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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

In Review... October 12, 2018

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From historical fiction to science fiction to contemporary romance and romantic suspense, we’ve got a little something for everyone!


Inspirational Historical Romance/Christmas
A TALE OF TWO HEARTS
Michelle Griep
Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #2

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Griep exquisitely weaves a Christmas tale that would make Dickens proud. Escape to Victorian England this Christmas season within the pages of this book. Two hearts have collided, yet with a relationship rife with deception, are there any chances left for forgiveness or love? The author beautifully draws the reader in with intriguing characters, subterfuge, mysterious pasts, and the hope of second chances. Woven into the theme is the distinct truth of God’s forgiveness of the past and the promises of the future. Readers are sure to lose themselves in this fantastic addition to Griep’s Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series. (SHILOH RUN PRESS, Sept., 192 pp., $12.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Contemporary Romance
ALL MADE UP
Kara Isaac

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Isaac blends an outlandish media situation with heartbreaking medical realities when two former flames are unexpectedly reunited on the set of a “Bachelor” style reality television show. Although sparks certainly fly between small-town rancher Caleb and world-renowned make-up artist Katriona, an intimate and vulnerable wall of blame and bitterness continues to stand firmly between them. Eyebrow-raising bloopers provide ample levity as the characters reexamine their dreams, seek forgiveness, and learn to engage in honest communication. Bravo to the author for shining a light on the helplessness and loneliness of incurable medical conditions. This story reminds readers that it’s possible to have it all and still miss out on what matters most. Glamour, fame, and travel don’t fulfill a heart’s desire for family, faith, and love. (BELLBIRD PRESS, Sep., 446 pp., $13.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Inspirational Speculative Fiction
THE RELUCTANT DISCIPLE
Jim O’Shea

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While his popular new age news program exploring unexplained phenomena such as UFOs and ghosts is sits at the top of the rankings, host Ryan Kates is skeptical. One whose strongest belief—that there is no God—is about to be tested to the breaking point. Through a handful of characters, Jim O’Shea sets up the ultimate end game as prophesied in Revelation. Combining religious and Biblical history, a dash of science, intense—sometimes frightening—moments, and a plethora of deceit, The Reluctant Disciple serves as an unforgettable reminder that the final battle for every soul draws nearer. (AMBASSADOR INTERNATIONAL, Oct., 308 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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Inspirational Historical Fiction/Mystery
LADY OF A THOUSAND TREASURES
Sandra Byrd
Series: The Victorian Ladies #1

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Treasure, mystery, and romance are exquisitely intertwined in this Victorian Era story. Between the heart-pounding drama and the heart-stopping kisses, readers will lose themselves in this world of antiquities and love. See the beauty of trust and honesty played out on each page, and learn a lot of real history as well. Byrd allows the characters to tell their stories and readers to be swept into a different age. Any fan of Victorian fiction is sure to fall in love with this one. (TYNDALE, Oct., 464 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon

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All people want to believe what they wish to believe, but we must all eventually look to believe the truth, whether or not that’s what we wished.
— Lady of a Thousand Treasures

Inspirational Romantic Suspense
HIDDEN PERIL
Irene Hannon

Series: Code of Honor #2

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Irene Hannon’s romantic suspense is a balanced blend of heartwarming attraction, page-turning suspense, and pulse pounding climax. Readers will be inspired by the heroine’s warm, confident, and compassionate personality. Through her volunteer work with a children’s theater and the operation of her missions-funding fair-trade boutique, Kristen Dane is making a positive impact on the world. Although Detective Luke Carter is new to town and still processing his personal grief, he doesn’t deny the future possibilities a certain mutual attraction presents. His ability to focus on the case Kristen is indirectly involved in while keeping their relationship at a professional level requires an admirable level of integrity and self control. The hero is attractive, intelligent, and a modern-day knight in shining armor. While events surrounding the case seem to spiral out of control, the story reminds readers of the importance of solid faith and positive relationships. (REVELL, Oct., 416 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin

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Inspirational Romantic Suspense
LETHAL TARGET
Janice Cantore
Series: The Line of Duty #2

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Written by a former law enforcement officer, the second installment of The Line of Duty series delivers suspense with a great dose of authenticity that seems all too real at times. With tensions in Rogue Hollow on the rise over the legalization of marijuana, police chief Tess O’Rourke has quite the battle to overcome, both professionally and personally.  When a recent murder seems to be tied in with the local drug supply chain, the chief will need all the help she can get, even if that means delving into her struggle with her faith. With believable characters leading the charge to a suspenseful plot that keeps you guessing, and the thoughtful inspirational message of grace and truth interwoven throughout, Lethal Target will leave you entertained and encouraged. (TYNDALE HOUSE, Oct., 416 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
THE TWINS’ FAMILY CHRISTMAS
Lee Tobin McClain
Series: Redemption Ranch #2

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Lily Watkins has an ulterior motive for becoming acquainted with Carson Blair and his daughters, but the secret she holds requires she keep this family at arms-length. A feat that grows more difficult as she spends time with two little girls, their father, and a wise veteran residing at her aunt’s Colorado ranch. Like Lily, readers will be drawn by two these adorable six-year-old sisters with big, but different, personalities and an even bigger Christmas wish. McClain combines the laughter, warmth, and togetherness of the holidays to the forefront with a stark reminder that the season isn’t joyous for everyone. In so doing, she skillfully draws readers into this heartwarming Christmas story, inviting them to sit at the table with characters who feel like long-lost friends and family. (LOVE INSPIRED, Nov., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Suzie Waltner

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Inspirational Contemporary Romance
A KITE ON THE WIND
Patricia Lee
Series: Mended Hearts #3

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Grief over his wife's death drove Monty, a marine scientist, to relocate with his eight-year-old twins. His children struggle with their own pain and are referred to Claire, a learning specialist who struggles with a heartache of her own. As the two adults work together to help the children, they discover healing for themselves and their hearts begin to soar. With endearing characters and a compelling plot, this story of restored hearts and love is a touching and inspirational addition to the Mended Hearts series by this author. (MOUNTAIN BROOK INK, Oct., 303 pp., $13.99)

Reviewer: Phyllis Helton

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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.

Ted Dekker on his new book & the power of story

Author Ted Dekker is well-known for his masterful and unique storytelling - with over ten million copies sold and bestseller lists galore. But it’s the symbolism and underlying spiritual truths in his stories that he most wants readers to connect with.

His new release, Rise of the Mystics (Oct 2018) is the follow-up novel to The 49th Mystic (May 2018) and concludes Dekker’s Beyond The Circle series. He says the two books in this duology are “without a doubt the most important novels I have ever written” and based them on the spiritual insights he gleaned from writing The Forgotten Way and The Way of Love, his nonfiction books.


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Some say that the gateway to a greater reality and the mystery of how one can live in two worlds is only the stuff of dreams. They are wrong. Rachelle Matthews discovered just how wrong when she dreamed and awoke in another world. There she learned that she is the 49th Mystic, the prophesied one, tasked with finding five ancient seals before powerful enemies destroy her.

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

Rise of the Mystics begins the final volume of high stakes in Rachelle’s quest to find an ancient path that will save humanity. If she succeeds, peace will reign. If she fails, the world will forever be locked in darkness.


Our Reviewer’s Take

Ted Dekker spins a story of good versus evil in a way that will grip readers from the first page.  Dreams, prophesies, and ancient seals lead to twists and turns never expected, all while keeping vital Biblical aspects at the core. One girl's life altering journey is the only thing keeping two worlds from the dark, overwhelming shadow of fear. Love might be the only saving grace. (REVELL, Oct., 416 pp, $24.99)

Reviewer - Alysha Worthen


Q&A with Ted Dekker

The 49th Mystic and Rise of The Mystics are both much more than an entertaining story. What was your purpose in writing them?

TD: With even a cursory look at the world of faith, it becomes clear that Christians are really no different from people of other faiths or of no faith. This defies Jesus’s announcement that those in his way will be known for a radical kind of love that holds no record of wrong. So the question we ask is, What does it mean to be in his way? And are we in it now? I wrote these novels to plumb the depths of those questions.

HBTB: ‘a radical kind of love’ - we certainly need more of that these days!

You have some very dynamic characters in both The 49th Mystic and Rise of the Mystics. Which character has made the biggest impact on you?

TD: Without a doubt, Rachelle. She really is all of us—certainly me—journeying through wild adventure to know herself in the midst of great change and challenge.

HBTB: A place we all find ourselves in eventually …

In the Circle series, you introduced readers to Thomas Hunter. In Rise of the Mystics, Thomas makes another appearance. Why does he play such an important role in this finale?

TD: Although this is Rachelle’s story, and although she is tasked with saving Thomas, she can only do so if he helps her in her role. They have a symbiotic relationship. Both are critical and interdependent.

HBTB: So much truth there to ponder on, particularly as we interact in community.

You have alluded to the fact that story is a great tool for understanding truth. Why do you think that novels can convey truths so effectively?

TD: We live and think in a story that we each call “my life.” Everything we think is really a story of what something is. Thus, story is paramount to our human experience, which is why Jesus used it as his primary mode of teaching. We are all looking to change the story of our lives. In fiction, we take that journey of change through a series of events involving worthy characters who change as a result of those events. And we are invited to change with them.

HBTB: Yes! We love this answer!

What do you hope readers gain from reading Rise of the Mystics?

TD: An addictive read and a shift in thinking about their own purpose for existence, whatever that shift might be. And for Christians, a whole new way to think of what it means to be in the way of Jesus.


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Ted Dekker is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, with over ten million copies sold worldwide. He was born in the jungles of Indonesia to missionary parents, and his upbringing as a stranger in a fascinating and sometimes frightening culture fueled his imagination. Dekker’s passion is simple—to explore truth through mind-bending stories that invite readers to see the world through a different lens. His fiction has been honored with numerous awards, including two Christy Awards, two Inspy Awards, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, and an ECPA Gold Medallion. In 2013, NPR readers nationwide put him in the Top 50 Thriller Authors of All Time. Dekker lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Lee Ann.

Hope By the Book - a magazine for avid readers by avid readers

Welcome!

We are super excited to welcome you to our home on the web for Hope By The Book, a brand new magazine for avid readers by avid readers!

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Hope By The Book is doing what has never quite been done before - creating a magazine to celebrate books (across multiple genres, fiction and nonfiction) AND the reading life for the avid reader, as well as offering smart reviews from industry professionals to industry professionals.

Each issue will have new articles for every reader seeking useful, fun, and inspiring content all about books and the reading life! It will be packed with top notch articles and images that feed your inner bookworm and arm you with great books to grab at the bookstore.

Each post on our website will do the same!

We love books. We live books. In fact, to us, books and lifestyle are interchangeable. Books inspire us to change our lives, to refine our souls, to stretch our imaginations, and to deepen our faith. We are avid readers and book ambassadors, and we invite you to join us as we find HOPE by the book.

 Photo by  Leyre Labarga  on  Unsplash

In Review... September 28, 2018

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Looking for a great book to read this weekend? Our reviewers are loving these picks!


Contemporary Romance / Novella
ROSE IN THREE QUARTER TIME
Rachel McMillan
Series: Three Quarter Time #2

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Rose in Three Quarter Time, a love letter to music, is one of those marriage of convenience romances that melts your heart with the beauty of love and the harmony of music. Like a composer, the author created a stirring story and, like a musical conductor, she directed the tempo and pulse of Rose in Three Quarter Time in perfect rhythm.  Readers will feel Rose’s excitement as a musician meeting the renown conductor Oliver Thorne, and they will understand Oliver’s plight in keeping Rose by his side, even towards the road of deception.  The question remains, is it deception to the world or just their hearts?  Though short in word count, this novella will satisfy readers looking for a quick read but will compel the reader to read it more than once. (Sept., 178 pp., $0.99)

Reviewer: Annie Sturt


Inspirational Contemporary Romance / Christmas
A CHRISTMAS BY THE SEA
Melody Carlson

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Each year readers look forward to Carlson’s Christmas stories - for her sweet Hallmark-Channel-esque plots and gorgeous covers that sets the mood for Christmas. In her latest holiday release, Carlson goes to the coast of Maine with young widow Wendy Harper and her tween son Jackson who are there to fix up and sell the cottage she recently inherited from her grandfather. All the characters (with maybe one exception) are multi-dimensional and relatable, but especially Wendy and Jackson and the emotional layers to their story - past, present, and future. A nice dash of romance (with a bit of easily-forgiven instalove because it’s Christmas!) accompanies the palpable chemistry between Wendy and swoony local craftsman Caleb Colton. This is a delightful story that can be enjoyed no matter what time of year it is, but certainly will call for a re-read next Christmas too! (REVELL, Sept., 176 pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


Contemporary Young Adult
WHITE AS SILENCE, RED AS SONG
Alessandro D’Avenia
translated from the Italian

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There is much more dimension to this coming-of-age story than might first appear. Hints of something deeper, something just out of Leo’s grasp, weave in and out of his stream-of-consciousness narrative (which the author captures perfectly). Various characters who cross his path, two in particular (Gandalf and The Dreamer, as he refers to them), gently nudge him to think beyond the surface, beyond the not-yet-mature reactions of a teenage boy, to the bigger picture of faith in God and what it means to be a friend. To Leo, white is ‘nothingness’ and silence and scary. Red is passion and love and life - and Beatrice, his unrequited crush. When white and red suddenly clash together in Beatrice, Leo has to quickly make some grown-up decisions. While the writing style may not be for everyone, it is brilliantly done nonetheless and isn’t afraid to tackle tough questions of life, death, and faith. (THOMAS NELSON, Sept., 272 pp., $16.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


Inspirational Historical Fiction
HIDDEN AMONG THE STARS
Melanie Dobson

Gold Star Review

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Melanie Dobson captivates readers when the past collides with the present in this unique time-slip story of the Second World War. Written from several perspectives, the author explores a side of WWII that is not often featured. Forced into situations beyond their control, our characters must fight for survival in Nazi occupied Austria - including Max Dornbach, a kindhearted man with a fierce desire to protect those he loves. In present day, Callie Randall is determined to uncover the secrets of the past, spurred by the discovery of an old children’s book with unusual markings. Filled with intrigue and sacrifice, Dobson stirs a passion in readers for this era. A heartrending story combined with passion and hope, this time-slip story is not to be missed. (TYNDALE HOUSE, Sept., 416 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Rachel Dixon


Inspirational Historical Romance
AN HOUR UNSPENT
Roseanna M. White

Series: Shadows Over England #3

Bookmarked Review

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Fans will adore the romance, suspense, subtle humor and delightful ragtag family of street orphans in this conclusion of the Shadows Over England series. Be prepared to swoon over the hero, a devoted big brother with a heart of gold, as he navigates the unfamiliar narrow path of a new believer while using his unique skill set as a former thief for the greater good during the height of WWII. Barclay’s fiercely protective nature and carefully honed street smarts make him an invaluable asset to his family, his nation, and his new neighbor. Cool and controlled Evelina fights for women’s rights and female independence yet she wasn’t prepared for a broken engagement (or her mother’s reaction) when her fiancée unexpectedly enlists and ships out to the front lines. Secrets, lurking dangers, and intriguing new technology bring Barclay and Evelina together in this story of home front heroes, family affection, and abiding faith. (BETHANY HOUSE, Sept., 416 pp., $15.99)

Reviewer: Beth Erin


Inspirational Romantic Suspense
A SECRET TO DIE FOR
Lisa Harris

Bookmarked Review

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Lisa Harris writes romantic suspense that is full of mystery and heart pounding suspense. Her new book focuses on the fear of cyber-terrorism that has an end of times feel. The budding romance between Grace and Nate was sweet. Both Grace and Nate are dealing with grief. Nate’s grief is wrapped in the cloak of PTSD which is what drives him. Living off the grid, Psychology, PTSD, Grief, Child loss, and Cyber-terrorism make up this very suspenseful, edgy romantic read. (REVELL, Sept., 336 pp., $14.99)

Reviewer: Andi Tubbs


Bookmarked Review

Inspirational Romantic Suspense
EXPLOSIVE FORCE
Lynette Eason
Series: Military K-9 Unit #6

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Wow! The Military K-9 Unit series continues to be edge-of-your-seat suspense, action, and romance. Eason’s installment starts out with a bang - quite literally - and the danger doesn’t let up until the very end. Even then, the underlying story arcs of the Red Rose Killer and the missing K-9s continue to linger in the air, promising more action and danger ahead. Nick and Heidi make a great team, with fun banter that brings brief levity when most needed. Nick’s love/hate relationship with Heidi (and all reporters) is tested in both extremes throughout this quick-read novel, and Gramps adds a few more chuckles with his wry observations of the situation. “Gotta find me a woman I don't like as much as you don't like that one.” Annie, Nick’s bomb-sniffing bloodhound, is a loyal partner and heroine in her own right. Eason excels at taking her characters on an intense quest for survival while still organically weaving threads of faith and humor throughout, and Explosive Force is yet another example of her talent. (LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE, Sept., 224 pp., $5.99)

Reviewer: Carrie Schmidt


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.