Chapters address topics such as: God the Father, Inner Vows, Judgments, Forgiveness, Discarding Lies, Embracing Truth, Enjoying Identity, Blessings and Curses, and Healing Relationships.
The truth is that there is nothing wrong with your original design, and in Jesus you will find everything you need to be restored to your unique and magnificent self. This book will help take you there, or at least help begin the journey.
Because this is in workbook form, it can be adapted for use in small groups, with a mentor, or in workshops.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I love a book that leaves me feeling inspired, especially in time for Christmas. The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson is a sweet novella of friendship, faith and love that is perfect for the Christmas season.
The author takes the reader on a journey into the lives of four friends who were brought together into a book group by their one common friend - Abby. It was to Abby the group gave credit for bringing them together and it was Abby who knew each of them well enough that they all confided in her, but when she dies they are lost without her, ready to give up on the book group Abby started. Ready to give up on maybe creating friendships with each other that could be just as deep. We soon discover however, that when grief is shared, friendships become stronger and Abby's four friends learn more about each other and themselves then they ever thought possible.
While I was disappointed that Abby's character was not developed enough to make me care that she had died, the reader does learn about her from the way her friends react to her death and with the gifts she leaves each of them. If more effort had been put into Abby I might have been shocked and I might have cried right along with her friends. So for me, it wasn't a very moving experience.
That said, what happens to the four friends after Abby's death is something I think most women wish they had - great friends who support each other through their struggles and their joys. I loved the way the women begin to open up to each other as they try to honour their friend with the Christmas Angel Project. This is an inspiring story to read at Christmas and is one I'm sure you'll love. It may even inspire you to become a Christmas Angel!
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Reviewer: Laura Thomas
Romantic suspense is my favourite genre to read, especially when the storyline is gripping and the characters are strong. For me, Always Watching hit both marks! There’s nothing like a stalker to keep the element of surprise real, and this book managed to stay at a decent pace right the way through. I thoroughly enjoyed the gradual blossoming romance, and liked the idea of having female bodyguards—it was an interesting twist. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is that I wish I could have liked Wade Savage, the famous client, more. We didn’t quite “click” and so I wasn’t rooting for him as much as I was for his young daughter, but that’s totally fine—I still devoured this book, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I wasn't sure what to expect when I happened upon A Miser, A Manger, a Miracle by Marianne Jordan. I thought it would be about a miserly old man who refused to give Mary and Joseph a room at the inn, and it was that, but it was so much more.
The author has taken A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and mixed it with the story of the birth of Christ and it works beautifully. The character of Ebenezer Scrooge, is still called Ebenezer, but he runs an inn in Bethlehem and he's hoping to make a buck because of the census Herod has called. All the characters are there - tiny Tim is Timothy, Bob Cratchit is Aaron and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are instead, angels who make their visits to Ebenezer all in one night. And all the characters of the "first Christmas" are there as well - Mary, Joseph and of course baby Jesus. The author skilfully introduces them to Ebenezer through the angels who visit him and he gets a glimpse not only of Jesus in the manger, but he is able to see what happens to Jesus at the end of his life.
While the story is charming and interesting in its adaptation and could quite easily become a "Christmas Classic," it did not move me as it should have and that is probably because the "Scrooge" story is all too familiar. However, I loved the creative aspect of this story. The author has taken a Christmas classic that was devoid of Jesus, but heavy on redemption, and remade it to include Jesus who redeemed mankind. I highly recommend this book as something you should be reading this Christmas!
Reviewer: Mary Hosmar
Joe Peas is a complex man. The Italian itinerant house painter is much more than he seems. Mr. Newsome has taken what seems to be a simple story with a simple hero and turned it into a convincing and interesting character study of both Joe Peas and human nature.
Although I found the introduction of new characters in almost every chapter in the first part of the book somewhat mystifying and confusing, I kept reading.
Eventually, it all came together into a good story which made the reading effort very worthwhile. The characters are well developed, interesting and believable although some of the situations they found themselves in were hard to imagine.
The author, being a medical doctor himself, brings in a lot of medical (and at times, legal) information, some of which, although informative, was too long and
detracted from the story.
I was disappointed towards the ending. It seemed as if the author was in a rush to tie up loose ends, some of which might have been better left for the reader to
wonder about. The rush to finish the story left this reader with a dissatisfied feeling. The last part of the last chapter, however, brings the story back to the
beginning and is a fitting way to end.
Reviewer: Becky Hrivnak
Drawn to You, written by Liewen Y. Ho, was an interesting read. Like Ho's other books in this series, this book is very focused on the fact that the main characters are Chinese.
The main characters are Sammie Koo and Lucas Choi. The character of Sammie is portrayed as very spoiled, somewhat doing what she wants to do when she wants to do it...very artistic since she's an art teacher. Lucas is portrayed more as very strict, set in his ways of always going by the book, following the rules...very police-like since, of course, he's a policeman. I think the author was going for the opposites attract and she did a great job at following through on the romance when it was blooming. Ho seemed to show the characters very intent on falling for each other when they were in that mood.
One thing that I could fault the book for is when the POV changed from the female main character to the male main character, the scenes seemed to get a bit messy. Sometimes it was hard to follow where the one character was and suddenly the other characters POV was showing up.
The storyline was good, the characters were interesting especially since they were so opposite, and the ending was good. There wasn't a lot of spiritual truths in the book. The characters attended church, but it was not at all preachy. It was a very clean read with no sexual content. I would recommend this book for readers seeking books about characters in their late 20's.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
"You and me are an argument waiting to happen."
Truer words were never spoken about Sam Koo and Lucas Choi, their fire and ice personalities combustible with just the tiniest spark of tension. Having lost touch after high school, Sam has returned home from Paris to open a struggling art school while Lucas moved on to marry, become a member of the local police department and struggle to be a single parent for his young daughter, after the tragic death of his wife. When a random traffic stop brings the two face-to-face, Lucas wonders why he is still drawn the most infuriating girl in his high school class.
A classic story of opposites attracting, with witty, winsome conversations and hearts that break in just the right places. There were a few mild adaptations of profanity in this story, which in my opinion were unnecessary. In addition, the inspiration element was rather faint, seeming almost forced. So this book definitely fell into the 3 star category for me, although the author’s writing ability shows great promise. Writing inspirational fiction is no easy task!
I received a copy of this story from the author. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Jane Daly
Moonlight in Manhattan is a sweet holiday love story. The two main characters, Justin and Sarah, are believable and down-to-earth. They are an unlikely couple who meet after Sarah’s next-door neighbor, Lillian, is taken by ambulance to the hospital. Conflict arises as Sarah, a driven self-starter, thinks Justin is taking advantage of his grandmother, Sarah’s next-door neighbor.
There was a plot twist that I would have liked to see developed: a mystery anomaly of Lillian’s blood tests. It would add more tension to the story.
All in all, the story is an enjoyable read. The release is a timely one, right around the holidays. It made me want to put up Christmas lights and drag out my Nativity scene.
Reviewer: Mary Hemlow
Sarah Montgomery lives and runs her own business in Manhattan. A health emergency with one of her neighbours, an elderly woman, leads to Sarah’s discovery that the woman would benefit from her help. There’s only one problem. In order to help her, Sarah has to cooperate with the woman’s deadbeat, but attractive grandson, Justin. As Sarah gets to know Justin, she finds herself being attracted to him, against her better judgment. Justin isn’t being completely open and honest with Sarah. Added to everything are Sarah’s feelings of abandonment by her wealthy, money focused parents. Will Sarah deal with her fear and allow a man who loves her into her heart?
The story offers a glimpse into the lives of two characters, strengthened by their faith, but wrestling with doubts about relationships and emotions left by events from their pasts. Sarah’s heroism lies not only in these struggles but in that she lives and runs her own business in one of the largest cities in the world. The book delivers in the romance reader’s format. It’s an engaging read.
The title and cover promise a journey to a different place, which I think could have delivered more. The city itself is weakly portrayed. Names of places will be well known to those who have visited New York, but as a person who has not had that pleasure, I was unable to make the connections with the places and would have appreciated more descriptive detail about them. In spite of this minor deficiency, I give the book five stars.
Reviewer: Edwina Cowgill
Moonlight Over Manhattan is a fun read for this time of the year! Set during the months of November and December, there’s just enough seasonal undertones to put you in the holiday spirit, or keep you there!
Ms. Turansky has done an excellent job in writing and developing characters who wiggle their way into your heart early in the book.
Although not the heroine, “Miss” Lillian will remind you of your grandmother. With her gracious manners and mischievous matchmaking, she quickly becomes your favorite character.
Justin, the hero, is Lillian’s grandson and has come to stay with her as she recuperates from a fall. He is the “boy next door” that every mother longs for her daughter to fall in love with. Strong, honest, good-looking…need I say more?
And then there’s Sarah. An independent woman who is a professional organizer and owns her own business, she is determined to marry a like- minded professional, who can easily support himself and a family. And therein lies the conflict.
This story is written from a Christian perspective and Ms. Turansky does a good job in balancing the romance angle with the Christian perspective.
Moonlight Over Manhattan is a book you will enjoy reading and a story you will remember for a long time to come.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Moonlight Over Manhattan by Carrie Turansky is a novella set in New York during Christmas and is a great way to get yourself into the Christmas Spirit.
The two main characters, Justin and Sarah, meet by chance when Justin's grandmother Lillian has a fall in her apartment. Sarah takes care of Lillian's dog Molly, while Lillian is in hospital. When Justin shows up to take Molly back they discuss Lillian's cluttered apartment. One gets the impression she is a hoarder. When Justin discovers Sarah is a professional organizer, she is hired to get Lillian's apartment in order by the time she gets back from hospital. The author does an excellent job of introducing us to the characters and of presenting Sarah as a no-nonsense kind of gal who knows her job and does it well. But as "put-together" as Sarah is she does have a few insecurities and the author presents them well. Justin, on the other hand is clearly a strong Christian, but with a secret which we discover further in the story.
One issue that does need to be addressed bothered me through to the end of the story. It was the insinuation that while in hospital the doctor's discovered something strange in Lillian's blood. Right away one starts thinking this may be a very sad story that will bloom with romance and heartache, because of Lillian's supposed illness, bringing our two main characters together to support one another. Unfortunately, the subject is never addressed again. We are left wondering what the doctors found. So, as I said, I think this part of the story needs to be addressed.
Another aspect I found wanting was the assumed belief that everyone was a Christian. This is not done in real life, so it was not something that felt natural. I got the impression early on that Sarah was not a Christian and yet a few chapters in she is talking about her conversion to Christ. So this confused me somewhat. In addition, the actual relationship and growing attraction between Justin and Sarah felt forced. Justin's actions towards Sarah seem awkward and slightly creepy for someone who had just met her. And Sarah, while admittedly enamoured by his looks, makes it more than clear she is not interested. So when things changed between them it didn't feel right.
That said, the author is a very good writer who still manages to keep you reading and draws you into the story. The spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas are heavily featured and so it makes for a short read (it's only ten chapters) that will get you in the Christmas Spirit. The author is very good at placing the reader in the action and I could clearly see Lillian's apartment, New York at Christmas and the church service where Sarah has her epiphany. Despite a few inconsistencies, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it for your Christmas reading list.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I always love it when I find a new author, especially when they leave me wanting more. Sondra Kraak did just that with Such a Hope and I look forward to reading more from her.
Her characters are well developed and the story and plot line filled with twists and turns that make it impossible to put this book down. I loved Anna! So vulnerable and yet so strong in her faith, yet the author is not afraid to show us that even those strong in their faith have moments of despair and doubt. Tristan seems to be the complete opposite of Anna, to the point where he mocks her faith and yet respects her faith at the same time. His character is quite complex and it is a real treat to see how he discovers the truth about himself.
The plot line is something I've never encountered in a story before and I really liked it. Our heroine Anna prays and people are healed, yet as the story asks - what happens when healing doesn't come? Does the town turn on you? Do your friends stay your friends? Anna finds this out and more as she struggles to come to grips with the gift God has given her and the issue of faith in regards to healing.
The only thing that disappointed me about this book, was that I'm finished it! I actually miss the characters and hope to see them again. Kudos to Sondra Kraak! She is an author you should be watching.
Reviewer: Beverly Wallin
It was a special treat to read this historical, Christian love story about Tristan and Anna. It was spiritually uplifting and enlightening. The struggles were true to life. Anyone can identify their own struggles and learn from this story. The author, Sondra Kraak, took us in to Anna's and Tristan's emotional turmoil. Along with hardships, failures, and loss, hope, faith, and love fill this marvelous story. I can't wait to read more of her page turning books.
Reviewer: Carol A. Brown
I totally enjoyed this story; it was definitely a “feel good” story, or maybe I should say I felt good about how the story ended. Set in the Pacific Northwest before statehood, when it was still a “territory.”
Anna lost her mother when she was so young she hardly has memory of her. What memory she has might even be the result of her father’s stories about her mother. So she is understandably shaken when she unexpectedly loses her father. Unable to honor her father’s wish that she remain in Portland, she returns to Seattle, the only home she has known. She is a young single woman running a man’s “freighting” business in a male dominated society. She feels “different” from others. Growing up without a mother’s influence, she at times feels socially unskilled. She has the added difference of a vibrant, close relationship to God, and what appears to be a gift of healing. Hard to blend in when your gift makes you stand out. And then there is the issue of her land...and who really owns it. I didn’t find any “slow” spots in the plot. It kept you turning pages to find resolution!
Characters are well drawn. You fall in love with the “stand up guy,” Tristan, right along with Anna. I appreciated the tenacity of these two characters. And I rather liked the good folk of the community where Anna lives. Kraak’s characters have depth. Well, some of them don’t have depth and that is their issue! There always seems to be shallow, conniving people and thankfully, in this story, they get exactly what they deserve!
Technically the book was without errors such as typos and grammar errors that distract a reader from the story line.
The Christian worldview was evident throughout. The message of forgiveness and inclusion of those who may be different was very clear but also unobtrusive. The characters remained true to character and didn’t become preachy. I felt the author did a good job of presenting how highly sensitive people bump into a multitude of problems as a result of being able to “read” people, and feeling different, not included, or being included for the wrong reasons. She also did well at portraying how grief and anger at God can affect a person. These are real life issues people deal with.
Yes I would recommend this book to anyone enjoying a good romance or historical romantic fiction as well as to persons wrestling with the themes of grief, anger at God, high sensitivity issues and how they impact a person, as well as issues of inclusion/being different.
If God is good, there has to be a way through...even something as devastating as MS. I determined to find all the good I could along this path. Jesus knows His way around the wilderness--He has been there. He walks Through The Wilderness with us. These are some of the treasures I found.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
When I first started reading Through the Wilderness by Carol A. Brown I was immediately overwhelmed. Why? It felt like she had written the book just for me! As Carol described her symptoms of MS and her emotions that followed her diagnosis, I was taken back to the day I was diagnosed with an incurable disease and her words were like a balm to my soul. In fact, the first chapter was packed with so much that I could identify with (even though we had totally different diseases) I had to put the book down just to absorb and meditate on what I had just read.
The author lists the book as a devotional, but I would list it more as Christian Living/Self-Help because there is a lot of advice and wisdom in this book to help one get through those wilderness experiences we all go through in our journey with the Lord. Each chapter will take you through something the author has learned from the Lord in relation to her illness. The most impressive was her experience of how God spoke to her through clay and pottery. This spoke to me the most. At the end of each chapter are some of the most insightful questions I've ever seen in a book, that will no doubt bring you closer to examining your spiritual life and relationship with the Lord. Every chapter is followed by a beautiful prayer. It is the questions and the prayer, along with each individual chapter that make this book a "one-chapter a day" kind of thing. You need to sit and contemplate your journey in relation to the questions put before you.
I discovered through Carol's questions how remarkable her attitude was as opposed to my own when she received her diagnosis. While I felt like I had been punched in the gut when my diagnosis came, my reaction was one of, "Okay, that's one more thing to deal with...moving on." Carol on the other hand, decided that she wanted to learn everything the Lord could teach her through her disease. Thus began a time of prayer, meditation and contemplation.
She began to look at MS with a spiritual mindset. Something I failed to do. I never once thought there was something I could actually learn from my disease. Whereas Carol asked God for clarity on just about everything, to help her grow into the beautiful vessel (despite MS) He was creating. If you are struggling with where God has you (especially if it is in a place of illness) you need to pick up this book! Carol uses the analogy of the potter and the clay (Jeremiah 18) quite well. There are so many steps to take before we become the people God created us to be and sometimes we need to "sit on the shelf" like a clay pot. As Carol says, "Once a pot is formed it sits on the shelf. Then when it becomes leather hard, it is taken back to the wheel and trimmed to its final shape. This is a time when any carving or decorating is done. " She goes on to explain that the drying shelf is an essential preparation for the fire. And we need our times on the shelf! Because, as Carol says, "It helps us to be adequately prepared for the fire of our next assignment. And we need the fire so that we can become what we were designed to be!"
If you are going through a difficult time right now and you need the assurance that God is aware and working in your life, or you just need to hear from "someone who has been there", then I urge you to pick up a copy of Through the Wilderness, so that you can begin to see your trials through spiritual eyes and become the vessel God intends you to be!
Reviewer: Mary Hosmar
I picked up this book because the premise of recreating the ten plagues of Egypt was unusual and intriguing. And the story was just that. It had lots of twists and turns as any good thriller must. The characters were well developed and the action was non-stop.
However, I did find that the references to incidents which happened well before this story were a little disconcerting. Each time I came across one I thought I had missed an important part of the story and went back to look for it. I was not aware that Mr. Blumer had written a prior book with the same main characters. Nowhere in the notes was there any indication of this. The Tenth Plague is considered by the author as a stand-alone story. If so, why the many references to incidents from the past which added very little to this story? The characters’ anxieties and fears could have been explained in other ways which did not detract from the story line and leave the reader wondering.
This novel is also listed as Christian fiction and, as such, it needs the salvation message, but does the author not trust his readers to pick this up without repeating it over and over? If one can overlook these two points the story is worth reading.
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