In Review... December 7, 2018

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Happy FRI-YAY! We hope you are staying warm and snug if you’re in the path of this weekend’s winter storm. A good rule of thumb is to keep 10 books on hand for every 1 person in your house, just in case you get snowed in! Here’s a batch to get you started :)


Inspirational Historical Fiction
THE PLUM BLOOMS IN WINTER
Linda Thompson
SERIES: Brands From the Burning #1

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This debut novel, inspired by a true story presents an emotionally compelling look at the complexities of defeat and the awesome power of forgiveness. As the author follows the often gritty journeys of an American Doolittle Raider and a Japanese woman through WW2, she gives readers an intriguing perspective from both sides of the war and enables them to put themselves in the characters' shoes. The contrast of prisons in different forms - not all of them with visible bars or easily escaped - further drives home the story's deeper meaning. Readers will like Linda Thompson's novel as she weaves long-ago facts into a roller coaster ride of emotions. Have a box of tissues at the ready for the unexpected turns that this road to forgiveness takes. (MOUNTAIN BROOK INK, Nov., 360 pp., $13.99)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans/Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas
HOLIDAY AMNESIA
Lynette Eason
SERIES: Wrangler’s Corner

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When Robin Hardy can’t remember the past six months, how can she possibly know Toby Potter is who he claims to be? Yet, the connection to the man is ingrained deeper than her memory because despite the edge of anger she feels toward him, she believes she can trust him. Toby has his own worries—keeping Robin alive and wondering when she will remember his betrayal. The action is intense, the stakes are high, and the law enforcement agents are abundant in Wrangler’s Corner. With little to go on as far as suspects for most of the book, Toby and Robin are forced into defensive mode. Lynette Eason masterfully blends tension, strong emotions, and a burgeoning romance that will leave readers engaged until truths are revealed. (LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE, Dec., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
SEARCHING FOR YOU
Jody Hedlund
SERIES: Orphan Train #3

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Be prepared for an epic journey in this conclusion of Hedlund’s Orphan Train series. Sophie’s long-awaited journey captivates as she travels on an unknown road to freedom and safety. Hedlund’s words sink into the heart and soothe the soul, causing readers to melt into the story. With irresistible passion, the power of truth, the strength of family, the truth that ‘family’ does not always mean blood, and a genuine faith thread that Hedlund is skilled at portraying, Searching for You is a perfectly balanced binge-worthy read. Historical Fiction lovers should put this one at the top of their reading list. (BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS, Dec, 352 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
SO BRIGHT A HOPE
Amber Lynn Perry
SERIES: Daughters of His Kingdom #5

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Find adventure in the heart of the American Revolution in this riveting tale of romance and espionage. With unique perspectives given throughout the story, readers will be able to grasp a well-rounded view of the circumstances that throw British Captain Higley and the Patriot, Miss Whitney, together. An admirable woman, a dashing officer, Perry delivers a heated passion in the most tasteful of ways!  Filled with rich vocabulary, intriguing characters, and vivid details, readers will be glued to their reading chair as they uncover the secrets hidden within these pages. (LIBERTY PUBLISHING, Dec, 403 pp., $2.99 ebook)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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A room was not a room without a book.
— So Bright a Hope

Inspirational Split-Time Romance
WHO I AM WITH YOU
Robin Lee Hatcher
SERIES: Legacy of Faith #1

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Hatcher weaves a story of betrayal, forgiveness and faith in her latest novel. Readers can easily relate to Jessica and Ridley as strong yet flawed characters. Showing the importance of not taking situations at face value, Jessica and Ridley take the time to really get to know each other rather than judge each other based on circumstances. In this seamless time slip novel, Hatcher provides inspiration in each character’s growing relationship with the Lord, and prompts readers to reflect on their own journey. This story of loss and redemption is sure to win the hearts of contemporary and historic romance fans alike. (THOMAS NELSON, Dec., 320 pp. $15.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Contemporary Romance (clean)
CHRISTMAS AT PRESCOTT INN
Cathryn Parry

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Parry gives a delightfully fun story that showcases the highs and lows of the business world. Set at the perfect time of year for miracles to happen, readers will witness Nathan and Emilie overcome their past and gain footing on a bright, new future. Nathan learns to balance good business decisions with those from the heart, with a little help from a young lad, a past love, and a loyal niece. Filled with wonderful characters and a picturesque setting, this charming Christmas story will warm reader’s hearts as they enter the holiday season. (HARLEQUIN HEARTWARMING, Dec., 384 pp. $4.99)

Reviewer: Jessica Baker

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
A COWBOY IN SHEPHERD’S CROSSING
Ruth Logan Herne
Series: Shepherd’s Crossing #2

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Fans of small-town stories will fondly relate to the common challenges faced and unifying sense of home shared by folks who live in tight-knit communities like Shepherd’s Crossing, Idaho. Melonie, a driven and ambitious southern belle, is determined to make her mark on the world. She is a complex and compassionate character, reluctant to reconnect with the ranching culture, yet delightfully sassy. Jace’s work-ethic and compassion alone make him a winsome hero. With the tip of his authentic cowboy hat, the challenges he works through make Jace a genuinely swoon-worthy character. Herne skillfully uses the bold beauty’s arrival and an unexpected revelation to shake things up for the cowboy carpenter hero to engage minds and emotions with themes of adoption, identity, diversity, and integrity. (LOVE INSPIRED, Dec., 224 pp. $5.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Young Adult Fiction
GONE TOO SOON
Melody Carlson

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When favorite daughter Hannah dies in a terrible car accident, her family is left reeling. When Kiera discovers Hannah’s diary, she finds the perfect daughter was hiding some horrible secrets of her own and fears the family will be torn apart by grief and guilt. This book is raw, emotional and points to struggles even Christians can face. While the writing style may not be for everyone, this book would be an excellent read for young adults dealing with loss, anger and family issues. Recommended for readers 14 and up; parents may wish to pre-read so as to be ready to discuss. (WHITE SPARK PUBLISHING, Nov., 334 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Katelyn S. Bolds

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE

J. Autherine's Wild Heart, Peaceful Soul

J. Autherine’s inaugural collection of poems and inspiration is a love offering to strong, vulnerable women who lead with their hearts, love deeply and sometimes fall hard. Wild Heart, Peaceful Soul is a deep, gritty, raw look at the thrill of loving unconditionally, as well as the mental and physical toll that it takes when peace and harmony are lost in the process. The author draws inspirations from her own journey spanning 30 years, and also dives deeply into the vulnerable hearts of women globally, including her experience growing up in Jamaica. She captures the pain and struggle of women who love deeply and pour into others without first filling their own jars.

We asked Janet what readers can expect from her book - and what her favorite aspect of the book is. Here’s what she had to say:

“The poems speaks to the heart of women on a broad range of subjects - starting a new relationship only to have the person disappear (ghosting), struggling to maintain self-esteem, the need to love someone from afar because of dysfunction, being unable to let go of the emotional grip of an unhealthy relationship, dating post-divorce, and the sheer joy of finding and loving the person who is right for you.  Most importantly, it provides empowerment by holding a mirror to our common struggles.

One of my favorite poems is titled, The Art of Loving a Broken Vessel.  We are often taught that we have to be perfect to be worthy of love.  The poem reminds us that we are worthy of love in every step of our journey.”

A broken vessel needs love the most
Repair it with gentle hands and a kind heart
Apply patience to the bumps and rough edges
Fill the vulnerable places with love
Turn its broken pieces into perfectly imperfect art

Another poem in the collection - Strong Sisters Unite - “was inspired by women of color who, in addition to the normal struggles that women face, are also faced with racial discrimination, stereotyped as sassy and difficult to get along with, considered the fixer/healer/organizer of our relationship our churches and our society,  being called hurtful names in songs that should be uplifting our sisters, mothers and daughters.  We are not allowed to be vulnerable and display a variety of human emotions, such as pain and anger.  We have been increasingly weighed down by the fear of losing our sons to violence and police brutality because they are not allowed to be children and not seen as humans.  We say an extra prayer for our husbands, brothers and sons when they leave the house.  The time to exhale will not be given to us; we have to take it and care for ourselves (meditation, counseling, support groups, spa days, sister circles), care for each other so that we can care for our children and change our society.”

The world knows that we are strong because
our strength is legendary
We are Harriet Tubman, Michelle Obama, and Rosa Parks.
We are Oprah Winfrey, Nanny, and Mae Jameson
We are Shirley Chisholm, Portia Simpson and Maya Angelou

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT - In the Shadow of Croft Towers

Here at HBTB, we are super excited about an upcoming debut novel - In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson - which releases January 15, 2019 from Thomas Nelson. We’re also super excited because we have an EXCLUSIVE early excerpt to share with you today!

About the book

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From debut author Abigail Wilson comes a shadowy Regency tale of secrets and spies, love and treachery. 

“Mysterious . . . Melodic . . . Thrilling and original . . . Abigail Wilson has crafted a debut that shines.”—Kristy Cambron, bestselling author of Castle on the Rise 

Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.

With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—in Regency England is what they claim. Can Sybil even trust what she knows about herself? 

What others are saying

“Abigail Wilson's In the Shadow of Croft Tower is the kind of novel I love to recommend. Well written, thoroughly engrossing, and perfectly inspiring. I honestly couldn't flip the pages fast enough.”—New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray

"In the Shadow of Croft Tower is beautifully written, suspenseful, and satisfyingly romantic. Abigail Wilson paints a beautiful picture of pastoral Regency England. This book will keep you riveted to the end, and you'll be rooting for the feisty heroine to get her happily ever after."—Jennifer Beckstrand, author of Home on Huckleberry Hill

“Mysterious . . . Melodic . . . Thrilling and original . . . Abigail Wilson has crafted a debut that shines.”—Kristy Cambron, bestselling author of Castle on the Rise 

"Part mystery and part romance, Abigail Wilson's debut is an atmospheric period novel that will keep readers guessing to the very end."—Amanda Flower, USA Today bestselling author of Death and Daisies

watch for our review in the Launch Issue of HBTB, shipping out later this week!

EXCERPT

The Chalcroft landau rattled to a halt. Beyond the rain-soaked window I saw little but an eerie sky. I told myself not to panic.

The carriage door screeched open to reveal a lanky footman, who stumbled backward at the sight of me. My shaky hand sought the remains of my drenched coiffure, and I forced a measured breath before grasping my reticule.

The wide-eyed young man seemed to recover and extended an umbrella over the carriage’s narrow opening. “Miss Delafield, is it?”

“Yes.” I forced a tepid smile before descending the steps, my wet frock clinging to my legs, the chill wind whipping at my skirt. I’d planned such a different arrival, one meant to impress. One I’d hoped would afford me the answers I’d come for.

The footman led me across a gravel drive and into the lurking shadow of my new home—Croft Towers. The aged structure rose up out of the misty twilight like an old king dressed in black, surveying his kingdom with a cautious eye. My chest tightened.

“This way, miss.” The footman shuffled forward then stopped. “We’d planned for you to come in the front, but considering your, uh, present state, perhaps it’s best—”

“Nonsense, James.” A tall man with a heavy build held the front door wide, his face weathered with age, his eyes shrewd. A smile appeared for a moment then vanished into a stern chin.

“You may address me as Hodge. I am butler here at the Towers.”

I nodded. “Pleased to meet you. Miss Delafield—Mrs. Chalcroft’s new companion.”

“I’m well aware why you are here. It was I who sent the carriage.”

He motioned me through the door. “Come inside, and I will figure out what is to be done with you.”

I crossed the threshold into a dim marble entryway. To the side, a small candelabrum winked in the wind. The wavering light did little to compete with the overwhelming gloom of thick crossbeams and paneled walls.

Hodge frowned. “Would you be so good as to wait here?”

I nodded, wrapping my arms around my middle, a terrible empty feeling settling into my stomach. Hodge ambled off at a brisk pace, and all too quickly I found myself alone. Alone with my thoughts and doubts.

Impostor. The voice whispered from the recesses of my mind, the same one I’d heard this many weeks or more. The voice was followed by the sound of a casement clock, which ticked to life from somewhere in the darkness. Wind gusts surged against the heavy door, clambering for a way in; but the air inside the house remained motionless, heavy with dust. Unable to move or sit, the nagging chill I’d endured throughout the journey returned in full force.

A door slammed in the distance. Uneven footsteps trailed down a far-off hall. I turned, but no one entered the front room, and the steps dissolved into the pervasive darkness around me. A shiver crept up my arms. Standing as still as possible, I inspected the shadows, fighting off the unnatural feeling of being watched.

Taken from “In the Shadow of Croft Towers” by Abigail Wilson. Copyright © 2018 by Abigail Wilson. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

In Review... November 30, 2018

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Happy FRI-NALLY! We hope you have a marvelous weekend full of family, fun, and good reads! Here are some new reviews to get you started and keep your TBR list hopping…


Middle Grade/Historical Fiction/Christmas
BENJY AND THE BELSNICKEL
Bonnie Swinehart

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An exciting story for children this Christmas season, Benjy and the Belsnickel is reminiscent of the Little House books. With an engaging voice to capture the readers, the author weaves a tale of folklore that Benjy learns to heed - persuaded to behave as Christmas approaches for fear of a visit from the Belsnickel. Swinehart delivers a fun story that reminds children about the benefits of doing the right thing. Parents, too, will enjoy discussing the plot’s events with their young readers. (WHITESPARK PUBLISHING, Nov, 132 pp., $11.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas
COLD CASE CHRISTMAS
Jessica R. Patch

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Immediately from the first page, readers are dropped right into the suspenseful tension that remains a steady presence even to the last pages. A long-submerged car, skeletal remains and some other mysterious clues have Nora Livingstone determined to find out what really happened to her mother all those years ago. While Nora on the surface appears brash and cold at first, Patch slowly draws out the layers to Nora’s personality and in so doing uncovers her softer side, buried under years of hurt. Deputy Sheriff Rush Buchanan, however? The embodiment of swooniliciousness with some deep hurt to address too. Romantic chemistry sizzles between these two former flames even as Nora must fight for her life at every turn - and Rush must figure out how to protect her and his heart at the same time. A riveting thriller from beginning to end with a soul-deep message of grace, forgiveness, and true love. (LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE, Dec., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Amish Fiction/Christmas
AMISH CHRISTMAS MEMORIES
Vannetta Chapman

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Just in time for Christmas, Vannetta Chapman’s new novel embodies the warmth the season awakens in us. Beautiful white snow, a warm fireplace, cozy blankets, family, friends and a story of love fill this short novel with heartwarming sweetness that reminds readers where home is. Lost and confused, Rachel is grateful for Caleb and his parents for saving her, but his traditional and conservative mindset annoys her to no end. However, together through Rachel’s amnesia, time may just open their eyes to God’s plan for each of them and for each other. (LOVE INSPIRED, Dec., 220 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
THE COWBOY’S MIXED-UP MATCHMAKER
Valerie Comer
SERIES: Montana Ranches #2

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Friends don’t let friends turn thirty… single.  As James and Lauren quickly approach their thirtieth birthdays, they separately remember the marriage pact they made as teenagers. And panic. Unable to stand the thought of the man she loves marrying her out of obligation, Lauren tries desperately to set James up with anyone else, while James regrets not making his feelings for Lauren known sooner. This sweetly romantic story is full of humorous miscommunication and tender longing. The reader will be touched by James' close-knit family and will hurt for Lauren due to the pressure and sharp criticism she receives from her mother. The Cowboy's Mixed-Up Matchmaker contains a compelling message about how we can know God's will for our lives. (GREENWORDS MEDIA, Dec., 213 pp, $0.99 ebook)

Reviewer: Phyllis Helton

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Nonfiction/Devotional
RESTORATION YEAR: A 365-DAY DEVOTIONAL
John Eldredge

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The approaching year is the perfect time for a fresh start, and that is what Eldredge hopes to provide for the reader with this new devotional book. In the introduction, the reader, whom Eldredge refers to as “friend,” is asked to consider how the new year can be different. Restoration Year is a great way to implement some changes, as well as provide a daily time with Jesus. Each devotion begins with a verse and ends with a reflection/action step or a prayer. Readings are encouraging and relatively short, so they’re easy to fit into a busy schedule. Males and females alike can enjoy this, as the topical themes are universal (including healing, friendship, hope, prayer, and Jesus’ love). (THOMAS NELSON, Dec, 400 pp, $19.99)

Reviewer: Leslie L. McKee

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Inspirational Historical Romance
THE LIEUTENANT’S BARGAIN
Regina Jennings
SERIES: Fort Reno #2

Bookmarked Review

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Genuinely heartfelt, this engaging plot and endearing cast bring Fort Reno to life! The combination of awkward discomfort and delicious tension between the artistic, determined spitfire and scholarly, masculine soldier is simply delightful. Readers will appreciate the masterful levity and authenticity Jennings incorporates into the tale as well as her compassionate, respectful depiction of the Native American tribes and their culture during the tumultuous time period of the Indian Territory. Themes of insecurity, communication, fear, respect, courage, faith and love ground this light-hearted story in truth and reality.

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE

Tis The Season: An Advent Devotional Roundup

The Thanksgiving turkey is either in the trash or the freezer (hopefully) at this point, and we’ve officially entered the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Christmas music plays 24-7, Santa is ringing bells at every Walmart and mall entrance, and even the Hallmark Mysteries channel has been taken over by non-mystery Christmas movies. (I’m a little bitter about that one, in case you couldn’t tell haha!)

IT’S CHRISTMASTIME!!!

My favorite season, but also one of the toughest holidays for many people. Even if you’re not hit by stress, anxiety or depression as some are this season, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the shopping and baking and wrapping and decorating - to the point that we lose sight of the Reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

The devotionals in today’s roundup are especially designed to keep our eyes on Jesus and the Gift the world was given when He came to earth as a baby - the Son of God coming to redeem His children.

The first place we have to start is Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift series of books for personal reading and for family advent devotions.

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (Tyndale, Sept. 2013) - The popular blogger/author introduces readers to The Jesse Tree tradition, tracing the lineage of Jesus with each day’s gorgeously profound devotional reading.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (Tyndale, Nov 2014) - Beautifully illustrated, this 2016 ECPA Christian Book Award winner involves the whole family in The Jesse Tree advent tradition with Scripture, activities, and daily devotionals - all with children especially in mind. SEE INSIDE

The Wonder of the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (Tyndale, Nov 2017) - Voskamp takes ‘the greatest gift’ series one step further with this darling pop-up Jesse Tree book. Behind the twenty-five doors at the tree’s base are exquisitely designed ornaments that coordinate with the previous two books’ devotionals (though it also includes its own devotional booklet)

Continuing on with resources for families and kids, here are some of the best books out now:

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones (Zonderkidz, Mar 2007) - While not specifically an advent devotional, this IS a must-read for adults and children alike. Specific to this holiday season, the publishers have provided a free, downloadable advent reading plan for this precious book. You can grab that HERE

Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski (New Growth Press, Sept 2014) - Machowski guides families through advent with activities, songs, and stories that encompass the gospel message from Biblical prophecies to Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection and anticipated return.

The Way to the Manger by Jeff & Abbey Land (B&H Kids, Oct 2018) - Beautiful, appealing illustrations accompany the Advent devotions that point to our Savior. Space is provided for families to keep a record of their answers to questions, to create a journal keepsake of sorts for years to come.

When Will It Be Christmas? by Carol Garborg (Worthy, Sept 2016) - Bright & colorful, this advent devotional provides daily Scripture, discussion questions, stories, and activities for families to keep their focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

More interested in something for your own personal quiet time? Check out these great devotionals!

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu (Moody, Oct 2017) - This is a great book geared for either personal or family devotional time. Through 4 weeks of advent, she focuses on a different name of Jesus each week and provides daily reflections as well as suggested activities and service projects.

Jesus Calling for Christmas by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson, Sept 2018) - With 50 selections from Young’s Jesus Calling devotionals, this beautiful collection keeps readers’ hearts in tune with Jesus during the busy holiday season. Also contains gorgeous seasonal images & Scripture.

Sacred Questions by Kellye Fabian (NavPress, Nov 2018) - While not strictly an advent devotional (it goes all year), it also provides a fabulous selection of devotions just for Advent (in a separate section) to help readers truly reflect on the meaning of Christmas.

21 Days of Christmas compiled by Kathy Ide (Broadstreet, Sept 2015) - Daily readings crafted by various authors specifically for fiction lovers, this is a lighter read than most on the list but provides a quick, refreshing reminder of our Savior and His birth.

Are you an adult who still loves to color? (Who isn’t?!? Bring me some colored pencils!) These devotional coloring books may be more your cup of tea…

All is Bright by Nancy Guthrie (Tyndale Momentum, Oct 2016) - This coloring book comes with 31 days of devotional insight from Guthrie, as well as bonus activities and even some kid-friendly coloring pages too!

Drawn into Christmas by Lisa Bogart (Worthy, Oct 2016) - Color your way through Christmas as you absorb these meaningful devotionals, Scriptures, hymns, carols, traditions, and personal stories!

In Review... Thanksgiving Week

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We here at Hope By the Book hope those of you in the United States had a blessed & delicious Thanksgiving! Now that the busyness of the holiday and Black Friday are behind us, here is a new batch of reviews to help you find the best reads for your weekend!


Bookmarked Review

Devotional/Christmas
WHEN GOD CALLS THE HEART AT CHRISTMAS
Brian Bird & Michelle Cox

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Inspired by the hit Hallmark Channel TV show ‘When Calls The Heart’ (which is based on author Janette Oke’s popular book series by the same name), this beautiful devotional book is full of spiritual application from the show. It’s also warmly brimming with pictures from the show, recipes, and stories of Christmases past. Adding to the delightful tone of this book is the fact that most of the recipes and Christmas memories are contributed by ‘Hearties’ (the nickname for the show’s devoted fans) or people otherwise connected with the show’s production. Bible verses, prayers, and thoughtful questions at the end of each day’s devotional contribute to the book’s deeper meaning as well. A great gift idea and must-read for any fan of the show or the original novels! (BROADSTREET, Sept., 176 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Gold Star Review

NonFiction/Christian Living
IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY
Lysa TerKeurst

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Lysa TerKeurst, the New York Times bestselling author of Uninvited, has yet again written a heartfelt recounting of shattering disappointments and painful circumstances while also framing them for readers from God’s perspective. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way touches on the life-long question of the whys, matched with the innate desire to know all the answers and be in control. Challenging, engaging and insightful, the author’s easy and friendly style of writing will draw you in like close friends sharing their most intimate struggles. Additionally, the end-of-chapter reminders, Biblical references and reflections to ponder, make this book the perfect choice for individual use or small group study. More than a devotional or self-help book, readers will find personally relevant themes as well as encouragement to trust God in His promises, learn to let go and let Jesus “take the wheel” in their own lives. (THOMAS NELSON, Nov., 272 pp., $22.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Using God’s truth as your fighting words will not change what you see, but it absolutely will change how you see.
— Lysa TerKeurst, It's Not Supposed To Be This Way

Inspirational Historical Romance
A DREAM FULFILLED (An O’Connor Christmas short novel)
Julie Lessman
SERIES: Daughters of Boston & Winds of Change

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Skip the mistletoe and warm your spirit with steamy kisses of wedded bliss from the queen of purposeful passion in this quick O’Connor Christmas read. Lessman’s refreshingly transparent take on marital discontent and reconciliation is loaded with tension over unmet expectations, compromise, and contentment. This story reminds readers of God’s sovereign plan for our lives especially as our own plans seem to blow up in our faces. The continuing O’Connor legacy of faith, love, and Irish tempers continues to thrive and delight fans with fresh new chapters in the lives of familiar and beloved characters. (JULIE LESSMAN, Oct., 188 pp., $2.99, ebook)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Inspirational Historical Fiction/Romance
THE LIBERTY BRIDE
MaryLu Tyndall
SERIES: Daughters of the Mayflower #6

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Taking readers to the seas, ships, and shores of the War of 1812, Tyndall weaves a romantic tale of espionage and intrigue that will keep readers guessing. Emeline and Owen are both layered characters with backstories to unpack, faith to wrestle with, and secrets to maintain, though Owen may take longer to warm up to for some readers. Emeline’s kind heart and inner strength in the midst of the horrors of war are a highlight of the story, as is the nearly-tangible romantic chemistry between hero and heroine. Divided loyalties - at least outwardly - complicate their growing feelings for each other and add further dimension to their relationship. Tyndall doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of the war or the truth of history, yet she also makes sure to wrap it all in hope, love, grace, and an incredibly touching example of deeply personal faith. (BARBOUR, Dec., 256 pp, $12.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Romantic Suspense
MIND GAMES
Nancy Mehl
SERIES: Kaely Quinn Profiler #1

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Nancy Mehl’s new romantic suspense is full of heart-pounding plot twists, sizzling attraction, and deep insight into the mind. Readers will quickly fall in love with the strong heroine, Kaely Quinn. The daughter of an infamous serial killer, Kaely works for the FBI providing behavior analysis to profile and catch killers. She is dedicated solely to her job, having learned as a young girl not to trust anyone, especially men. But now that a serial killer has started writing poetry predicting the deaths of Kaely and others, she must learn to trust her handsome new partner--Special Agent Noah Hunter--no matter how much she’d rather go it alone. And the emotions she starts to feel toward him, well, those will just have to wait. They have to catch the killer before he targets his last victim--her. You won’t be able to put this book down. (BETHANY HOUSE, Dec., 336 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Katelyn S. Bolds

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Inspirational Suspense/Legal Thriller
CHOSEN PEOPLE
Robert Whitlow

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Warning: do not relax while reading this latest high-stakes legal thriller from Robert Whitlow. While it’s tempting to do so when the text slows in places (particularly in the middle), giving in to that temptation would ultimately be a mistake. The slower pace at times can be attributed to the author’s tendency to tell rather than show details of character and setting, but ultimately the choice works for his proven style. Intriguing international law combines with the continuing complex and charged dynamics between all faiths and cultures represented in Israel - as well as the masterful unpredictability of the plot - to keep readers riveted to the page, waiting to see how it all unfolds. And when it does, well, buckle up and remember to breathe! In the midst of all the intrigue and not knowing who to trust, a couple of touching faith threads weave straight through the story to the heart. (THOMAS NELSON, Nov., 448 pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance/Christmas
THE RANCHER’S CHRISTMAS MATCH
Brenda Minton
SERIES: Mercy Ranch #2

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While there are plenty of sparks between Isaac and Rebecca (not always the good kind, though there are a plethora of those as well), the heart of Brenda Minton’s newest release lies in the wounds the characters carry. From Rebecca’s pain and heartache over her emotional rejections to every wounded veteran residing at Mercy Ranch, and to Isaac who carries both emotional and physical reminders of his trials, the scars are raw and affect the directions chosen and decisions made in the lives of this tight-knit community. During the Christmas season filled with some festive activities to put readers in the holiday spirit, this small Oklahoma town lives up to its name. What better place for a fresh start than in a place called Hope? (LOVE INSPIRED, Dec., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

For more on our review philosophy, click HERE

Overrated Ratings

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We’re readers, we love books, we live books. Stories, chapters, pages are our obsession. Books compel us to explore the world around us and the people who live between the lines move our hearts. The best stories ignite our emotions or teach us something new or inspire us to act.

We aren't here to pick your books for you (you are smart and savvy readers) but we would love to make a few recommendations and share our observations. Even if we all read the same book, each reader has the privilege of a completely unique story experience. It’s one of the most beautiful aspects of books! Our perspectives, experiences, and even our moods change the way we feel about or are entertained by each story (or not). The same book read year after year can evoke different thoughts and emotions for the same reader. 

When we leave a review as an individual on Goodreads or a retail site, readers know we are only speaking of our own personal experience, but a professional review needs to be more, to step back and look at the big picture, consider the audience for the story. We are committed to being as objective and professional as possible but at the end of the day, a review is one person's opinion of the merits and shortfalls of the overall appeal of a story.

When readers look at reviews on a retail site, they don't take one reviewer's word for it, they step back and look at the big picture. As a professional review source, we strive to take that step back as part of our review process. Does that mean we as individual reviewers with our own tastes and preferences will occasionally give a good review for a book that wasn't our cup of tea? Yes, if we believe the book's intended audience would be pleased with the result.

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Our team recognizes that ours are not the only opinions. When you read a review at Hope by the Book, it is written from the perspective of that book’s intended audience as much as possible. Our reviewers do their best to select books which meet their own personal preferences. Rather than criticize books which don’t meet our personal expectations, we prefer to gather the best of the best for you to read. We are also growing, the magazine and our team of reviewers will continue to expand into a wider variety of genres, yet we are committed to a clean, wholesome standard.

Like many other professional review sources (Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal), we have chosen to let our words speak for themselves instead of using a rating system, with two exceptions. Gold Star Reviews are given rarely and with the approval of the editorial team, to books that are truly in a class by themselves. Bookmarked Reviews are the must-reads for the keeper shelf and are also given sparingly. All other reviews are books we feel comfortable recommending to their intended audience, even if it’s not the reviewer’s personal cup of tea.

In Review... November 16, 2018

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As Thanksgiving approaches, some of our reviewers are taking today to share reviews for books we’re thankful for, on “In Review” .


RACHEL DIXON

Kristy Cambron’s books always seem to find a way to sneak into the unexpected places of my heart and speak to the very depths of my soul. Kristy was one of my favorite authors long before I ever cracked the pages open on one of her books. Her heart for God and her heart for her readers has moved me and changed my perspective on life on more than one occasion. Her stories are filled with passion, faith, and love that is not only believable, but it is also tangible. The Lost Castle is her most recent release, and as of right now, my favorite of her stories. As I sit here just thinking about this story, I am moved to tears. That is how profoundly I was touched by her book. I am grateful to Kristy for writing from her heart, for writing the words God has given to her, and for sharing them with the world.

Gold Star Review

Inspirational Romance/Time-Slip
THE LOST CASTLE
Kristy Cambron
Series: A Lost Castle Novel #1

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A Time-Slip romance that will touch the depths of the soul. Three courageous women, three swoon-worthy heroes, and a castle that binds them all together. Travel through history to discover their connection in this story of courage, love, passion, and faith. Readers will be entranced by the beautiful imagery and storyline found on these pages. Cambron’s words breathe new life into her readers. A story that will change your life, The Lost Castle is one that shouldn’t be missed. (THOMAS NELSON, Feb 2018, 384 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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KERRY SUTHERLAND

I am so grateful for the stories that Amy Clipston brings to us, and even as I enjoy each new release from her, my favorite has been and remains The Beloved Hope Chest, which closes out her Amish Heirloom series. Each book before shared hints of what was to come in this tale about a mother who is steadfast and wise for the daughters who are the focus of the first three books, leaving readers like me waiting and wanting to know more about her life before her girls. It is always easy for us to think of our parents and grandparents as those who fulfill specific roles in our own lives, without thinking of them of individuals with lives of their own, lives that (believe it or not!) were full of life and emotion long before we came into the world. This story is a reminder of that, and also of the power of deep friendship, devotion, and patience as we await God’s plans for us to unravel.

Bookmarked Review

Amish Romance
THE BELOVED HOPE CHEST
Amy Clipston
Series: An Amish Heirloom #4

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Mattie’s story is truly a journey of joy triumphing through tragedy, of love hoped for and found, and of children raised in the light of a great, unexpected love. The three books leading up to the final story, of a mother with a past she has never felt necessary to disclose to her daughters but now, as they are grown and creating new families with their own husbands, she agrees to satisfy their curiosity and share her story. Clipston outdoes herself in this novel, with a heroine who suffers through heartbreak realistically and a hero who will wait for her forever, satisfying readers who long for romance that remains believable and a hard-won but happy ending that reassures and inspires. (ZONDERVAN, May 2017, 320 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Kerry Sutherland

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ANNIE STURT

Thanksgiving is upon us and I’m extremely grateful for many things. One thing I’m especially grateful for are the many great stories from many great writers. In Christian Fiction, I find the solace, the comfort and many times the right message at just the right time. On top of all that, there are those stories that provide the perfect laughing storm to give me joy. Author Jen Turano’s books never failed to put a smile on my face, or had more chuckling, and at times, laughing so hard, tears developed as well as an aching soreness on both my cheeks and my tummy. When all else fails, isn’t laughter the best remedy? As my favorite book of hers to date, this second book in “A Class of Their Own” series embodies a lot of what you’ll find in the author’s other books, great characters, great story and a good message.

Gold Star Review

Historical Fiction
IN GOOD COMPANY
Jen Turano
Series: A Class of Their Own #2

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A delightful story of misfits and opposites, bookworms and social decorum, Jen Turano’s In Good Company will entertain readers for many years to come. Readers find a kindred spirit in Millie Longfellow with her heart of gold, yet misunderstood intentions. A bookworm in the truest form, her dedication to learning a word a day mixed in with her mispresented antics to be the best nanny society has known, Millie deserves a special place in every reader’s heart. Add in a stuffy gentleman with three rambunctious wards, and a series of unfortunately hilarious events will knock readers off their seat in laughter. With humor, a bit of suspense, great characters and just the right amount of faith, In Good Company is good company to keep. (BETHANY HOUSE, June 2015, 352 pp., $15.00)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

In Review... November 9, 2018

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Need a good read this weekend? We’ve got you covered with our reviews of non-fiction, contemporary romance, historical romance, Amish fiction, a cozy mystery, and a picture book for kids!


Inspirational Non-Fiction/Spiritual Growth
THE SOUL AT REST
Tricia McCary Rhodes

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In this revised & updated version of an earlier release, Tricia McCary Rhodes invites readers to pause the chaos of everyday life and practice the discipline of prayer on a more personal, more intimate level. Calling it a ‘pilgrimage of the soul’, she provides a practical and spiritually-focused guide to hone one’s prayer life with the ultimate goal of greater fellowship with God and a soul at rest. Chapters are divided into ‘days’, and each day features a section called ‘Practicing Prayer’ which encourages readers to prepare their hearts and ‘press in’ closer to God. The author writes authentically, sharing her own individual experience and wisdom while also remaining zeroed in on God’s wisdom with solid Scripture. Asking readers to adopt the journey as their own, the questions are designed for soul-level contemplation and growth. A great resource for personal Bible study and/or small groups. (NAVPRESS, Nov., 288 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Non-Fiction/Personal Growth
CHOSEN FOR CHRIST: Stepping Into the Life You’ve Been Missing
Heather Holleman

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For anyone who struggles to be noticed or gain deserved recognition, for anyone who is trapped in a hamster-wheel cycle of waiting for the right person or place or purpose to come along, Heather Holleman has written a book for you. Scriptural truth weaves throughout the author’s transparent insight and relatable examples/analogies, and her easy writing style gives the book a conversational tone. Of particular meaning is the truth that women (and men) get so caught up in trying to live out God’s plan for their lives yet they very often forget to invite God into the process. Thoughtful questions at the end of each chapter help readers apply what they’ve just read and ultimately take further steps toward the new reality of living chosen for Christ. (MOODY, Oct, 192  pp., $13.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Amish Fiction
A SEAT BY THE HEARTH
Amy Clipston
SERIES: Amish Homestead #3

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Priscilla’s bravery in spite of a life enduring abuse, as well as Mark’s willingness to listen to his heart and leave his bachelor habits behind, allow for an unexpected and engaging romance that is trademark Clipston. Appearances by beloved characters from prior series installments add depth and community to the struggle this couple faces and, as always, the author offers fascinating insight into the multi-faceted Amish world. Tackling jealousy, gossip, and abuse, this story shares the power of forgiveness and hope and. above all, faith in God’s Word and His promises. Reconciliation is key in Clipston’s storylines, and Priscilla’s ongoing efforts to maintain a relationship with her family without abandoning her fledgling self-respect is a reality some readers will recognize and appreciate. (ZONDERVAN, Nov., 352 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Kerry Sutherland

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Inspirational Cozy Mystery
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
Amy Rognlie
Series: Short Creek Mystery #2

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Amy Rognlie continues her cozy mystery series which will grab readers' attention at the first paragraph and will not let up until the last. The past, present and future are cleverly intertwined, starting with a long ago post card that arrives with no explanation and complicates Callie's plans to build a home for victims of trafficking. Adding to the already-intriguing mystery, a young woman arrives in town and raises even more questions. Who is she? Why do people feel as though they already know her? A dash of romance, a dose of faith, and a mix of skillfully-written mystery plot threads keep reader interest high and make this book hard to put down. (MOUNTAIN BROOK INK, Nov., 250pp., $10.99)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans

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Contemporary Romance (Clean)
CHRISTMAS WISHES AND MISTLETOE KISSES
Jenny Hale

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Calling all Hallmark Christmas movie fans! This is your next fave read. Endearing characters and a fairy-tale-esque plot combine with the charm of the holidays and a to-die-for setting in this sweet romance that’s perfect for curling up with by a roaring fire. Nick Sinclair is much like his grand estate house - empty and impersonal and in need of some Christmas magic. Enter Abbey Fuller and her adorable son Max, their love of Christmas, a house to be decorated, and some well-placed mistletoe. There’s a reason the Cinderella tale remains such a popular, timeless plot, and Hale takes everything beloved about this trope and adds her own style. Abbey and Nick’s story is less about the ‘prince’ rescuing the poor, mistreated woman and more about Abbey doing a bit of rescuing herself. Just in time for the holidays, this is a tender and uplifting romance with plenty of charm and Christmas spirit. (FOREVER, Oct., 368 pp., $6.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Contemporary Romance (Clean)
CHASING SOMEDAY
Crystal Walton
SERIES: Home in You #4

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This tender-hearted romance will delight Walton's readers through and through. A story packed full of drama, Livy and Chase are the perfect match for each other, even if they are too stubborn to admit it to themselves at first. Livy’s emotionally traumatic life has led to choices with repercussions she must deal with, but she also has to find forgiveness for herself and learn that she is worthy of a life filled with good things and happiness. Yet, along with the more sobering themes and the many truths that will speak to readers' hearts, there is also plenty of fun courtesy of Livy’s quirky personality and general clumsiness/awkwardness. After all, a woman who lives on caffeine is the best type of heroine. Chase's protective nature makes him an endearing aspect of the story as well, and he is sure to pop up on this year’s book boyfriends lists! (IMPACT EDITIONS, LLC., Oct., 249 pp., $13.95)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Historical Romance
ROMANCING THE BRIDE
Melissa Jagears
SERIES: Frontier Vows #1

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Read this marriage-of-convenience novel from the safety of your favorite swooning couch - and invest in a good air conditioner and some fans. Jacob is a yummy cowboy/marshal hero with a good heart and a surprisingly tender side. He also has a penchant for making Annie (and readers) blush with his winks and meaningful looks, a pastime he quickly comes to love the more time he spends with his reserved new wife. Jagears writes that balance between gentlemanly respect and simmering passion so well and perhaps never so skillfully as she does between Jake and Annie. Along with the sizzling romantic chemistry, the author also creates both a palpable tension and a comforting warmth that permeate the entire story from the first page to nearly the last. As Annie and Jake face one seemingly-impossible situation after another, hope and the power of Love remain at the ready. (UTMOST PUBLISHING, Oct., 410 pp., $12.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Children’s Picture Book/Christmas
THE WARM-HEARTED SNOWMAN
Sigal Adler
SERIES: Christmas Picture Books for Children #4

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An endearing story about kindness, friendship, and the Holiday Spirit, Sadler creates a beautiful world of magical winter fun to encourage these traits in children. Learning how to care for others and put their needs first is a timely and important theme, at Christmas and any time of the year. Gorgeous illustrations draw children in, and young readers will want to revisit this story several times to be transported to the imaginary world of talking snowmen and little rabbit friends. (SIGAL ADLER, Oct., 50 pp., $10.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

Upcoming Historical Fiction Releases to be Thankful For

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Make sure you add these titles to your TBR

There are so many new books coming out that I am so excited for. And even the most dedicated and vigilant reader will miss when a good book is released. Until recently, I was exclusively a Historical reader. I have finally broaden my tastes, however I will always lean towards the stories set in the past. Today, I wanted to give you a few Historical Fiction titles that I am excited to see releasing soon. If you know me, you know that I have a very low level of patience. Especially when it comes to new books. When I find out my favorite author is working on a new story, it’s all I can do to wait for the book to release. The books listed below are among those books that I am LONGING to read! Thankfully, their relese dates are right around the corner now! Add them to Goodreads and/or to your Wishlist on Amazon so you don’t miss out!

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SEARCHING FOR YOU
Jody Hedlund
Series: Orphan Train #3
Release Date: December 4, 2018
BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS

Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Buy on Amazon

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A BOUND HEART
Laura Frantz
Release Date: January 1. 2019
REVELL

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning--together.

Buy on Amazon

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FLIGHTS OF FANCY
Jen Turano
Series: American Heiresses #1
Release Date: January 1, 2019
BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she's always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Buy on Amazon

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MY HEART BELONGS IN THE BLUE RIDGE: LAUREL’S DREAM
Pepper Basham
Release Date: January 1, 2019
BARBOUR BOOKS

Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

Buy on Amazon

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WITH THIS PLEDGE
Tamera Alexander
Series: Carnton #1
Release Date: January 8, 2019
THOMAS NELSON

Elizabeth "Lizzie" Clouston's quietly held principles oppose those of the Southern Cause--but when forty thousand soldiers converge on the fields of Franklin, Tennessee, the war demands an answer. The Carnton home, where she is governess, is converted into a Confederate hospital, and Lizzie is called upon to assist the military doctor with surgeries that determine life or death. Faced with the unimaginable, she must summon fortitude, even as she fears for the life of Towny, her fiancé and lifelong friend.

Buy on Amazon

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IN THE SHADOW OF CROFT TOWERS
Abigail Wilson
Release Date: January 15, 2019
THOMAS NELSON

Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

Buy on Amazon


Rachel enjoys reading, reviewing books, and sharing her passion for literature at www.bookwormmama.org. She's a virtual assistant and shares the small-town life with her husband and children.


Raising Fearless Readers

Raising Fearless Readers

Fellow avid readers, it’s up to us to introduce the next generation to the wonderful world of books! While there is no “one-size fits all” approach to reading, here are some tips and recommendations for raising fearless readers.

Embrace their individuality, tastes, and preferences but also encourage them to try something new for a balanced bookish diet. Read aloud (before children reach full comprehension and even after they can read independently), time spent together is never wasted.

Have fun with titles from Dr. Seuss. Embrace the silliness of books like The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak and The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith. Pour over the beautiful illustrations and life lessons in the God Made… series by Matthew Paul Turner or the God Gave Us… series by Lisa Tawn Bergren.

Classics from years past continue to delight readers young and old. Generations have grown up with series like The Little House on the Prairie, The Boxcar Children, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Books like 100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls by Jean Fischer, Bud & Me by Alta Abernathy, Lizzie and the Guernsey Gang by April W. Gardner, and the American Girls series teach and inspire. National Geographic Easy Readers series has the power to spark a passion for learning and exploring our world.

Engage and entertain reluctant readers with poetry, short stories, and adventure from Shel Silverstein, the Imagination Station series from Tyndale, the Ember Falls series by S. D. Smith, the Epic Order of the Seven series by Jenny L. Cote, or even fun build your own stories like Be Your Own Duck Commander by John Luke Robertson and Travis Thrasher.

As avid readers, we can lead by example and discuss interesting facts we read or how and why stories make us laugh, cry, ponder, etc. Limit screen-time (including tablets) and encourage time spent with a book, ereader, or even writing stories (with words or pictures). We know the joy found within the pages of a book, let’s empower the next generation and embrace the books.


Beth is an Associate Editor of Hope By The Book, a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and the blogger behind FaithfullyBookish.com. She is passionate about encouraging authors and fellow readers everywhere.

Jerry Jenkins's new book 'Dead Sea Rising' may be his best yet

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With 195 books and over 70 million copies sold (including the blockbuster Left Behind series), Jerry B. Jenkins is no stranger to the publishing industry - or to readers.

Twenty-one of his titles have reached the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists. Jenkins has been featured on the cover of Newsweek and his writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Guideposts, and dozens of other periodicals. He and his wife, Dianna, have three grown sons and live in Colorado. He also owns the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild which coaches thousands of aspiring writers in both fiction and nonfiction.

His new series - The Dead Sea Chronicles - promises to be a ‘heart-stopping adventure of historical proportions’. The first book - Dead Sea Rising - releases November 13th from Worthy Publishing, and we at Hope By The Book are excited to have the opportunity to chat with Jerry today.


About the Book

Nicole Berman is an archaeologist on the brink of a world-changing discovery. During her first dig in Jordan, she believes she has found concrete evidence of a biblical patriarch that could change history books forever. But someone doesn’t want the truth revealed. While urgently trying to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle, a dangerous enemy is out to stop her.

“Jerry Jenkins’ dialogue is equal to the best of Nelson DeMille, his storylines equal to the best of John Grisham. And now Dead Sea Rising . . . this book may be Jerry’s best.”
—ANDY ANDREWS, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE TRAVELER’S GIFT AND THE NOTICER

“Jumping back and forth in time at a breakneck pace, Dead Sea Rising is a thriller as only Jerry B. Jenkins can tell it. Biblical history combines with gripping contemporary mystery. Just be aware—you’ll be hooked.”
—JAMES SCOTT BELL, INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS AWARD WINNER


Q: Just for fun: If you were an archaeologist, which city or artifact would you most love to find?

Jerry: I’ve long been fascinated by the time of Jesus, First Century Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and great strides have been made between our first and most recent trips to the Holy Land (about 30 years apart). We’re seeing more and more of the archaeological level where Jesus actually walked. A dream dig would uncover artifacts directly tied to Him.

Q: You are a prolific writer, with 195 books to your name, including 21 New York Times bestsellers (seven of those debuting at #1). What is the best advice you would give to aspiring authors?

Jerry: Two things: First, don’t start your career with a book. That would be like 5-year-olds beginning their education in graduate school. Write and sell shorter stuff as you learn the craft—getting a quarter million clichés out of your system, collaborating with editors, polishing your prose. And second, never set out to write a bestseller. Write from your passion and give yourself to the things you can control: your work ethic, thinking reader-first, and hitting your deadline. Leave sales and reviews to the marketplace.

Q: What can readers expect from your book, Dead Sea Rising? What is your favorite aspect of the book?

Jerry: I worked hard to infuse the novel with lots of setups and payoffs designed to keep readers turning the pages. My favorite aspect is the alternating chapters that weave a contemporary story with one from four thousand years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. Archaeologist and biblical consultant, Dr. Craig Evans, keeps me on track in areas not in my wheelhouse. He’s been a joy to work with, as he has the ability to keep the cookies on the lower shelf where I can reach them.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Dead Sea Rising and its heroine, archaeologist Nicole Berman?

Jerry: It was truly a collaborative effort with Worthy Publishers and editors I’ve long worked with. Having families face similar pressures four thousand years apart came to me during the writing process.

Q: Why do you think readers continue to find this type of Biblical history/contemporary thriller so irresistible and compelling?

Jerry: Well, I hope they do! Readers are becoming increasingly discerning, and no author dares just assume their interest and, in essence, mail it in. The more I write, the more I want each book to be better than the last, so I give it my all and hope readers like it.

Q: Which books have helped you find hope lately?

Jerry: I’m reading Jim Watkins’s modernization of Thomas à Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ. And while this may seem dichotomous, I’m also reading the multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill. Strangely, though he lived through some of the most tumultuous times in world history, I find hope between the lines.


Jerry, thank you so much for chatting with us today! It’s such an honor to have you at Hope By The Book!

Preorder the Book

In Review... November 2, 2018

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For your weekend reading pleasure, we’ve got reviews for nonfiction, contemporary romcom, suspense, Amish fiction, and dystopian!


Inspirational Non-Fiction/Personal Growth/Memoir
THE VOICE
Sandi Patty (with Cindy Lambert)

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In The Voice, singer Sandi Patty shares her struggles with finding hers. As a recording artist, Patty only expressed herself onstage through music but there was a world of hurt, shame, and pain in all other areas of her life. She shares some difficult seasons and the truths she learned through them without offering excuses or justifications for her sin. In addition to her experiences, Patty encourages readers to find their own voices while emphasizing it won’t be easy but is worth it. At the end of every chapter, readers are provided questions and exercises to put the lessons into practice along with a scripture verse to reflect on. Despite some difficult topics which include sexual abuse, a broken marriage, food addiction, and more, Patty’s personality, sense of humor, and heart for broken people shine through the pages. The Voice is like sitting down with a friend for an update on life, complete with laughter, tears, and healing. (ZONDERVAN, Nov., 208 pp., $22.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Contemporary Romantic Comedy
TEAL PAISLEY TIGHTS
Barbara Brutt

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Pleasing other people is Jadyn’s number one concern. But what is it that she wants in life? Creative, unique, and original, Brutt brings a breath of fresh literature in her debut novel. Real life issues can be found in this fun yet truth-packed story, and remembering to follow the passions God has placed in one’s heart is a lesson which benefits all. With a cast of characters spanning a wide variety, this story is sure to touch the heart and elicit many laughs along the way. Waltz into this perfect Fall read and lose yourself in the artistry of words. (VINSPIRE PUBLISHING, Nov., 370  pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Amish Fiction/Novella Collection
AN AMISH HOMECOMING
Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Shelley Shepard Gray, and Kathleen Fuller

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Four brand new novellas by four of the top authors in Amish fiction equals a fabulous reading experience from start to finish! Clipston’s No Place Like Home features young widow Eva Dienner who returns home to her estranged parents with her young son; this is a sweet story with great romantic chemistry, a swoony hero, and layered emotions. In When Love Returns, Wiseman tells the story of Hurricane Harvey survivor and single mom Sarah Zook who has no choice but to come home with her young daughter; lots of dimensions to this story - with plenty of emotional conflict and long held secrets. Gray’s The Courage to Love catches readers up with fan favorite Irene Keim and the ways she’s moving on after a tragic death; the couple who have taken her in are delightful, and their son Marcus adds the right combination of conflict and romance. Finally, in What Love Built, Fuller heads back to Birch Creek with a story that reminds readers of the power of community and second-chances at love. (ZONDERVAN, Oct., 416 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Contemporary Amish Romance
AN AMISH WIFE FOR CHRISTMAS
Patricia Davids
Series: North Country Amish #1

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Prolific author Davids starts a new series, set in Maine, with a fledgling Amish community and plenty of layers (and not just the outerwear needed for the stark cold and snow). The author’s trademark wit and charm are fully in place, and readers will fall in love with the endearing characters - particularly a dog named Sadie Sue who steals hearts just as much as she steals the show. Her relationship with Michael (who is recovering from PTSD) and with Jenny (the heroine’s little sister) are both so well-written that readers may find themselves wishing a dog like Sadie Sue would find them too. At the core of the story is Bethany Martin’s struggle to raise her siblings alone (particularly her troubled brother Ivan), her blossoming friendship with Michael, and Michael’s battle to overcome his PTSD. Well-written with a sweet romance and lovable characters, this is the perfect choice to get in the mood for Christmas and winter weather! (LOVE INSPIRED, Nov, 224 pp, $5.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Amish Fiction/Romantic Suspense
AMISH CHRISTMAS EMERGENCY
Dana R. Lynn
Series: Amish Country Justice #5

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In Lynn’s latest installment in the “Amish Country Justice” series (#5), Nurse Alexa Grant has a stalker who has followed her across the country. He will stop at nothing to have her, but police officer Gavin, a determined hero, vows to keep her, and those around her, alive. Relationships develop at a natural pace amid the twists and turns of this romantic suspense. The mystery is solid, and sharp details, mixed with action from the get-go, keep the reader guessing. God’s grace and the importance of forgiveness are evident in the characters. (LOVE INSPIRED, Nov, 224 pp, $5.99)

Reviewer: Leslie L. McKee

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Inspirational Young Adult/Dystopian
ENCLAVE
Thomas Locke

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With all the lawlessness of a Wild West tale, this intense story is a stark look at a future where hope is rare and fear is rampant. Caleb, Kevin, and Zeke are young adults charged with the fate of others like them, known as ‘specials,’ and ultimately, ‘adepts,’ who have a variety of mental gifts that make them targets of the government as well as others want to control them.  Strong yet believably flawed characters and a snappy pace will keep readers eagerly anticipating chapter after chapter, and ultimately, wishing for more books. (REVELL, Nov., 288 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Kerry Sutherland

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

Creating the Perfect Fall Reading Nook

Fall Reading Nook

Simple ways to make a cozy place for your reading adventures.

Does anyone else here LOVE fall? It is my favorite season for more than one reason...But the NUMBER ONE fall activity that I am obsessed with? Reading in my cozy little corner of the house. Surprised? I didn’t think so. When we moved into this house, my husband made me a library/reading nook. Which I LOVE! I know how important it is for us book lovers to have our own reading space, and that not everyone has the ability/space to build one. So, today I wanted to give you a few simple ideas for creating your own space this fall where you can cozy up with a good book and lose yourself in another world.


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 WoodWick Candle - Pumpkin Spice

WoodWick Candle - Pumpkin Spice

  1. The first item you will need is a chair. Unless you prefer the floor. A couch, wingback, recliner, make sure it is somewhere YOU are comfortable.

  2. Cozy blanket. I read all year long, of course, but when it is finally cool enough out to be able to pull out my fuzzy blankets, my heart sings with joy.

  3. Fall Decor. I admit I go a little overboard on the decor in my house. But don’t worry, you don’t need to break the bank to add a little touch of Fall. A few faux pumpkins and leaves thrown on your end table with a vase of dried roses adds the perfect touch. (Any craft supply store will carry these. Mine are specifically from Hobby Lobby.)

  4. Candle. This is a MUST! WoodWick is my favorite brand because the wick crackles, which makes it sound like a fireplace. This scent is Pumpkin Butter and it is just what the house needs to SMELL like Fall.

  5. Tea.Coffee.Hot Cocoa. Now that the weather has turned (it was 30°F/-1°C this morning at my house) I like to sip warm beverages throughout the day.

  6. Slippers. We have hardwood floors throughout our house. Needless to say, if I have to crawl out of my little reading corner, my feet get cold immediately! So I always keep slippers handy.

  7. Books. Yes. More than one. Personally, I like the more mysterious books for this time of year, here are a few personal recommendations:

Books

Joanna Davidson Politano’s A Rumored Fortune

Jaime Jo Wright’s The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

Sandra Byrd’s Lady of a Thousand Treasures

Abigail Wilson’s In the Shadow of Croft Towers

Now you can create your own special place this fall for your reading adventures. Send us your photos of your completed Fall reading nook!

Tea


Rachel enjoys reading, reviewing books, and sharing her passion for literature at www.bookwormmama.org. She's a virtual assistant and shares the small-town life with her husband and children.


Food and Words, Together

 Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

“When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.”

– Desiderius Erasmus

 

Books and food, hard decision?

Fortunately for booklovers, we don’t have to choose! We can get both in the form of a cookbook. (At least for October!) Why? October is National Cookbook Month.  *Wink wink.

If you’ve followed my blog, Just Commonly, you’ll know that I’m a foodie or rather a cookbook lover myself. I love trying different recipes and improving my (rather lacking) culinary skills.  Today, I share with you a couple of cookbooks I’ve tried which are still on my keeper shelf in my kitchen.

 Eat at Home Tonight by Tiffany King:

  • This one is a keeper with its simple and basic recipes for those times when excuses to not eat at home are too easy.

The Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook by Toby Amidor

  • Five ingredients are all you need, AND it’s healthy. Need I say more?

Amish Cooking Class Cookbook by Wanda Brunstetter

  • This cookbook includes all the recipes you’ll read in the author’s Amish Cooking Class series. So it makes it fun to read along and know you can whip it up yourself!

Daisy Cakes Bakes by Kim Nelson

  • I don’t have a big sweet tooth, but when I do I like to make something from this one. My favorite? Vanilla wafer cookies with melted dark chocolate drizzle.

Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan & The editors of Lucky Peach

  • Being of Chinese descent, I love to check out some of the traditional recipes I’m familiar with, plus the ones I’ve tried while traveling to East Asia. There’s a bit of nostalgia for me when it comes to these classics.

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison

  • I’m all for anti-inflammatory foods, especially when we start getting up in age. (note from Carrie: as the oldest person on this staff…. I object to that distinction! LOL) This cookbook has many options for gluten free, vegetarian and vegan recipes. I don’t always follow it diligently, but I do substitute without taking away its original intention too much.

Gather Around the Amish Table by Lucy Leid

  • This Amish cooking cookbook is the one I use more often with its pictures and easy instructions.

The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer,  Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker (75th Anniversary Edition)

  • This is probably a staple in most, if not all, kitchens. Many times, going back to the classics gives me the comfort I need.

Quite the variation, but I think the main objective for me in keeping with a cookbook is the ease of use, and flavor.  As Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt once said, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” When we prepare food, there’s a transference of love to those who will taste it. 

Do you have a cookbook you recommend?

“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.”

– Alan D. Wolfelt


Annie is an associate editor of Hope by the Book and the mind behind Just Commonly blog, sharing what she loves most – Jesus & all things book and bookish. She is also the co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours.

In Review... October 26, 2018

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From contemporary & historical romance and romantic suspense to children’s titles and nonfiction, we’ve got your weekend reads covered!


Inspirational Contemporary Romance/Christmas
LONE STAR CHRISTMAS
Jolene Navarro
Miniseries: Lone Star Legacy #3

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When a tough bull-riding cowboy spends the holidays with his kid brothers, the wall blocking the soft parts of his heart slowly melts away. Facing the ghosts from his past and finally putting to rest the animosity between his founding family and the rest of the town may be a job too big to handle alone. He can wrangle a bull, but kid brothers? That's a whole different arena. Hallmark Christmas movie lovers will fall in love with this sweet romance. Family, love, forgiveness, and healing are the main aspects of this story. A quick read and Christmas themed, this is a great story to read during the upcoming holiday season. (LOVE INSPIRED, Nov., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
ON MAGNOLIA LANE
Denise Hunter
Series: Blue Ridge Romance #3

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Hunter caps the final installment of her Blue Ridge Romance series with a story of unsuspected romance toppled by revealed secrets extending to grace and the wisdom of forgiveness.  Trying to get Daisy to see him as more than a figure of authority, Pastor Jack hides behind the anonymity of internet dating. When Daisy starts to fall not only for Pastor Jack’s alter ego, TJ, but also Pastor Jack himself, things get a bit complicated.  Add in a life-changing family secret, and we have ourselves a hot mess. Despite the kerfuffle our characters are in, the author’s writing is splendid in laying the foundation for grace, building anticipation toward a climax when redemption is the only answer, and leaving readers satisfied and inspired. (THOMAS NELSON, Nov., 320 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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...sometimes you just have to extend a little grace to people. Not because they deserve it - but because we don’t deserve it either.
— On Magnolia Lane

Inspirational Romantic Suspense
IN TOO DEEP
Lynn H. Blackburn
Series: Dive Team Investigations #2

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Dive into Lynn Blackburn's newest thrilling read, where trust and loyalty are tested continuously. Readers will be hooked from the beginning when a message from the grave reveals there might be more deep-rooted evil going on in this small town than first appears, even as people turn a blind eye to it. Though this book deals with tough topics such as human trafficking, the author lightens the mood with lovable, witty characters who bring a bright side to the bleak situations. Blackburn also wonderfully captured the dynamic of friends who are more like family. (REVELL, Nov., 352 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Alysha Worthen

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Bookmarked Review

Children’s Picture Book
HOLES IN THE SKY
Patricia Polacco
Grades 1-4

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For everyone who fell in love with Miss Eula in Polacco’s touching 1992 release Chicken Sunday, she’s back in this prequel story set just after Trisha’s family moves into the ethnically diverse neighborhood. As well as opening up important discussions about loss and grief, Holes in the Sky paints a beautiful picture of a multicultural America where people embrace each other’s differences and commonalities. Polacco’s signature illustrations elevate the story even further, with a richly drawn focus on African American and Russian Jewish cultures. The plot and the characters settle right in the heart and make this delightful book one for the keeper shelf! (G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS, Sept., 48 pp., $18.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Historical Romance/Novella
ENCHANTING NICHOLETTE
Dawn Crandall
Series: The Everstone Chronicles #5

Bookmarked Review

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Fans of Crandall’s Everstone Chronicles will be delighted to re-enter the realm of the Everstone family. With impeccable imagery, this short story will entice readers with the beauty of the Gilded Age. Romance to touch the innermost crevices of the heart, faith that moves the soul, and a hero unrivaled, this is a story that should not be missed. Don’t forget to visit the rest of the Everstone family in the rest of the series as well. (WHITAKER HOUSE, Oct., 176 pp., $12.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Inspirational Non-Fiction/Christian Living
ODD(LY) ENOUGH
Carolanne Miljavac

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Social media sensation and inspirational speaker Carolanne Miljavac pens an unyielding letter to readers in Odd(ly) Enough: Standing Out When the World Begs You To Fit In.  Authentic and relatable, it hits home with the many physical and emotional issues one faces from anxiety to abuse, self-doubt to depression and fear to grief.  Yet, in all that, the author encourages readers to see beyond the pain and find solace, strength and courage to let go and let God. Her coaching style of writing may not appeal to all, but her voice is true and honest, inspiring those that see themselves in her to strive to find their own voice. (SHILOH RUN PRESS, Nov., 224 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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How could you ever know just how strong you are if your strength has never been tested? How could you know that you can do hard things if everything is easy?
— Odd(Ly) Enough

Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.

Give Audiobooks a Try!

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A year and a half ago, I was NOT a fan of audiobooks. Let me tell you! I turned up my nose at the thought of someone else reading these books to me. But, I have a secret for you. I am a slow reader. So when my reading schedule started to overrun every aspect of my life, I finally caved. It was a learning curve, not gonna lie. I am such a visual learner that retaining anything strictly via audio, was near impossible.

So I eased myself into it.

I started listening to books for which I already had the print copies. Following along with the narrator as they read. Pretty soon, I could listen to a book while I did the dishes, and I felt so much more accomplished by the end of the day.

Today, I am encouraging you to give audiobooks a try, too! I will give you a heads up, it may take some trial and error before you find narrators and/or genres that you mesh well with. Fantasy novels, with 5,000 main characters can be really hard to follow along with if you are reading the story for the first time. I have also found audiobooks to be extremely useful when there is a book that I want to re-read but can’t fit it into my “print book” schedule.

There are several different services for audiobooks: Audible, SCRIBD (my personal favorite) and the public libraries use Libby among others.

A few of my personal favorite audiobook titles are:

Contemporary Fiction

True to You
Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. (BETHANY HOUSE, May 2017)

Dear Mr. Knightley
Katherine Reay

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain. (THOMAS NELSON, Nov 2013)

Always Watching
Lynette Eason

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son. But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. (REVELL, FEB 2016)

Historical Romance

The Lady and the Lionheart
Joanne Bischof

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. (MASON JAR BOOKS, Aug 2016)

From this Moment
Elizabeth Camden

Stella West's artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston. With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister's death. (BETHANY HOUSE, June 2016)

Young Adult

Lunar Chronicles
Marissa Meyer

A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth's fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. (SQUARE FISH, Jan 2012)

Unblemished Trilogy
Sara Ella

Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength? (THOMAS NELSON, Oct 2016)

Children

Hank the Cow Dog
John R. Erickson

The popular Hank the Cowdog series is based on the humorous antics of the canine Head of Ranch Security. In the first book, Hank and his little buddy, Drover, set out to solve a series of baffling murders on the ranch. Is Hank a suspect? An Outlaw? Can he clear his good name? (VIKING JUVENILE, 1980)

HAPPY LISTENING!


Rachel Dixon enjoys reading, reviewing books, and sharing her passion for literature at www.bookwormmama.org. She's a virtual assistant and shares the small-town life with her husband and children.

Discovering the Awesomest Daddy Ever with Lisa & Missy Harper's new book for kids

“God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” Psalm 68:6a (NLT)

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If you haven’t already become acquainted with author & Bible teacher/speaker Lisa Harper, you are really missing out!

“Hilarious storyteller” and “theological scholar” are rarely used to describe the same person, but Lisa Harper is anything but stereotypical! A gifted communicator, she writes and speaks using colorful pop culture references that connect the dots between the Bible era and modern life. Lisa holds a Masters of Theological Studies with honors from Covenant Seminary.

If you follow Lisa Harper on social media (@lisadharper) , you are already acquainted with her precious daughter Missy. Her joy is effervescent and you can’t help but smile along as she dances with delight over Mexican food or praise music or just life itself.

The mother-daughter duo have a lot to dance about! Their journey to becoming a family was not easy - Lisa fought for over two years to adopt the little girl. Missy’s own health journey has also been a tough road - when Lisa adopted her, she was dying of HIV, tuberculosis and cholera. But today her progress is ‘nothing short of a miracle’. You can learn more of their touching and inspiring story through the video below.

Their new children’s book Who’s Your Daddy is based on a real-life conversation that Lisa had with her daughter, after a little boy at school asked Missy that very question.

Missy has lived with her new mommy ever since she was adopted from Haiti. But when someone asks little Missy a BIG question—"Who's your daddy?"—she starts thinking and learning a lot about daddies.

Missy could be sad that she doesn't have a "skin" daddy who can make her pancakes and take her to soccer practice. But through lots of talks with Mommy, Missy realizes that she DOES have a Daddy! In fact, no matter what our family looks like, we all have the same amazing Daddy; and Missy can't wait to tell everyone about the Daddy who loves us more than all the stars in the sky.

Told mostly through a mother-daughter conversation, this sweet story is careful to affirm relationships with the good, strong daddies here on earth, but it is also comforting for children who might be struggling due to divorce or the loss of a father.


What inspired you to write this sweet story?

Lisa: I was inspired to write “Who’s Your Daddy?” after an experience Missy had in kindergarten. Not long after I’d brought her home from Haiti, a little boy in her class innocently asked her that very question after noticing I was the only parent who came to parents’ day at their school. Since I'm a single parent, my parents divorced when I was five years old, and my dad was missing from a big chunk of my childhood, I’m especially aware of potential bruises on the tender hearts of children who experience the absence of an earthly father, whom we call “skin daddies” in the book.

Who is this book for? What need does it meet?

Lisa: First of all I have to confess that asking an author who their book is for is like asking an essential oils rep who should slather on their wares! EVERYBODY! Seriously, I do think Missy’s story will appeal to and encourage all kids because even if they’re blessed with a present and engaged dad, no parent is infallible (I had to apologize to Missy for raising my voice yesterday and have to send myself to timeout on a regular basis!). Therefore, I believe ensuring every child’s emotional scaffolding is built on the perfect love and permanence of our Heavenly Father is critical for their identity and emotional security.

Have you always wanted to write a book for kids? How was the process of writing it the same and also different from Bible studies and trade books?

Lisa: While I read voraciously and habitually perused children’s classics like “A Wrinkle in Time” long before becoming Missy’s mom, it wasn’t until I began reading to her that I considered attempting a project for a younger audience. And frankly, I knew I was in over my head before typing the first word because children’s books typically contain less than 1,000 words while an adult non-fiction work is typically more than 40,000, and brevity has never been one of my strong suits! Thankfully, my daughter/co-author is not nearly as verbose, and we had an incredible editor who helped tame my tendency to be a total windbag.

How did you chose the illustrator? (Olivia Duchess)

Lisa: I told our editor that my stylistic preference was whimsical yet realistic and while I liked the work of every artist she suggested, I was especially fond of Olivia’s work. She’s very gifted and is based in London, which also happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world!

What do you hope kids learn from the story?

Lisa: That they are never alone because Daddy God is always with them, and His love for them will never fade or fail, no matter what.

How do you hope parents, grandparents, and other adults use it with their kids?

Lisa: I hope this book will help facilitate safe conversations between kids and adults about topics that often seem to be, at least from a child’s perspective, scary and/or off-limits. Hopefully, this tiny tome will not only help kids lean further into the waiting arms of their Daddy God, but it will also help deepen their relationships with their parents, grandparents, extended family, or caretakers through honest and loving dialogue.

In Review... October 19, 2018

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From contemporary romance and women’s fiction to children’s titles and nonfiction, we’ve got a little something for everyone!


Children/Picture Book
THE COW SAID NEIGH!: A Farm Story
Rory Feek (illustrated by Bruno Robert)

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“The grass is always greener on the other side.” In Rory Feek’s The Cow Said Neigh! A Farm Story, each farm animal wants to be a different one by mimicking the sounds of the other. A great fun story with beautiful illustrations that will catch the attention of anyone who lays eyes on it, not just the little ones. Of course adults will grasp the all-too-relevant message of comparison and confusion, but little ones may just enjoy it for the silliness of the animals and the colorful pictures. Either way, it’ll be a story for emerging young readers to learn, for adults to enlighten, and definitely for all to enjoy. Also available as a board book. (TOMMY NELSON, Oct., 26 pp., $9.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Inspirational Children/Middle Grade
LEARNING TO FLY
Sandra Atkins

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When a boy plays a trick on his younger sister, he learns very quickly the consequences of being mean. This story teaches a lifelong lesson to children about teasing and being mean to others. Taking something that someone loves and turning it against them can be so cruel and unfeeling. Thankfully, there is forgiveness from the Father. There is hope to overcome the fear that was instilled. The author’s writing style will engage young readers and speak to their hearts, although some of the plot choices are surprising. In this story, children, and maybe even parents, will learn the valuable lesson about actively being kind. (AMBASSADOR INTERNATIONAL, Aug., 56 pp., $8.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
WHEN YOU LOOK AT ME
Pepper Basham
Series: Pleasant Gap #2

Bookmarked Review

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Musical camaraderie opens the doors to a quiet friendship as two kindred spirits discover the comfortable freedom of mutual understanding. Basham presents an unlikely heroine (a young Appalachian woman preparing to become a single parent following a brutal attack) and faithfully delivers the measured and respectful approach such a situation demands. The handsome and successful British composer hero is amicable despite his emotional baggage of betrayal and contentious family relationships. Awkward exchanges and social blunders further endear Julia and Henry to one another despite the undeniable challenges a relationship beyond their status as casual friends would incur. Readers will swoon over Henry’s sweet patience and care for Julia’s heart. Matchmaking, humorous culture clash, an old family mystery, and the birth of a precious babe will dance across the reader’s imagination with a rich musical soundtrack in this tale of healing, family, and love. (WOVEN WORDS, Oct., 296 pp., $11.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Inspirational Contemporary Fiction
INDIVISIBLE (A Novelization)
Travis Thrasher

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Based on the screen play by David Evans, Travis Thrasher has written a heart warming tribute to those who serve our country. Servicemen and servicewomen know there is a chance they may not come back from each deployment; when they do come home, they are changed forever. This novel highlights the courage they have to get out of the darkness and into the light with the help of a God who gives hope for everyone. Army chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather are deeply affected by Darren's deployment to Iraq, him by being a part of the conflict and Heather by battling to keep her fears at bay and take care of their children. Does time heal all wounds? Can having hope get them back to where they were before or will it be too much? Powerful and touching novel with a great message, inspired by true events. (THOMAS NELSON, Oct., 336 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Patsy Glans

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Devotional/Inspiration
YOU’VE GOT THIS (Because God’s Got You)
KariAnne Wood

Bookmarked Review

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Popular decorating and lifestyle blogger, KariAnne Wood (Thistlewood Farms) delivers an encouraging collection of 52 devotions. With a fun voice and authentically-relatable personal reflections, Wood encourages weary women with these quick but meaningful reads. She speaks right to the heart with Scripture, brief prayers, anecdotes, and application. Additionally, the aesthetic of the cover and interior page designs starts readers out, right from the beginning, with a smile. It’s a book that catches the eye and maintains that appealing connection throughout each day’s reading. Can be read ‘popcorn’ style - by heading to the topic that most appeals - or by meditating on one devotional a week all year. Versatile, engaging, and encouraging, this would also make a great stocking stuffer! (TYNDALE MOMENTUM, Sept., 224, $12.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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But here’s the thing: even when the situation looks hopeless, even when making the right choice looks hard with extra challenge on top, God’s got you.
— KariAnne Wood

Inspirational Non-Fiction/Relationships
NAVIGATING THE FRIENDSHIP MAZE
Michele Howe

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In this engaging book on friendship (the good, the bad, and the toxic), Howe helps readers navigate the labyrinth of relationships to find authentic friends that edify and point to God. She spends time defining Biblical friendship (and why it’s essential), discussing the kind of friend every woman needs, and coaching women on how to become a lasting friend to others. Each chapter is short and sweet, with thought-provoking personal stories, Scripture, quotes, reflections, and prayers. She also includes a ‘take-away action thought’ in each chapter, as well as ‘focus on friendship’ questions that make this a great choice for both small group study and personal reading. Easy to read and meaningful, there is much treasure to be mined here for readers who simply want to pan for gold or readers who want to dig deeper. (HENDRICKSON PUBLISHERS, May, 160 pp., $14.95)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt

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Inspirational Women’s Fiction
AT HOME IN WISHING BRIDGE
Ruth Logan Herne
Series: Wishing Bridge #2

Bookmarked Review

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Herne’s compassion for people from all walks of life is unabashedly woven into the undeniable authenticity of her skillfully crafted stories. The genuine heart of this small-town community draws even its staunchest city-slicker residents as they grapple relevant, raw, challenging issues. Dedicated nurse practitioner Thea has an endearing combination of confident independence and sensitive vulnerability. While she and Dr. Ethan Bradenburg often experience frustration with one another, their biggest obstacle is their growing attraction considering the temporary nature of their positions. Wishing Bridge presents readers with a realistic cross-section of residents in a variety of ages, economic classes, cultural backgrounds, and professions. Grief, poverty, racism, foster care, accessibility of medical services, and human trafficking all play a role within the plot, yet the community, friendship, and sweet romance keep darker themes from overpowering the inspiring hope of faith. (WATERFALL PRESS, Oct., 304 pp., $12.95)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Gold Star Reviews are for those books that are just truly in a class by themselves. Given rarely.

Bookmarked Reviews are for those books you'll definitely want to put on your 'keepers' shelf! Given sparingly.