her at and her love for regency romance!

reading the passion story through the eyes of marcus longinus, the centurion posted in jerusalem to keep order during the passover is both enthralling and riveting. this day to day account of the days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection is worth reading aloud with your family. in the soldier who killed a king: a true retelling of the passion, author david kitz takes us on a journey to the most life-changing day in history. experience the story of passion week through fresh eyes and a new perspective with your family. kitz is a Bible dramatist and outreach minister. you can learn more about his ministry at

last march/april, i reviewed a trail of crumbs and today, i'm happy to share the latest one in the pearl spence novels, a song of home: a novel of the swing era by susie finkbeiner! as you may remember, so much has happened in pearl's life. she's still surviving the loss of her dear sister beanie, meemaw, her home and the loss of her mother when she left the family. pearl's life is finally settling down and another year has passed. she's gotten into a routine of her "new" normal when her world is turned upside down again. i love the way finkbeiner takes you inside the head of pearl as she grows up and processes the world around her in her own way! if you haven't read the first two pearl spence novels, i highly recommend that you do! while you're online, be sure to check out susie's blog at

it was a series of events that caused ruby handley freeman to make the decision to finally pursue forgiveness and face a secret she's kept hidden for over seventy years. in under a cloudless sky by chris fabry, you'll find a charming southern story set in the thriving mining town of beulah mountain, west virginia. total opposites and best friends ruby handley freeman and beatrice "bean" dingess met in 1933 and did everything together. well almost everything. they were like sisters and loved each other fiercely but the events of what became known as the "beulah mountain massacre" really took the love they had for each other to the highest level possible. look for this unforgettable story in a bookstore near you!!! i'm a huge fan of chris so if you want to know more about him, check out

the bodies of young girls are found and it's up to special agent garrett addison and special agent jordan lambert to figure out the clues that are left behind. it's like a game of chess and the team must determine every strategic move of the notorious angel abductor. in this fast-paced thriller, vanishing point by lisa harris will have you on the edge of your seat. this one reads like an episode in tv shows like criminal minds or ncis only better because there's always hope and faith involved with the lead characters... and possibly a little romance along with a cliff hanger ending! to find out more about lisa harris, go to

samantha winters never expected to see nick chastain again. he was a risk taker and she lived her life avoiding risks. but opposites attract, right?!? the last time they were together, they both exchanged heated words which resulted in the end of their relationship. since then, samantha has wanted to make amends but nick never responded to her emails or call. nick has regrets, too, and he's carrying a life-changing secret that is hard for him to talk about. in you're going to love me by robin lee hatcher, you'll find a beautiful story of reconciliation and second chances.  i've been a huge robin lee hatcher fan and have always enjoyed our interviews! i know you'll enjoy learning more about her and her books at so visit her website!


devotions for the hungry heart: chasing Jesus six days from sunday by shellie rushing tomlinson (the "belle of all things southern") is a beautiful book that's full of bite sized devotionals and Scripture along with warm-hearted stories, pictures and yummy recipes!!! oh my stars, you're going to love this devotional!!! tomlinson shares stories with warm-hearted humor and reading her writing is like having a conversation with her. check out her website at

messiah in the passover is a passover reference book edited by darrell l. bock and mitch glaser (president of chosen people ministries). this book is for anyone interested in the jewish roots of the christian faith. you'll find jewish and church history, passover references from the torah to the Lord's supper. i really like chapter 13 "the gospel in the passover seder" where the significance of the passover ceremony is carefully explained in detail.  you can learn how to celebrate the passover in your home (chap 16) and even find recipes for passover foods (chap 19)! the last thing i love about this resource is that it will help equip you if you're trying to share Jesus with your jewish friends.  you can find additional resources and instructional videos at

the read-aloud family: making meaningful and lasting connections with your kids by sarah mackenzie is a resource that is going to be your best friend in this age of technology where moms and dads are losing their children to smart phones, ipads, tablets and more! mackenzie shares her story and shares expert advise from top shelf educators about the importance of growing creative thinkers and problem solvers and more. Some more benefits of reading include nurturing empathy and compassion, the ability to make connections, increasing vocabulary and more through reading together, etc. stories expand our horizon and as a lover of words, i can vouch that sharing my love for reading has touched both of my children immensely! if you're worried you don't have time to read an entire book yourself, then check this resource out for age appropriate reading lists for your children (from "infancy through adolescence" by mackenzie). encourage the family to lay off their devices and read aloud while doing laundry, drawing or something else! it's worth it!!! check out mackenzie's blog at


the perfect gift book for your little one is here!!! with love from me to you is written by award-winning author and one of america's "top parenting pros" mary manz simon. this adorable board book with rhyming text and sweet age appropriate illustrations (i love all the animals!!!) teaches children about showing love and kindness by their actions and not just with their words. i love the message that love is more than flowers and candy---a message all grownups can be reminded about, too! dr. mary manz simon weaves the message of God's love inside us lets us love others when we show kindness, extend forgiveness and more. this message isn't just for our little ones so feel free to gift this book to any friend big or small!!! to learn more about award-winning author mary, manz simon and her other resources, visit her at

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

july - august - september - october 2017

note from me:
happy fall, dear reading friend!!!

this is my favorite season to begin baking all those yummy apple desserts like my apple cider cookies, apple crumble, etc.!

i'm so sorry it's been more than a few months since i last posted my reviews. we found out at the end of august that we may be moving so we went into "crazy packing" mode. then earlier this month, we found out that the move will be delayed because of circumstances i can't get into at this moment. sooooooooo, i've taken a break from packing and here are all my five star reviews since july!!!

thank you for your patience!!! i hope you get as much joy discovering new stories as i have in sharing them!!!

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


the writing of jane kirkpatrick never fails to move me in the deepest places of my heart. i love her latest character, "Jennie" Lichtenthaler Pickett. she struggles with reading and writing and sometimes, she misses the meanings of glances or subtle words but the thoughts she voices are extraordinarily perceptive and insightful. i wish i had kept a journal on all the gems of wisdom i never fail to find in each one of jane's writings! all she left behind is a story inspired by a real person from history (be sure to read the details about it on page 321). i admire her courage, her compassionate heart and the difference she made with her passion for homeopathic healing. eventually, jennie overcomes many hurdles and specializes in diseases for women and children with her medical training in "regular" medicine. she suffered a great loss, abuse, divorce and debt, and yet, she wasn't beaten down by them. she even gets a second chance at love!!! you will definitely be inspired by this women's life!!!

lady charlotte featherington wants to marry someone young, exciting, handsome and brave, but most of all, she wants to marry for love like her cousin lavinia stamford. her mother; however, only has her sights set on those with titles. like the duke of hartington. a titled man recently widowed and is neither young nor handsome in lady charlotte's mind and eye! someone else has captured her heart and anyone else her parents have in mind cannot possibly compare. but unbeknownst to lady charlotte, she has captured the heart of the ninth duke of hartington and he is looking for someone whose heart belongs to him solely. the captivating lady charlotte by carolyn miller is a must read for fans of wholesome regency romances! this is book two in her series regency brides: a legacy of grace where miller captures the vivid architectural and clothing details along with the pretentious personalities of 1814 london.

it's 1944 and war is on the horizon. amelia richards falls hopelessly in love with a navy man and in a whirlwind romance, she becomes engaged. when james bradley's leave is cut short because his aircraft carrier was shipping out, amelia makes a decision that changes the course of her life. months later, she receives news that devastates her and amelia finds herself broke, jobless and mother of a sick baby boy. now there's only one thing she can do --- she has to find her infant's paternal grandparents. the christmas blessing by melody carlson is a beautiful story about the power of hope and reconciliation.

girls from the same sorority are dying under mysterious circumstances and it's up to branigan powers and her homeless and resourceful friend malachi to connect the dots before anyone else dies. i love malachi! he's one of my favorite characters because he understands human nature and their view of the homeless and he uses that to his advantage in uncovering clues and obtaining the evidence that branigan and the police need!!! the cover story by deb richardson-moore is another a branigan powers mystery that you are going to love. richardson-moore's journalist background and her work with the homeless gives us a clearer understanding and awareness of their issues and needs.

the heart-pounding conclusion to the alliance is found in the divide by jolina petersheim where an old mennonite community flees to the mountains for refuge when their world is attacked and dispersed. leora ebersole and her community have been hiding out now for six months and the ongoing issues that come with hunger, fear, sickness and death are taking a toll on everyone. leora and her beliefs are put to the test when she struggles between faith issues, love and making a decision to take action.  news still hasn't come of the young englischer pilot who has stolen her heart (from book 1, the alliance) and leora must choose between love and the new bishop who needs her.

if you're a fan of psychological thrillers, then you're going to love fault lines!!! thomas locke (pseudonym for award-winning novelist davis bunn) takes readers to the edge of reality where out of the body experiences happen in controlled environments. charlie hazard is in the risk containment business and never dreams he would experience this first hand when gabriella and her team of researchers and scientists bring him into their research facility. but the team is in danger and it will be up to charlie and his team to stay ahead of the enemy. dramatic twists with lots of danger and suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat as charlie and his team must protect his clients at all cost.

freedom's price by christine johnson is book 3 in the keys of promise series set in 1856 off the bahama banks. englishwoman catherine haynes has lost her mother and now she's lost her father. her cousin has taken over the estate and catherine refuses to marry the man he has chosen for her. instead, she makes the drastic decision to the america's and meet her mother's family on their plantation. her mother was estranged from her family but she often told catherine about her fond memories of her home there. when catherine arrives in louisiana after many delays, she's shocked to find her mother's plantation, black oak run by the plantation manager and a few servants with no family anywhere. something sinister is going on and catherine's life may be in danger as she is determined to regain ownership of her family's home. she will encounter deception, cruelty, loss and love and eventually redemption at a high price.

pecan orchards and fishing in the waters of mobile bay are where anniston (anni) harlan finds relief but her grandmother, princella is all about society's rigid rules, appearances and expectations. princella has spent a lifetime of building her reputation and she will hold on to her rules and southern values at all costs. in how sweet the sound by amy k. sorrells (i love her stories!!!), you'll see how the course of anni's life drastically takes a turn when her daddy is killed. this coming of age story has multi layers of family secrets, tragedies and cover up. it also has all the elements that i love---friendship and hope, redemption,healing and second chances. inspired by the biblical story of tamar from 2 samuel 13, this southern tale offers hope and healing to abuse survivors (note: october is domestic violence awareness month) and shows true freedom from captivity through the grace and mercy of God.

all her life, lane kelley has always felt alone---alone from her peers and even from her own family. she graduated from high school and left for college in chicago without ever looking back while carving a great design career for herself. just look up by courtney walsh is for all of us who remembers what it's like to not fit in with our peers. this one is for all the girls who outgrew their awkward stages and have managed to thrive on the outside while never dealing with the hurt, pain and rejection on the inside i love how this story ends with the sentence, "and she vowed to never again miss what was right in front of her." read this one with a box of kleenexes nearby because i guarantee lane's story will resonate with you deeply and touch your heart. and your tear ducts.

aurélie harcourt doesn't belong in the world she's been thrusted in and she's also harboring a secret that has caused angst among her extended family. author joanna davidson politano has written a mystery that is both engaging and captivating in lady jane disappears! there are fascinating quotes from mystery author nathaniel droll in every chapter and the intriguing history (and secrets of the south tower) of lyndhurst manor will have you wanting more!!! an added bonus at the end is a sneak peak at joanna's new book coming your way summer 2018 (not sure i can wait that long!!!). happy reading!!!

lochiel ogle is a legend. known as "the devil's daughter" because of a red-wine birthmark reaching from her cheek to the neck, lochiel is no stranger to pain, fear and suffering. but everything changes when she's rescued from a beating (that nearly leaves her for dead) by a man who isn't afraid of her. when lochiel is shown kindness by walton and his mother edna and introduced to the power of God's love, she learns a secret that shakes her world completely upside down. liar's winter: an appalachian novel is written from the heart of cindy k. sproles and is a hauntingly beautiful story of redemption.

loving luther is the story of katharina von bora, wife of martin luther by allison pittman. set in germany, 1505, little six-year old katharina must bravely learn to get used to her new home, the convent at brehna. this fascinating story follows her as she grows up, takes her vows and then comes across the writing of martin luther, an excommunicated priest. katherina's heart is stirred up as she reads pages from the freedom of a christian which lists verses from ephesians 2:8-9 and others. eventually, katharina and eleven other sisters bravely escape from the convent! witnessing how their lives unfold as they learn to survive outside the convent walls is a fascinating read!

former champion backcountry snowboarder and celebrity gage watson is about to return to the most dangerous and risky run with the woman who singlehandedly ruined his career. he's left the limelight and now serves on the peak rescue team and right now, a kid and his friend are trying to follow in his footsteps on a run that he barely survived. a matter of trust by susan may warren is book 3 in the montana rescue series where danger lurks around every corner! ella feels responsible for her brother and she regrets her part in dismantling gage's career. she risks everything if she reveals the truth and she knows she doesn't have the right to ask for his help but he's the only one who can find her reckless brother...

on love's gentle shore allows us to follow natalie o'ryan as she returns to prince edward island with a little bit of fear in facing her past and a lot of bitterness and anger against her best friend who abandoned her. this is liz johnson's third book in her series, prince edward island dreams and i love everyone so far!!! natalie has to face the ghosts of her past and forgive the man who never protected her and selfishly kept her from people who loved her and wanted her. she comes to the realization that "doing the next right thing" will keep her from making the biggest mistake of her life.

isabella bartholomew is doing everything she can to save her family plantation breeze hill but she needs help. hiring connor o'shea to help manage the plantation and rebuild the sections of their home that have been destroyed by a fire is the perfect solution. but suspicious things have been happening and someone is out to eliminate the bartholomew family. while isabella is considering accepting her wealthy neighbor's proposal of marriage to save her family's plantation, it's up to connor to figure things out and keep isabella and her family safe while setting his feelings aside. the promise of breeze hill by pam hillman takes you back in time to 1791 along the natchez trace where secrets, family history and romance come together.

if you're looking for a fast-paced and heart-pounding sci-fi adventure, then look no farther than thomas locke's latest, renegades. it's book two in the recruits series (we reviewed book 1 here) and things begin with landon evans. he was saying farewell when suddenly, three people appear out of nowhere...
meanwhile, twins sean and dillon find out that the son of senator evans has been kidnapped. will their transit abilities help them? only if they manage not to get arrested and imprisoned...! this is an epic adventure with beasts (that resemble giant moray eels), a dragon, a young soldier whose fate is tied with the twins and more!

i just read the funniest story ever (!!!) by a first-time novelist bethany turner. i love that she is committed to writing stories that deal with the "thorny realities of living the christian life." note: i took that quote right off the back cover so pardon my lack of originality! so. can i just say how much i love her debut novel, the secret life of sarah hollenbeck??!? i love sarah (especially the way her mouth always takes off like a runaway train whenever she's around ben delaney) and i super love her always-tell-the-truth-in-love friend, piper!!! sarah's a famous author who writes steamy novels that puts the "b" in blush. but then she meets Jesus. and ben. yes, in that order. the chemistry between them (sarah & ben) in that one chance encounter is beyond anything she's ever experienced and that's a problem because ben is... okay, i'm stopping here because you really need to go get your own copy of this book. seriously. you are going to find plenty of insight and humor as you read a story that bluntly dishes up faith, divorce, single parenting, second chances, betrayal, church scandal and hope (try staying that sentence really fast now)! i can't wait to share my reviews for novel #2!!!

nurse francine howard arrives in leslie county, kentucky. she's training to be a midwife under the direction of the frontier nursing service while nursing a broken heart. the people in the appalachian mountains need her services and francine is ready for an adventure. although she feels like a fish out of water at first, she gradually learns to love the people and respect their ways. she also quickly learns that being with the frontier nursing service means she has to learn how to milk a cow, grow a sass patch and learn to navigate mountain trails while being directionally impaired (i can so relate!!!)! francine is spunky yet gentle, caring and courageous. i love her and i love the character granny em! there's some unexpected adventure, romance and lots of new possibilities for francine in these healing hills by ann h. gabhart. be sure to check out the interesting readers' note on the frontier nursing service beginning on page 357!

fans of heart-pounding suspense and thrillers will love glenn meade's latest in unquiet ghosts! kathy kelley is trying to rebuild her life after a horrific accident that took the life of her husband and her two young children. she eventually remarries and becomes a stepmother to a sweet daughter who was close friends with her own daughter but eventually, the marriage disintegrates even though they parted on good terms. as she searches for answers, she begins to uncover information that will change the way she sees everyone closest to her. kathy has to change her perceptions and figure out a way to survive the betrayal and pain from the past 8 years of her life. although i scare myself over thrillers that are intense and suspenseful, mead's writing has a way of drawing me in from start to finish!


the life-giving table: nurturing faith through feasting, one meal at a time by sally clarkson promotes the importance of connecting deeply with family and friends around the table. sally is an amazing hostess and i would love to meet her in person!!! sally shares her own stories (she's lived everywhere!), delicious sounding favorite recipes that she uses with her family and friends along with practical ideas to help us grow closer to the people we love as we grow in our faith together. this one is definitely a keeper!

shalom sisters: living wholeheartedly in a brokenhearted world by o'shea moore gives you a glimpse of a women who appreciates sassy and humor while dishing out plenty of stories, observations and practical insights for women longing to make a difference as peacemakers. moore writes with incredible vulnerability and transparency (i love the story of the time she broke the unspoken carpool lane law and what happens after in chapter 10!!!) and if you can't get enough of her writing, then check out her podcasts or blog.

Friday, June 30, 2017

may - june 2017

note from me:

dear reading friend,

happy summer! how has your summer been going? i injured my knee earlier this summer and it has forced me to slow down considerably... which has been hard, i admit! so my favorite son and i have been catching up on shows like fixer upper and the food network channel while i keep my leg elevated and iced!

i'm so excited to share my five star reads with you!!! if you're going out of town, heading to the beach or somewhere else fun, don't forget to grab a book or two (!) and share what you read with a friend or a family member!!!

while you're in between reading, remember to "let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see you good deeds and moral excellence and [honor and recognize and] glorify your Father who is in heaven." matthew 5:16 the amplified bible

let me know how you're letting your light shine by emailing me at! i love hearing from you!!! and thank you for sharing this blog site with all the women in your life :o)

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


alabaster: what is most precious is also most fragile by chris aslan is a novelized narrative to a familiar bible story. this story is gripping and written in a manner that tugs on your heartstrings.  i love what all the women in the village tell their daughters: "a woman's honor is as fragile and as beautiful as a butterfly's wings. what is a butterfly without wings, except a worm? remember this. guard your reputation, for it is more precious even than a husband or sons." This is a short and easy-to-finish book, but the content is thought-provoking, powerful and is a mesmerizing read.

bread of angels is a fictionalized story of lydia in the bible, the seller of purple and a convert of the apostle paul by tessa afshar. i love how afshar takes her readers back in time (ad 25, to be exact) and weaves a story of a young girl who must help her father in his dye business. she alone holds her father's secret recipes to the rich purple dyes that make any material vibrant with color. after a tragedy in her young life, lydia often lives with fear, uncertainty and a lack of confidence in her skills.  when a series of horrific events unfold, lydia must flee her beloved hometown and find a way to make it on her own in a culture that looks down on unmarried women. all along the way, you will see God's hand on her life and eventually, she will see it, too! this is an addictive and engaging read, so clear your schedule and plan on getting to know lydia, seller of purple.

love story continues the baxter family collection by karen kingsbury. if you haven't already fallen in love with the baxter family, then this one will definitely win you over!!! karen's characters are flawed and very much human, but the grace of God is so evident in their story. john baxter is interviewed by his grandson for a heritage project and this means he must go back to that place in his heart and mind when he first fell in love with elizabeth. their love story of nearly thirty years is not without painful memories and heartache but it's also one of commitment, love and faith. it's almost like a prequel to the baxter family series if you've been following them like i have been through the years. i like the powerful reminder of how we're impacted by family and by love.

what hope remembers is all about second chances. as the third book in the misty willow series, amy somers has burned her bridges but the life of luxury is what she misses most from her old life. gabe kendall was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he paid the price for it. after serving his prison sentence, he goes to misty willow and helps out his aunt tess who doesn't tell him that it's more than she can handle financially. there's an offer from a developer and when Tess changes her mind, that's when the trouble begins. If you love a little romance and some mystery, then this one is definitely calling your name!

naomi's hope is the third and final installment of jan drexler's journey to pleasant prairie series. naomi schrock is settling into her indiana amish community in 1846 with her adoptive son, davey. widower cap stolzfus moves in nearby and becomes a friend to davey. when a troublemaker from his past shows up as a minister, cap struggles with forgiveness. then a family shows up to the settlement claiming that davey is the nephew of their now deceased sister and brother-in-law. when davey follow his "real family," naomi's heart is broken to pieces. naomi must learn to trust God and cap must learn to leave things in God's hands.

runaway, the is a debut novel from claire wong. rhiannon lives in a small welsh village and after an angry exchange of words with her aunt, she makes good on her threat to run away. she makes her way into dyrys wood and must figure out a way to survive. alone. her disappearance causes a rippling effect among her community and a dark story comes to light that has been woven in stories by the village story teller, maebh. when two tourists come to town in search of some answers, rhiannon has no idea of the difference they will make in her life. together, they may have a part in keeping history from repeating itself. this is a breathtakingly beautiful story about community and the power of forgiveness.

melody carlson invites readers to the historic city of savannah in her latest, under a summer sky: a savannah romance, book 3 in her series, follow your heart. nicole anderson has been feeling stuck and her mother knows it. mom decides to take matters into her own hands and before nicole has time to process things, she is sent off to manage a friend of the family's art gallery in savannah! feeling highly unqualified, nicole has to navigate through angry employee issues in the gallery, parenting issues and being caught between two brothers and their ongoing sibling rivalry conflict! it's not exactly the quiet summer of painting she anticipated. but at last she's unstuck finally! you're going to love this feel good and heartwarming story!!! and thanks to melody, travel and tourism to savannah has just increased by 100%!!!

trusting grace by maggie brendan wraps up the series, virtues and vices of the old west. in this story, brendan takes readers back in time to 1866 in montana territory. grace bidwell is a young childless widow who is trying to maintain her late husband's farm while taking care of her father who has suffered from a stroke. grace loves children and is outraged when she discovers three young siblings camping out on her land with no adult nearby. meanwhile, her best friend is trying to set her up with her husband's new partner in his law firm. will grace choose a life of leisure or take a risk with the father of the three young children? you'll have to read this one and find out the outcome!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

march - april 2017

a note from me:

happy spring, dear reading friend!!!

we had an incredibly mild winter, beautiful warm temps here and there and lots of rain. and rain. and more rain. this is never good news for our basement and we are so over the experience of water removal with all the mini floods we've been having. i am trying to remain thankful because pouring rain means a continuously washed car and we haven't experience 5.5 feet of water in our basement again... yet! i'm thankful that the rain will keep all the beautiful flowers, trees and gardens watered and the allergens subdued for a while! i'm thankful that God's faithfulness is something we can depend on and it's new every morning (lamentations 3:22-23)! so, what are you thankful for?

i am really excited about sharing these five star reads with you---thank you for reading and sharing my blog site with your friends and family!!! i'll close with one of my favorite bible verses from psalm 36:5... "your unfailing love, o Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds."

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


sandpiper cove is all about second chances in this third installment of the series, a hope harbor novel by irene hannon. i love this story that's set in a charming little seaside village with a host of warm-hearted characters that reside there like father murphy, charley, bj and reverend baker. it's a town where an ex-con like adam stone and a mother and son duo, brenda and brian hope to find a fresh start. hope harbor police chief lexie graham is focused on keeping her hometown safe and being a good mom to her little boy so she's caught off guard when sparks begin to fly between her and someone who is her polar opposite! this story of faith, love and second chances will definitely warm your heart!!!

still life is the second book in the series, chesapeake valor by dani pettrey. as always, pettrey delivers a gripping story that is full of life-threatening danger, suspense and twists and turns that will have you on. the. edge. of. your. seat. when i read, i get so absorbed in the story that it becomes my reality until the phone chimes or someone in my family tries to get my attention! and it's probably why i don't like to read suspense and mystery books before going to bed! but pettrey's writing has a way of drawing you in (against my will!!!) that makes you want to stay up through the night to race against time with crime-scene photographer avery tate and her former partner, crime-scene analyst parker mitchell. a replaced masterpiece in a black dahlia-inspired photography exhibition and a missing model are just the tip of the iceberg in this mystery. the last three paragraphs on page 341 are highly disturbing and that can only mean that there's more life-threatening danger ahead. stay posted for the review of book three that's due in october 2017!!!

stolen heart, a takes you back in time to 1880 to texas hill country and this is the first book in a new series called the cimarron creek trilogy by amanda cabot. fans of cabot's texas dreams trilogy will get to see what happened to some of those characters from that series and meet a whole new group of people in here! by all appearances, cimarron creek seems like an idyllic town to former school teacher lydia crawford but the resentment of northerners comes across loud and clear. but lydia is on a mission and she intends to find her fiancee edgar ellis who is somewhere in this little town. but lydia gets the shock of her life when she finds out edgar is missing. and that's not the only thing. get ready to fall in love with this town and especially with Aunt Bertha (she's the best!!!)!!!

trail of crumbs, a: a novel of the great depression is a story of hope in the midst of devastation by susie finkbeiner. this is book two in the pearl spence novels series (a cup of dust was reviewed in an earlier blog entry) and the more i hear pearl's strong young voice, the more i absolutely love this kid! pearl is a ten-year-old living in oklahoma in 1935. she's smart, fearless, inquisitive and fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. she's gone through more in her ten years than the average person and what hurts the most is the lost of her meemaw (book 1). but pearl knows that things are not always easy in life so she clings on to her faith and the memories of the lessons she's learned from her meemaw. and she'll need everything she's learned because the tragedy that occurs in chapter two is just the beginning of things to come for the spence family. since reading a cup of dust, susie finkbeiner has quickly become one of my favorite authors and i can't wait to review book 3 for you!!!

when tides turn by sarah sundin captures the patriotism of women serving during world war II. this third installment finishes the series, waves of freedom and you'll get to follow glamour girl quintessa (tess) beaumont in her journey with the navy through the waves program. tess longs to be seen for more than just a pretty face. she wants to make a difference and maybe even capture the respect and the eye of a certain man who thinks the navy is no place for a woman... with a princess name.  you're going to love tess!!! she's beautiful, spunky, sparkly and determined!!! and she's the only one who can coax a smile out lt. dan avery and maybe even change his mind about romance interfering with his naval goals. this story is a blend of friendship, romance, intense battle scenes and intrigue that i know you'll love!!!

you'll think of me is the newest release from robin lee hatcher that includes a personal real-life issue she shares with the main character brooklyn myers. this is a moving story of a women's return to her hometown where most of her memories hold only heartache and abandonment. unusual circumstances bring her back home with her ten-year-old daughter and brooklyn has her work cut out for her. her next door neighbor blames her for ruining his plans for expanding his business, her father wants nothing to do with her, the house she inherited is a mess and she desperately needs a job. what's a girl to do? brooklyn knows that she is not the same person she was a decade ago and has to depend on her faith to get through her challenges. don't miss the note from robin, the discussion questions (perfect for your reading group) and the excerpt from a paper she wrote years ago about this real-life crisis in our society. robin always writes from her heart and i know you're going to love this one as much as i did!!!

youth fiction:

good news, friends! the trailblazer books (action-packed adventure novels where christian heroes are introduced) by dave and neta jackson are back in print!!! there are 40 books in the series so think ahead about summer reading! i remember my daughter reading this series when she was younger and i'm excited that a whole new generation of children will get acquainted with these christian greats from history. thank you, dave and neta!!! another thing i love about this versatile series is that there are eight free curriculum guides available for any home educator interested in building lesson plans.  you can order your books directly from


overcomer: breaking down the walls of shame and rebuilding your soul is a must read book by aubrey sampson which help women dismantle seven lies shame tells women. sampson shares some painful memories and takes you on a journey with her toward healing and restoration.  sampson is authentic, vulnerable (so inspiring!) and hilariously funny (check out her "an open letter to the latest media darling who lost all her baby weight at warp speed on pp.44-45!)! i like the practical tools (the chart on pg. 65 is powerful!) along with the biblical truth she teaches. there are incredible quotes, discussion questions after every chapter, a prayer and an inspirational story which makes this a great candidate for your next book club or women's bible study!

spoonful of grace, a: mealtime blessings in bite-sized pieces by annette hubbell is a collection of 366 scripture, prayers and a discussion starter called "grace notes" that will add to your family's prayer life and give you something to talk about during mealtime. each one takes about two-minutes to read through (no one is going to starve to death during the reading) and i love that it works for any age. there are topics such as holidays, birthdays, etc. i absolutely love the idea that the grace notes section will allow you to launch a discussion from that segment covering topics such as ways to be kind to difficult people in your life, expecting great things from God, etc. this is a one-of-a-kind book that will definitely make family time more meaningful!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

january - february 2017

a note from me:

oh my stars, reading friend!!!

i am beyond excited to share my five star picks with you!!! you'll find reviews on engaging fiction, exciting options for youth and young adult fiction, some must read non-fiction (yes, check out my two favorites i've reviewed!!!) and a relevant family-friendly resource for parents of toddlers by dr. mary manz simon!!!

thank you for all your feedback and support you've given me. i really appreciate it when you "share" my fb page and tell your friends about this blog site.

my skin and allergies have been sensitive to all the weather changes we've been experiencing lately. how about you?!? i'm reminded that seasons (& the weather!!!) will always change, but God's love and faithfulness always remain constant. i want to share a favorite verse (one of many!) from psalm 36:5 "your unfailing love, o Lord, is as vast as the heavens' your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Be encouraged, friend!!!

happy reading!!!

blessings & love,

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


elusive miss ellison, the is the regency romance debut novel by carolyn miller from her regency brides: a legacy of grace series. having just watched pride & prejudice (with kiera knightley), i was ready to be transported to regency england! lavinia ellison is the daughter of the minister and she's intelligent, opinionated and always ready to speak her mind! lavinia's heart for the poor and needy clashes with the new earl of hawkesbury and his indifference toward those suffering in the village. she takes every opportunity to remind him his responsibilities and their witty and spirited exchanges are quite comical! this charming story will leave you enchanted and wanting more from miller!!!

justice delayed is a memphis cold case novel by patricia bradley where romance, danger and suspense coincide. i love anything by patricia bradley!!! andi hollister's sister was murdered eighteen years ago and the confessed killer's execution date is approaching. but a letter surfaces and the content is disturbing. detective will kincaide is committed to helping andi find justice because the case has taken a personal twist and turn. there's a missing diamond mystery and murdered people begin to pile up... see if you can crack this case before will and andi do!

lady in disguise, a by sandra byrd is the third and final installment of the series, daughters of hampshire coming your way in march! as a new heiress, gillian young remembers her father as kind and well-repected member of the police force; however, her father's colleagues are hinting that her father may have had a role in something illegal. gillian is determined to get to the bottom of things and clear her father's name, but someone is trying to stop her. gillian must figure out who she can trust and who is betraying her confidence before time runs out. as you read this intriguing romance and mystery novel set in victorian england, you will love gillian's courage and heart of compassion! this novel sheds light on exploited children and child trafficking in 1883.

moon bow night by laura frantz is a richly detailed historical novel that takes you into the kentucke wilderness in 1777. temperance grace (tempe for short) loves the wonders of nature. she knows the ridges, the meadows and the hollows by heart. she can outshoot any man, find any trail and move from place to place undetected in the forest. but tempe is harboring a family secret and the one man she holds in her heart and trusts was killed in a raid. when circumstances force her to be the hired guide for a virginian surveyor, tempe must learn to work with sion morgan and trust him in order to survive the wilderness with their scalps intact. frantz paints vivid and stunning pictures with her words as she draws you into the heart of kentucky.

newcomer, the by suzanne woods fisher is book 2 in the historical amish series where anna konig's journey continues after the ten weeks at sea. a brand new start on the pennsylvania frontier is exactly what anna and bairn bauer need after finding out that he was the bishop's son who was abducted when he was a child. bairn feels the call of the sea in his heart and after numerous clashes with his bishop father who seems to refuse to acknowledge his stolen youth, he takes a job on a ship for a few months. henrik newman joins the church and helps the church members get to their new land. when the bishop and his wife are nowhere to be found since they had left for the property ahead of time, it's up to henrik to help the church members figure out what to do. he's got his eye on anna even though her heart belongs to bairn, but things soon change when news comes that bairn's ship went up in flames and no one survived. in this one, true love is put to the final test and you'll never expect the twists that happens in the end!

redeeming grace: ruth's story is the third book in the daughters of the promise land series by jill eileen smith. smith weaves historical detail and imagination in her stories transporting you back to the times of the old testament where you get a sneak peak into the lives of the women there. you will adore boaz and adi, feel for naomi when she has to move from her beloved hometown and admire ruth for her resilience. this is a story of redemption, hope and the power of love that will draw you in from the moment you begin reading!

rescue me follows wild montana skies which was book one of the montana rescue series by susan may warren. as always, warren delivers danger and adventure in this one! deputy sam brooks and his brother pete do not see eye to eye. in fact, they're usually staying out of each other's ways with anger, bitterness and a whole lot of history at the root of their relationship. sierra rose is the perfect girl for him but it's willow, her sister who seems to touch his heart. pete wants to apply for the incident commander's job but all sam can see is his brother's lack of responsibility. when willow and sam and the new youth pastor take some kids on a hike, things quickly go south when the winter weather rapidly changes and they're suddenly in need of shelter and aid after a horrific accident. it's going to be up to pete to save his brother and the rest of the group. this one was an amazing read!!!

young adult & youth fiction:

prince warriors and the swords of rhema, the is the epic conclusion of this best-selling series, the prince warriors by priscilla shirer with gina detwiler. the chapter opens with a race that quickly turns into something else when a dark circle appears in the water. join finn and the other prince and princesses as they learn the secret power of resistance and begin their journey to receive their swords. Readers are going to love the adventure, friendship, danger and intrigue that is trademark in this series that teaches tweens and adults about spiritual warfare and its consequences. this series also has a 365 devotional (unseen was reviewed in my last blog) and the smartphone app, unseen: the prince warriors, that go along with the series. your entire family will love this series!!!

recruits by thomas locke (pseudonym for award-winning author davis bunn) is a fast-paced and engaging read that fans of science fiction and fantasy will love!!! i asked my 10-year-old (a die-hard rick riordan only fan) to check this one out and when he got to page 21, he exclaimed, "this book is as good as rick riordan's books!!! i love it and i can't stop reading it!!!" this. one. is. a. winner. twins sean and dillon kirrel have dreamed of a world beyond their own. before they turn 18, they are approached by carver and are given the opportunity to prove themselves as recruits... within a time limit. when sean takes the step of faith, he realizes that everything he sees is just as his mind has imagined as a kid with his brother. and the rest is history...!


children's ministry on purpose: a purpose-driven approach to lead kids toward spiritual health addresses five key questions that are relevant for every children's ministry written by steve adams (he's the children's pastor at saddleback church in lake forest, ca). this resource is engaging and thought-provoking and will challenge leaders on finding purpose and intentionality in their ministry.  this quote from adams really resonated with me... "a purpose driven children's ministry is an intentional and balanced discipleship process that leads kids toward spiritual health." Adams gives practical steps in leading kids, implementing change, developing a healthy team and more. he also focuses on how to get where you are going by being a leader people will follow. this is worth reading and passing on to anyone who is involved in children's ministry!!!

when God says wait: navigating life's detours & delays without losing your faith, your friends, or your mind is a well-written debut book by elizabeth laing thompson. this was one one my favorite reads on the subject of waiting on God and i think many will identify with thompson when she vulnerably shares her story of infertility. thompson is super hilarious (i totally relate to her feelings on camping!!!), witty and authentic!!! i think we would totally hit it off if we ever met in person and spent some time hanging out!!! i love that she encourages, inspires and challenges her readers using scripture, personal stories and examples in the bible. after every chapter, you will find a section on "waiting room reading" which will give you some more notes for further study along with a journal prompt and a prayer prompt. my favorite chapter was chapter 5 (when prayer becomes a battleground) and i love the faith building playlist to fight satan's lies on page 90. i think i can probably go on and on but you get the picture. this one is worth your time reading and sharing with others!!!

family-friendly resources:

first feelings: 12 stories for toddlers is another home run hit for dr. mary manz simon! i've been a huge fan of mary for years---she writes from the heart, she writes from the head (she is a parenting expert and you can read her bio at and she writes from experience as a mother and grandmother. i highly recommend you that you read the letter to parents first before you start reading to your child. you will find that this is a resource that will help your child learn "to identify his feelings and cope with them in a way that is not only socially acceptable but developmentally appropriate so they can become emotionally literate." but i love the fact that mary doesn't just stop there. she incorporates the importance of children knowing that God is always with them so they are secure and don't feel isolated when coping with feelings. she writes from a christian world view perspective so parents can empower children to know how they're feeling and how to cope with it with God's help. the trademark age-appropriate rhyming text, interactive questions and adorable illustrations will make this a "read again and again and again" favorite with your toddler!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

november - december 2016

note from me:

happy new year, dear reading friend!!!

i'm so excited to begin another year sharing my five star reads with you!!! please accept my apologies for not getting my reviews out by the last day of 2016 like i originally intended. we're still in "holiday" mode but in just a blink of the eye, work and school will resume again and we'll be back to our "new" normal routine of life soon enough! 

the beginning of 2017 marked the end of the journey for one special little girl: ava bright lee, a pint-sized warrior princess that i've been following for the past couple of years. you can read her story at and prepare to cry, be inspired, feel the raw pain and be challenged because although her journey on earth has ended, her story will live on touching gazillions of lives.

the book of james reminds us that life is a vapor. you're here one minute and gone the next. it's why we should live our lives with intention. more than ever, God is showing me the importance of abiding in him. abiding in Christ means to allow his word to fill our minds so that it directs the intentions of our hearts (our will) and transforms our desires, our behavior, our actions, our thoughts and our words to align with the heart of God. 

my faith depends on it. so does yours. i want 2017 to be all about us abiding in Christ. i'll end this note with matthew 6:33 from the amplified bible: "but first and most importantly, seek (aim at, strive after) his kingdom and his righteousness [his way of doing and being right-the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also."

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

your reading mom,


jer. 29:11


christmas angel project, the by melody carlson (i love her!!!) has four friends devastated over the loss of their group leader, abby. but abby has left them all something very specific that she made and it's up to them to discover what the gift means to them and how they can live it out as abby's angels. this is a feel good story that is both inspiring and heart-warming! melody writes from her heart and this story showcases it well.

death in the shadows by paul mccusker is a father gilbert mystery that will hold your attention captive from start to finish with this story covering the heavy topic of human sex trafficking. i love father gilbert. he's a former detective-turned-priest who ends up helping the police because of his supernatural encounters and investigative skills. he's wise, caring and relentless in his pursuit for justice.  father gilbert is attending a conference in a little seaside town when he reads a local story of a murdered asian girl who worked at a local massage parlor. and then the visions begin and soon, father gilbert is assisting scotland yard with uncovering clues that will lead them to something bigger than any of them could have imagined. this one is a winner. well done, paul!!!

cowboy christmas homecoming is a collection of four historical novellas written by mary connealy, ruth logan herne, julie lessman and anna schmidt.  i love how four heart-warming stories interweave the lives of four women who are trying to make their way in this wild country during a very cold winter. so, cozy up to the fireplace and enjoy your read with a warm cuppa!

fatal frost by nancy mehl is book 2 in the defenders of justice series. unbeknownst to her, u.s. marshal mercy brennan has something someone is desperately trying to get. at all cost. and that's why her boss and former boyfriend, deputy u.s. marshal mark st. laurent are determined to get her out of town until they can guarantee she's safe. someone's dirty in the office and neither of them are sure who they can trust except for each other. the details appear to be fool-proof until a freak ice storm has them stranded at a remote location. if you want suspense, extreme danger and heart-pounding moments, this one's for you! i love how nancy always integrates faith authentically in her stories!

fear has a name by creston mapes is book one in the series, the crittendon files which first came out in 2013 but is so worth checking out if you haven't discovered this series yet. this suspense thriller will have you on the edge of your seat and to be perfectly honest, i was only able to read this in the daytime! a missing pastor, deadly secrets and a stalker who knows too much about his family has jack crittendon on edge. while chasing down the clues for a huge story, jack will have to do everything he can to keep his family safe before the unthinkable happens. and then it does. 

guide me home by kim vogel sawyer is set in 1907 and is a stand alone novel about the hardin family who have very little materially, but make up for it in love. rebekah wants to find a job at kentucky's renowned mammoth cave to help her father make enough so they can have a proper way to honor her beloved brother's memory. cissy loves her family but she's got big dreams and  bigger suspicions that she may not be who she thinks she is. tolly sanford is an experienced guide and he has a soft spot for rebekah and her family. he understands the depth of grief the family has gone through after losing andy in mammoth cave. devlin bale is an aspiring cartographer who wants to earn his father's approval and help him in his political aspirations. the many tunnels and secrets of mammoth cave is the answer and he's determined to find a profitable opportunity. but someone else has the same idea and answers will have to be uncovered before the cave claims another. This is a perfect book to use with your book club as it comes with study guide questions in the back. 

kill fee, the by fiona veitch smith is the second book in the poppy denby investigates series. as the arts and entertainment editor at the daily globe, it's up to poppy to cover the collection of russian art exhibition at the crystal palace. there's plenty of security at the exhibit so when the lights go out and a guard is shot, poppy's curiosity and investigative nose for a story immediately kicks into high gear. intrigue, mystery and a growing body count takes poppy and her colleagues on a race to uncover the killer before they strike again. smith does a believable job with her murder mysteries set in 1920's london featuring poppy denby. i love the historical details and reading about the mysteries of the faberge eggs and their secret compartments as well as the keepers of the treasures were fascinating!

lucifer's harvest: the chronicles of hugh de singleton, surgeon series by mel starr is definitely one of my favorite series!!! this is book 9 in the series where you will travel back in time to the medieval world of war between england and france. i love the strategy for taking down limoges's city walls and the various herbal concoctions that master hugh uses for various ailments as he tends injuries during battle! as always, there's a murder to be solved and master hugh must solve it to clear his name...

sleigh bells ring is a collection of four contemporary romance novellas by sandra d. bricker, barbara j. scott, lynette sowell and lenora worth. you're going to love the tucker sisters---in this book, the four tucker sisters have inherited their father's horse ranch for christmas. it's run down from years of little funds and now they have to make a decision on what it will take to get it ready to sell. joanna, as the oldest sister, knows that if they all work together, they will be able to fix up the ranch in time for christmas and then make a decision about the ranch. the only problem is that not all of them want to return for one last christmas on the ranch. these stories will touch your heart and make your stomach hungry for the yummy food that sarah weatherly prepares!!!

undetected by dee henderson is one of those books that makes you feel smarter after reading it (i can't even imagine the amount of research every book takes)!!! this story focuses on commander mark bishop, a navy man who fulfills his responsibilities well. mark is the type of guy you would want to introduce to all your single friends---he's responsible, kind, caring and a gentleman. and, he's ready to be married again after being widowed for several years. i love that his best friend jeff gray thinks his younger sister, gina would be a good match for mark but mark feels she may be too young for him at the eleven-and-a-half year difference between them. the two guys then focus on matching her up with someone closer to her age and someone they both approve on! you gotta love a story where a brother and his best friend are concerned about the relationship welfare of a younger sibling!!!

unspoken by dee henderson is a super intriguing story focusing on bryce bishop (yes, he's mark bishop's brother from undetected), a dealer in rare coins. he's been handpicked by charlotte graham and her circle of friends to sell a collection of coins that will blow his mind. once again, i feel a lot smarter after reading this story because i've gotten to learn about the world of selling and dealing with rare coins! charlotte graham is definitely fascinating and the mystery surrounding her story will be revealed later in the story (i'm so not giving it away now!!!). this story will definitely captivate you from start to finish!!!

wild montana skies by susan may warren is the first book of the montana rescue series where you can expect adventure, suspense and danger alongside faith and love! kacey fairing has returned home to mercy falls, montana where she needs time to heal from a horrific crash during her recent military tour in afghanistan. ben king is a successful country artist after leaving mercy falls for nashville. he's home again after thirteen years to help his father who needs help because of his dual broken hips. both kacey and ben have been asked to help with the peak search and rescue team by ben's dad, chet but neither of them realize his ulterior motives. chet is hands down my favorite character in this story!

non fiction:

choosing real: an invitation to celebrate when life doesn't go as planned by bekah jane pogue is all about "opting to see how present Jesus is in real-life circumstances." i also absolutely love this phrase from choosing real... "choosing real trusts God has a beautiful plan in the mess, in the scary, in the unknown, in the tears, and in not feeling enough." does this resonate with you, too?!? pogue writes in an easy - breezy - comfy manner that makes you feel like you're having a conversation with a bestie. she's authentic as she shares her own stories, scripture, practical advice and recipes involving... chocolate!!! this is perfect reading to start your new year because a new year means a new me (i'm totally borrowing this phrase from my daughter!!!), right?!?

family-friendly resources:

where does love hide? by mary manz simon is a fun lift-the-flap book that's perfect for children ages 1 through 4. the adorable illustrations, aged-appropriate text and the important life lesson we can teach our children makes this one another winner from mary (i have yet to find something i didn't absolutely adore from her)!!! teaching children to look for ways they can show love is important when we live in an "it's-all-about-me" generation world that endorses entitlement. thank you, mary for writing relevant books that remind parents that it's never too early to start teaching our children about what's important in life.