Monday, January 8, 2018

Awaken: 90 Days with the God who Speaks

Awaken: 90 Days with the God who SpeaksThe choice of a devotional book is more personal than most. This kind of reading is not merely for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment. No, with this kind of resource you’re expecting and praying for something more. You want to hear from God, receive His direction, and be refreshed in the depths of your soul. Only God’s Word can do that.

So you need to choose wisely.

With her first devotional book, Priscilla Shirer makes your choice easy. For even though she’s written multiple best-selling books and Bible studies, including the 2016 ECPA “Christian Book of the Year” (Fervent), even though she regularly speaks to thousands at conference venues and churches around the world, even though she was the lead actress in a #1 box-office feature film (War Room) . . . It all starts for Priscilla where it all starts for you.

Alone with God. Alone with His Word. Eager to hear His voice. Prepared to humbly and obediently respond. She hopes, more than anything else, that the daily insights you receive in these pages will challenge, encourage, and strengthen you in every way.

These ninety devotions from the heart of a mom, wife, encourager, and friend will Awaken you each day with fresh insights gleaned from the Spirit of God. Ready to help you mine the treasures of Scripture and fortify you for the day ahead.

Priscilla Shirer is amazing so I knew this devotional would be the exact same.  I had just finished her Armor of God Bible study at church so I was really excited to pick this up.  I loved it, I really did.  However, the Armor of God study blew me away so I was hoping for just a bit more.  That is probably unfair because these are not meant to be meatly, long studies each day.  Even so, I would highly recommend this as a daily devotional, along with anything else Priscilla puts out there!

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

The Secret Mother

The Secret Mother 
‘Are you my mummy?’

Tessa Markham comes home to find a little boy in her kitchen. He thinks she’s his mother. But Tessa doesn’t have any children. 

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the child is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa comes under suspicion for snatching the boy. She must fight to prove her innocence. But how can she convince everyone she’s not guilty when even those closest to her are questioning the truth? And when Tessa doesn’t even trust herself… 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!  I'm a sucker for thrillers that revolve around a mother.  My heart just broke so much for Tessa I couldn't stop.  There's not a whole lot I can say, but while I understand some criticism that the twist wasn't hard to figure out, I really didn't care.  I was 100% invested with these characters.  I can't say I loved the ending, which was why this ended up being a 4-star read.  I will not hesitate to pick up a Shalini Boland book in the future!

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

When We Were Worthy

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

I have always been a fan of high school drama that sucks the whole town in and this book hit the mark!  This was a 5-star read for me and read very fast.  This felt very similar to Beartown by Fredrik Backman, but I liked this story better.  Marybeth Mayhew Whalen has become a favorite author of mine over the past several years and this story lived up to all the others I have read so far.  Another thing I really loved was it wasn't a long drawn out novel.  It achieved what it needed to in a shorter amount of pages than most books require.  I didn't feel like it dragged at any point.  I highly recommend this story to all types of readers.  
          * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Lie to Me

Lie to Me 
Sutton and Ethan Montclair's idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

This is my second J.T. Ellison novel and it was another solid story.  It was a psychological thriller that I would rank as average among other books in the same category.  Some parts of the story were confusing and forced me to suspend belief at certain points along the way which is not a favorite book trait for me.  What I love about psychological thrillers is the ability to twist a scenario to make it crazy, but believable.  Sutton and Ethan were both characters that weren't likeable or reliable so I can't say I was really cheering anyone on.  It was enjoyable for what it was, but can't say I would highly recommend this book to others.

     * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Pieces of Happiness

Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and ChocolateWhen Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat--Kat the adventurer, Kat who ran away to the South Pacific as soon as they graduated--has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?

Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they've been dealt. There's Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat's longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like "a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different." Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness. 

I must admit that I picked up this book because I thought the cover was gorgeous.  However, I went into this story thinking this was going to be one I fell in love with because, well CHOCOLATE! Unfortunately it didn’t quite land there for me. I’m a huge fan of books that explore the lives of older characters because I believe we can learn so much from them. However, I just didn’t know enough about them, about their friendship. It was hard to comprehend that these 4 women would come together overseas when I really knew very little about each one. I did enjoy the alternating perspectives which kept me engaged. I was also secretly hoping for a bit more chocolate to be involved. It was almost an afterthought. Sad to say this just was not the story for me.
* I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Wife Between Us

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

 I truly am not sure how to write a review of this book without giving anything away, which is exactly why the summary of this book is so small and tells you to assume nothing.  I suggest you take that advice: assume nothing!  The characters are unreliable and the story line is believable, which makes for an incredible story!  I am amazed at these two writers could put this together.  There were times I thought I knew what was going on, then I realized that's exactly what I was supposed to think.  However, I was wrong!  There were times when I wasn't sure what was happening, but I never felt lost.  If you enjoy a book that keeps you feeling unsettled and never want to put it down, then pick this one up!    

 * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *

As Bright As Heaven

As Bright as Heaven In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.

Once it begins, I never wanted it to end! And even after the book was over I wanted more… more of their lives, more of their stories, more of their hardships, more of their heartbreaks. This is not my first Susan Meissner novel, nor will it be my last. She has quickly become an author that every title she has written has been added to my TBR.

I loved that while set in a time period that is often written about, I have never read a book that explored the Spanish Flu. And while the Flu was central to the story, it was more about the characters and how their lives were changed and affected. Hands down a wonderful read with engaging characters. They were flawed, they had heart, they had me invested in their stories equally. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!