Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Heart Between Us Two Sisters, One Heart Transplant, and a Bucket List by Lindsay Harrel

The Heart Between UsTwo Sisters, One Heart Transplant, and a Bucket List

By Lindsay Harrel 

About:
 Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.
When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.
As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.
My Thoughts:
The Heart Between Us will not be my first or last read Linday Harrel. She is an author to be on the watch for! However, before I go any further with my review, there is mention of sexual abuse in this novel, so if that is a trigger for you and you're working towards freedom in that area of your life, maybe hold off on this book.
What I really enjoyed about this book was Megan who is the main character is finally healing from a heart transplant through checking off a bucket-list. This book is filled with hope, faith a romance. Megan has to face her fears and take risks. She sees parts of the world that she used to dream about. 
Faith and family fit perfectly in this book as two sisters overcome the past, hindrances that have kept them from the future and our learning how to live fully in the moment. Forgiveness is a key element. This book feels real and I think that is what gravates the reader to this book. You may even shed a few tears on your way through this book, but you will truly enjoy this book! I give this book 4.5/5 stars. 
About the Author:
Lindsay Harrel
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.
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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Keturah (The Sugar Baron's Daughters #1) by Lisa Tawn Bergren




Travel back in time to 1772 England and meet Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson, who has to go to the West Indies to save what is left of her family’s heritage in Lisa T. Bergren’s new book, Keturah. Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?
Enter to win a copy of Keturah. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced March 13 on the Litfuse blog!
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{MORE ABOUT KETURAH}

Keturah (The Sugar Baron’s Daughters) (Bethany House, February 2018)
In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.
Although it flies against all the conventions, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined–and that’s just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.
Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.
To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

My Thoughts:
Having never read anything about the sugar plantations, I found Keturah fascinating as I explored Nevis Island full of green cane, mangoes and plentiful exotic beauty. This book definitely is invorkating for all the senses and will take the reader to a whole new world.

While this book was a little slower to start with, I am thankful I stuck with I personally loved the romantic tension. The three sisters are super interesting, especially as Keturah had to make decisions for the rest of them being the oldest. This book broke all the social norms for women during this time frame and I loved it!

And lets not forget about, Gray! Perfection. You'll love him and his character. Overall, this book has a great sense of historical fiction. Lisa has done her homework. I would have loved to see more elements of faith. I found at times it could have been written in stronger than what was presented. I think Bergen did a fantastic job with the plot, historical elements and overall character development. I am curious to see where the series will go from here. I give this 4/5 stars. A favorable review was not required.




Lisa Bergren

{MORE ABOUT LISA BERGREN}

Lisa T. Bergren has published more than 40 books with more than 3 million books sold combined. She’s the author of the Christy Award-winning “Waterfall,” RITA®-finalist “Firestorm,” bestselling “God Gave Us You,” and popular historical series like Homeward, Grand Tour, and more. She’s also a recipient of the RT Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and three teen-and-older children.
Find out more about Lisa at http://lisatawnbergren.com.

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Home for Hannah (Amish of Pontotoc #1) by Amy Lillard


35353703A Home for Hannah (Amish of Pontotoc #1)

by 
My Thoughts:
A Home for Hannah is about a young Amish girl who leaves her community to see what the English world is all about. Not only did she leave for curiosity, but she left for love. Fifteen years later, is she able to return back to a community she left? 
Pick up a copy of this book! You will love it! I could not put it down. There was constant tension for Hannah between the English world and the Amish world. She was feeling this pull and as the reader, I was feeling the pull for her too! This book is full of emotions and I was surprised with how quickly the characters picked up. A Home for Hannah has everything you're looking for in a great novel. Romance, faith and fantastic characters! I look forward to reading the second book in this new series. 

About the Author:
Amy Lillard
I'm a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I've retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I'm from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son--a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels--not necessarily in that order. I'm a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I'm shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that's why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I'm a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that's me June Cleaver with a laptop.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Passionate Hope: Hannah's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land #4) by Jill Eileen Smith

35069228A Passionate Hope: Hannah's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land #4)

by 
A Passionate Hope is great fiction account of Hannah. If you like Biblical fiction, you will love this book!  With the story of Hannah coming alive, I felt hope come through as I was surrounded with the people and culture during this time. Hannah and Elkanah were real in my mind as I was traveling the pages with them and walking the roads, eating with them during the feasts or watching the sacrifices take place. What I love about reading this book is that it continues to help the Bible come to life for me, which is awesome because the Bible is alive!
The story of Hannah made me weep and grieve is so many ways. Hannah is unable to bear children and she wrestles with God during her years of barrenness. The very things that Hannah wrestles with, are the things that I too wrestle with, but what I am reminded through the book of Hannah and in this fiction book, that God does hear and see our prayers even when he is silent. 
This book was wonderful and it I just loved it! If you love great Biblical fiction, give Jill Eileen Smith a read! This book was amazing! I give this book 5/5 stars.

About the Author:
Jill Eileen SmithJill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Daughters of the Promised Land, the Wives of the Patriarchs, and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Live Hopefully: A Study in the Book of Nehemiah by Lenya Heitzig


35721809Live Hopefully: A Study in the Book of Nehemiah

by 

Monday, February 19, 2018

I Can Only Imagine A Memoir By Bart Millard with Robert Noland Published by Thomas Nelson


I Can Only ImagineI Can Only ImagineA Memoir

By Bart Millard with Robert Noland
Published by Thomas Nelson

About:
The captivating story behind the bestselling single in the history of Christian music—and the man who wrote it
MercyMe’s crossover hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” has touched millions of people around the world. But few know about the pain, redemption, and healing that inspired it. Now Bart Millard, award-winning recording artist and lead singer of MercyMe, shares how his dad’s transformation from abusive father to man of God sparked a divine moment in music history.
Go behind the scenes of Bart’s life—and the movie based on it—to discover how God repaired a broken family, prepared Bart for ministry through music, and wrote the words on his heart that would change his life forever. I Can Only Imagine is a front-row seat to witnessing God’s presence throughout Bart’s life. Whether falling in love with his childhood sweetheart or mourning his father’s death, founding MercyMe or flailing in the midst of its success, Bart continues to place his trust in God’s plans—plans that continue to surprise and surpass what Bart could have ever imagined.
My Thoughts:
"I Can Only Imagine" by Mart Millard is a memoir that isn't for the faint of heart. It has moments of darkness and also moments where God shows Himself so faithful. However, I would not recommend reading this if you need healing from any kind of abuse and have not sought out healing as this book will be a trigger. The song that inspires us all is one that Bart lived through his life and only he can tell the story. Without going into a lot of details or giving too much away, this book will make you think, cry and even give God the applause for how He can redeem the impossible situations. This book was not only a great book, but an even greater story. I give this book 4.5/5 stars. If you love Mercy Me' music, you will enjoy this book and even the upcoming movie. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Healthy Living Handbook: Simple, Everyday Habits for Your Body, Mind and Spirit by Laura Harris Smith

34020293The Healthy Living Handbook: Simple, Everyday Habits for Your Body, Mind and Spirit

by 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dreaming with God: A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God's Lead by Sarah Beth Marr

35138430Dreaming with God: A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God's Lead

by  Beth Marr
About:
The world tells us that the way to make all our dreams come true is to set our own course and strive every day. But when it's all on us, we end up feeling exhausted, frustrated, and, disappointed when things don't turn out as we'd hoped. Have you ever wondered if there was a better way?

There is. God knows the desires of our hearts--he put them there. And he calls us to trust, to lean on him, and sometimes . . . to wait. Weaving together her unique perspective as a professional ballerina with profound truths drawn from Scripture and the life of faith, Sarah Beth Marr reminds us that we are not dreaming alone. If God has given us a dream, we can be sure that he will come alongside us as we work toward realizing it. Using her own story as a catalyst, Marr encourages women to surrender their plans to God, to stay in tempo with his Spirit, and to step into a deeper relationship with Christ. When they do, she says, they will be able to move confidently into the future, knowing that their dreams and God's desires are aligned in perfect harmony.

My Thoughts:
Dreaming with God is a breath of fresh air. This book had be grabbing my journal out and writing down all the thoughts that came to my mind as I was reading Sarah's words. I was praying and listening to the voice of God for His dream for my life and not my own. This book is captivating for every woman who wants to lean on their own understanding but longs to lean into their creators vision for their lives. As people who are broken because of the curse, we long for His plan and unity with Him. I love that this book helps you find purpose and meaning. This book is a source of great encouragement and will have you feeling more spiritually light. I love how Sarah weaves in advice and her own experience through dance to help the reader gently feel nudged by the spirit to the calling of God. This book is wonderful and a must read for different seasons of your life. I am keeping this one on the shelf. 
I highly recommend this book, especially to women going off to college or women in transition. It is a great source of strength and encouragement. I give this book 5/5 stars. 

About the Author:

Sarah Beth MarrSarah Beth Marr is a wife and mama whose passion is to encourage women in their journeys with the Lord through her writing, speaking, and teaching the Word. Sarah danced professionally for over fifteen years as a ballerina for Ballet Austin and Mejia Ballet International (formally known as Ballet Arlington.) Her dancing inspired her to begin a blog of devotionals for ballet dancers, which over time has evolved into a ministry of encouragement to women of all ages. Sarah’s first book, Dreaming with God – A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God’s Lead releases in February of 2018 with Baker Books. 

Sarah loves to encourage women in their journeys with the Lord. She is passionate about bringing joy-filled, grace-filled, biblically-based messages to the hearts of women of all ages. Sarah teaches from her heart and her passion is to stir up women’s wonder of the Lord, to spur them on in their personal relationship with Him, to equip them with the Word, to inspire them to dream with God, and to send them out refreshed, encouraged, and inspired to lean into the grace of Jesus.


Friday, February 16, 2018

An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need to Have It All Together by Kim Hyland

35138431An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need to Have It All Together

About
Women are bombarded with ideas of perfection--and tips for how to achieve it--every day. From her work to her looks to her parenting, today's modern woman is expected to strive to be picture perfect in every way. As a result, calls for authenticity and imperfection are on the rise. Yet, deep down, most of us still want to achieve perfection. Why?

The desire to be perfect, says Kim Hyland, is actually a God-given urge. After all, we were made for Eden. But there is a difference between perfection and perfectionism, which is our attempt to achieve perfection on our own, by our own strength, and for our own purposes--the original temptation in the Garden. In this freeing book, Hyland offers women a stirring manifesto for acknowledging their limitations and embracing the perfection of God through his grace. This is a book for every woman who gives 110% and yet feels shame when one little thing goes wrong.
 

My Thoughts:
"An Imperfect Woman" is where God's grace and truth meets women in the point of their need. It is where we can say we are broken, we don't have to be perfect and we can lay it before the feet of Jesus. All of our failure, frustrations, and the things that don't make us whole, he invites us to bring to him, where He will make us complete. This book is like drinking coffee with a friend who is safe, warm and welcoming. I love the message of HOPE she brings for a person like me who is always striving in performance when Jesus never asked us to perform. This book was great for me and I will read it again. If you've ever struggled with perfectionism or anxiety, you will like this book alike, not because it's easy, but because the power of Christ in you, is at work and this book makes that message clear. This is a message that everyone woman needs to hear not just once, but in multiple seasons of their lives. I really connected with this book and found Biblical application. I give this book 5/5 stars. 

About the Author:
Kim Hyland Kim Hyland is a writer, a speaker, and the founder and host of Winsome, an annual retreat for women that celebrates authenticity, diversity, and truth. She is also the author of An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need To Have It All Together. Kim speaks at national retreats and conferences, where she encourages women by sharing her imperfect path and God’s perfect plans. Connect with Kim at her website WinsomeLiving.com.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul by Jenn Claiborne

35134103Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul

About:
Jenne Claiborne grew up in Atlanta eating classic Soul Food--fluffy biscuits, smoky sausage, Nana's sweet potato pie--but thought she'd have to give all that up when she went vegan. As a chef, she instead spent years tweaking and experimenting to infuse plant-based, life-giving, glow-worthy foods with the flavor and depth that feeds the soul.

The result? Her first cookbook, SWEET POTATO SOUL, offering 100 vegan recipes that riff on Southern cooking in surprising and delicious ways, beautifully illustrated with full-color photography. Jenne revives the long tradition of using fresh, local ingredients creatively in dishes like Coconut Collard Salad and Fried Cauliflower Chicken. She improvises new flavors in Peach Date BBQ Jackfruit Sliders and Sweet Potato-Tahini Cookies. She celebrates the plant-based roots of the cuisine in Bootylicious Gumbo and savory-sweet Georgia Watermelon & Peach Salad. And she updates classics with Jalapeno Hush Puppies, and her favorite, Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls.

Along the way, Jenne explores the narratives surrounding iconic and beloved soul food recipes, as well as their innate nutritional benefits--you've heard that dandelion, mustard, and turnip greens, okra, and black eyed peas are nutrition superstars, but here's how to make them super tasty, too.

From decadent pound cakes and ginger-kissed fruit cobblers to smokey collard greens, amazing crabcakes and the most comforting sweet potato pie you'll ever taste, these better-than-the-original takes on crave-worthy dishes are good for your health, heart, and soul.

My Thoughts:
As a person who has had to switch my diet for autoimmune and a neurological situation, this book has been wonderful in giving me new ideas and inspiration for food. I love cookbooks that inspire me and getting me thinking outside of the book and that is exactly what "Sweet Potato Soul" does for me. I love that this book is based on a plant based diet, which is very helpful to me because I can eat most of it and this cookbook has simple, quick and easy recipes. I can make them in minutes. I love that it has southern flavors, but is so simple, which can be hard to find in a cookbook. This book is for anyone looking for healthy recipes or different ones. I give this book a 5/5 stars for its content, ease or recipes and variety .

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Sea Before Us (Sunrise at Normandy #1) by Sarah Sundin


35069215The Sea Before Us (Sunrise at Normandy #1)

Sarah Sundin

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women's Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers' groups.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Can't Nothing Bring Me Down Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time By Ida Keeling with Anita Diggs

Can't Nothing Bring Me DownChasing Myself in the Race Against Time

By Ida Keeling with Anita Diggs 

About:
Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down is the memoir of 101-year-old, world-record-holding runner Ida Keeling. Miss Ida, as she’s known throughout her Bronx community, isn’t your typical runner. Her fierce independence helped her through the Depression and the Civil Rights movement. But her greatest trials were yet to come.
Ida’s two sons were brutally murdered. Justice was never found. Ida felt like she didn’t have the strength to carry on and she couldn’t hope anymore. But encouraged by her daughter, Ida put on her first pair of running shoes at the age of sixty-seven and began to chase the paralyzing sorrow from her heart.
Running gave light and new energy to Ida, and since her first race nearly thirty-five years ago, she’s kept running and never looked back. Holding the world record for the fastest time in the 60-meter dash for the 95-99 age group, Ida isn’t slowing down. Now she gives us a clear picture of what it means to overcome obstacles.
Ida Keeling shares her inspirational story about growing up as a child of immigrants during the Depression and later raising four children as a single mother. She offers time-tested truths gathered from a lifetime of watching a nation change and from a life-long faith in Jesus. “Every night, I thank him for my many blessings, for his guidance, for his protection,” Ida says, “And every night he tells me, 'Miss Ida, you just keep on, because I ain't done with you yet."
My Thoughts:
"Can't Nothing Bring Me Down" is a great book about a Ida Keeling who is extremely brave. Running at 102, nothing will keep her down. She has been through some difficult things in her life and this memoir is a great testament to her faith, her life story and her determination to not give up on life. 
This book was a quick read. I read this book in less than two hours and found it to be quite inspiring. Ida shares about her childhood, her family and her children. This book will make you hold your children closer, it will inspire you to dream bigger and it will keep you moving forward in your life. I love that Ida is so real in this book. This is a book that isn't for the faint of heart, but for the person who can read real life style and be inspired by a woman who has turned lemons into lemonade. I truly enjoyed this book. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be By Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your FaceStop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

By Rachel Hollis 

With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.
Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.
Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.
From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.
My Thoughts:
"Girl, Wash Your Face," is a book that I believe speaks to my heart because of the season I am currently in. Rachel Hollis is relatable and you can't help but enjoy this book. Her book isn't something that I don't think I haven't heard before, but the way she tells her book, is in a new way that is about the ways Rachel has walked hard stuff and how to turn your life around, so you won't make the same mistakes as her. 
What I love about each chapter of the book is how she exposes a lie she believed. We each can relate to these lies we've believed and through her own stories, she shares how she can to learn the truth, application, and offer actions steps. I love how she isn't afraid to be vulnerable to teach others what she has learned. Her life hasn't always been easy, but she wants to share her wisdom and for that I appreciate! 
This book is perfect for millennials, which isn't to say that older women could not benefit from this book, but this is definitely for a younger age group, which is why I think I enjoyed it so much. I think someone older in their 40's and 50's would have found that they already have figured out some of this stuff. This is a book that I will be reading again! I give this book 5/5 stars.