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.