Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck


  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (June 12, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310351006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310351009

About the Book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a story of long-lost love and its redemption in future generations.
Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.
When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.
Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.  
Set in stunning upcountry South Carolina, The Love Letter is a beautifully-crafted story of the courage it takes to face down fear and chase after love, even in the darkest of times. And just maybe, all these generations later, love can come home in a way not even Hollywood could imagine.

My Thoughts:

When I finally stop crying, I'll write my review.

For now, I'll allow the five stars and shelf choice speak to the fabulous-ness of "The Love Letter".

************************

Okay, I'm ready, emotions under control!

"The Love Letter" is another powerful novel from one of my all-time favorite authors, Rachel Hauck. It's an epic love story that covers centuries and follows the lives of two couples:

Hamilton and Esther, during the Revolutionary War, and Jesse and Chloe, from the Hollywood of today. Their individual and collective journeys speak to powerful love, heavy guilt, and the power of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. 

Esther is growing up in what will become the United States, but has family roots in England. When war comes calling, her family is on the side of the King, while her true love fights for the colonies. 

Chloe is Hollywood royalty, and has been typecast as the "actress who always dies". Her life is filled with heartbreak and regret. Jesse has just written and sold his first script, and is carrying his own heavy regret. 

How the two couples are connected is a plot I won't spoil, and how their futures turn out. . .yeah, no spoilers on that, either. 

I have loved Rachel Hauck's novels for a very long time, and her royal love stories were captivating. I couldn't imagine loving any book more, and then she wrote "The Wedding Dress", and continued to write magical stories about weddings and loves both lost and found. 

How could she ever top those stories? By writing an epic tale titled "The Love Letter", and may I just say, "Wow!", and "Stock up on tissues!"

(I also highly recommend "The Writing Desk", her "Low Country Romance" series...oh, just read all of her books!)

I received an advance copy with no services promised in return. 

Until the next page turns,

Deena

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Raising Passionate Jesus Followers by Phil and Diane Comer



  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 6, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310347777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310347774

About the Book:

For Christian parents, there is no greater joy than seeing their children learn to walk with the Lord. And there is no greater fear than that their children will walk away from God.
After serving together in pastoral ministry for forty years, Phil and Diane Comer know those hopes and fears well. Thirty-seven years ago, they became parents themselves. And like all new parents, they were intimidated and unsure about how to take on the task of spiritually training their young children.
Now, with all four of their children grown and establishing their own households of faith, Phil and Diane have embarked on a quest to help the next generation of parents raise passionate Jesus followers. Drawing on years of pastoral counseling, teaching, leading, and decades of watching families from the perspective of pastors and leaders in ministry, Phil and Diane instruct, guide, encourage, and offer hope and practical help to Christian parents.
Raising Passionate Jesus Followersis a manual full of practical, biblically based guidelines that parents will be able to turn to again and again through each stage of their children’s development. Starting at birth, into grade school, through the daunting teenage years, to launching them into college, and finally letting go, this book contains the why’s and the how’s parents need. This book will serve as an invaluable resource for any parent whose greatest longing is to shepherd their children into a vibrant faith in God.

My Thoughts:

To be honest, I'm not sure why I wanted to read this book.  My children are all grown on on their own.  My years of raising them are, for the most part, over.  Our oldest has five children of her own, but she's not a reader, and our other two married daughters are still waiting for God to bless them with babies of their own.

"Raising Passionate Jesus Followers" sounds like an impossible dream.  Young people are leaving the church as soon as they gain their independence, and it doesn't matter which denomination they were raised in--it's happening.  It can feel discouraging if we allow it to color our faith.

But after reading Phil and Diane Comer's book, I can see the areas where we did our best and the areas in which we could have done more.  This book gave me hope for future generations of young families and young Christians.

The Comer's follow the Biblical model of the family, with the father being the head and the wife submitting to the husband's leadership.  That might leave a sour taste in the mouths of some, but after reading this book you can see that it WORKS!  Diane is no wimpy wallflower of a woman.  She is strong, intelligent, and has her own thoughts and opinions.  She CHOOSES to submit because she believes in God's Word and trusts that God knows best.

That one decision makes a tremendous difference in how the Comers raised their children.  A huge difference.  What follows is a roadmap of success and failure and what the Comers learned about raising children passionate about Jesus--not the church, or their doctrine, or even God's Word.  Passionate about JESUS.

(And yes, I know Jesus is The Word--but you get my drift I hope!)

Phil and Diane Comer don't hide their mistakes.  Rather, they share areas they believe could have been handled in a more Biblical manner, and their counsel is applicable and realistic.  It would be easy to read their book and feel you are/were a poor parent--don't allow the enemy to do that to you!  We all are imperfect, but we love The Perfect One, and He can take our flubs and make them fabulous learning experiences.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of "Raising Passionate Jesus Followers", with no services promised in return.  I'm giving this book four out of five stars.

Until the next page turns, 

Deena

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala with Ann Spangler




  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 27, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310351170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310351177

About the Book:

By New York Times bestselling author and pastor Jim Cymbala, The Rescue tells the powerful, true stories of men and women whose lives should have ended badly but miraculously didn't. Something unexpected happens to each of them and their incredible stories will take you by surprise and restore your hope.

My Thoughts:

We live in such a cynical, angry, and jaded world right now.  It is difficult to stay encouraged and to have hope when everything appears so bleak.

"The Rescue" by Jim Cymbala (with Ann Spangler) tells the true stories of seven people who were rescued in ways that can only be attributed to God. This little book provides hope and evidence that God is still on the move, despite what we see all around us.

Lawrence Punter was the little boy no one loved.  He ended up alone, sleeping in alleys on filthy mattresses and feeling his life wasn't worth anything. But God showed up for Lawrence and transformed his belief about himself and gave him a platform to share his story with those trapped by those same feelings.

Robin makes her home in Israel and is the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants who fled the persecution and destruction of Russia.  Today, her life is filled with joy and purpose and hope.  But she has a story of darkness and despair that dogged her until God came and blew those clouds away.

Five more people share their incredible stories of being rescued by the God who sees, the God who moves mountains, and the God who restores.  I enjoyed read "The Rescue" and I think you will as well.  That's why I'm sending my thanks to the publisher for my copy with nothing promised in return, and giving this book four out of five stars.

Until the next page turns, 

Deena

Friday, May 25, 2018

Laugh Out Loud by Allia Zobel Nolan


  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: AlliaWrites (February 15, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692076190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692076194

About the Book:

Remember ironing your hair? Rolling it in soda cans to straighten it? Lacquering it with enough spray that it could ward off bullets? Ever slather on cement-colored lipstick so heavy, you looked like a zombie princess? Remember hot pants and platform heels? The danger of patent-leather shoes? Were you a secretary, nurse, or teacher, but only, as our mothers urged us, until you found “Mr. Right?”

In her new book, LAUGH OUT LOUD: 40 WOMEN HUMORISTS CELEBRATE THEN AND NOW…BEFORE WE FORGET, Allia Zobel Nolan and 40 funny ladies from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop chronicle these blips in time as they look back at life in the past lane. Zobel Nolan and the other dancing queens then fast forward to today and write about what it’s like to blink and wake up to be 50, 60, 70, and beyond

—experiences ranging from cremation ceremonies to marrying younger men, from senior online dating to finding yourself a menopausal maniac in Mexico.

My Thoughts:

I became acquainted with Allia Zobel Nolan through her amazing children's books.  Nolan always collaborated with brilliant and talented illustrators and crafted books I consider treasured keepsakes.

Then I picked up a copy of "Laugh Out Loud", and I've discovered something new about Allia Zobel Nolan: she's REALLY funny!  Her newest book is a collection of essays that were written about pretty much anything and everything.

Part One is filled with memories from the 'good old days', tales from the 50's, 60's and 70's--and those are decades, not ages, by the way!  My favorites were "When We Were Fashionistas", reminiscing about styles and fashion from decades gone by (some from before I was born, but my mom experienced), and "Princess With a Lot to Lose Learns a Lesson", written by Nolan herself.

That one had me laughing so hard I woke up our snoozing pooch on the sofa!

Part Two flashes forward to the decades of today, and deal with topics of aging, death, and what it's like to see so many things change so quickly.  I snorted out loud when I read "What a Way To Go".  We've been having that debate in our home lately: burial vs. cremation.  This story puts a whole new spin on the debate!  "A Breathless Encounter" was one I could totally relate to...and I'll probably have flashbacks in the dressing room after reading this essay on body shapers.  That's modern speak for girdles and corsets...oh, my!

A few of the stories in the book have a little bit of language that some might not care for, and one story discusses a scenario ala Tinder that might raise a few eyebrows.  My hope is that you'll buy a copy of "Laugh Out Loud" and actually find yourself LOL--just skip over what doesn't float your boat, because there's plenty of excellent writing in "Laugh Out Loud".

I'm giving "Laugh Out Loud" four out of five stars, and my thanks to the publisher for my advance copy, with no services promised in return.

Until the next page turns, 

Deena

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Falling For You by Becky Wade



  • Series: A Bradford Sisters Romance
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764219375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764219375

About the Book:

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family's small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin--and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he's never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he's determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they're forced to confront their past and who they've become--and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.


My Thoughts:

Becky Wade took a huge leap of faith in the first book of The Bradford Sisters series. She took her expertly crafted romantic side and merged it with a new mysterious side. In between she sandwiched some of the best and most realistic characters I've met in some time. 

She's done it again with "Falling For You", and I enjoyed this book twice as much as her first. Considering how much I loved "True To You", that's saying something! 

Wade has mastered the genre of romantic suspense and done it her own way: heavy on the romance, mildly suspenseful, and liberally sprinkled with faith and fun.  And let me just say...Charlotte alone makes this novel worth the read!


I just can't tell you why--you'll have to read it to find out!  I'm giving "Falling For You" five out of five stars, and sending my thanks to the publisher for my advance copy with nothing promised in return.

I adore the Bradford sisters, and I can hardly wait to see Britt finally realize. . .oops, almost wrote a spoiler!



Until the next page turns, 

Deena

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrell


  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718075706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718075705

About the Book:

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:

Sorry.

**

Can't type. 

**

Many tears.

**

Heart too full.

**

So, exquisitely good.


Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system, may I just say that Lindsay Harrell is a fantabulous author?  "The Heart Between Us" is another sister story, but unlike the others this one has a special twist.  Megan has been fighting heart failure for most of her adolescence, while her sister Crystal has been able to do all the things Megan hasn't.

Life changes drastically when Megan receives a heart transplant.  At least, it should have.

But both sisters are cemented in the roles they've played for a lifetime.  It takes the journal of a dead girl and a bucket list from beyond to shake up the sisters and to set them free to really live.  


"The Heart Between Us" also deals with the fact that, for someone to receive an organ transplant, someone else has to die.  Reading about Megan's emotional journey really drove home the sacrifice that saved her life, and made me think about the incredible gift that's given with organ donation.

I'm very impressed with Harrell's ability to tell a heart-string-tugging story, and I'm giving "The Heart Between Us" four out of five stars.  My thanks to the publisher for my advance copy with no services provided in exchange!

Until the next page turns, 

Deena

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt



  • Series: Thatcher Sisters
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (May 8, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1496427246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496427243

About the Book:

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine―as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside her opinionated oldest sister, Johanna, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope that a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them . . . until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans and her future. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.


My Thoughts:

A good writer hooks you with the first line.

A great writer holds your attention until the very end.

An excellent writer captures your heart and draws you into the story.

Beth K. Vogt is a gifted writer: hooking you, holding you, drawing you, and ultimately changing you.

Things I Never Told You is a tale of four sisters, relationships, and secrets. Dynamics, dysfunction, and destruction transform into hope, healing, and wholeness. More than anything else, this is the story Beth was born to tell.


But, man!  This must have been excruciating to write!  The sisterly drama is so authentic I could hear the echoes of my own daughters' voices in the dialogue.  And, having grown up with two very older, very different sisters, I felt drawn into the story in a way that often had me in tears.

That's a good thing, by the way!


Fair warning, reading friends!  Buckle up for "The Thatcher Sisters" series...it's going to be a bumpy ride...but such an enjoyable and, dare I say it, a healing one for many of us?  "Things I Never Told You" gets five out of five stars from me.

Now I'm off to make sure my journals haven't been read by you-know-who (her name begins with Beth!)

Thank you to the publisher for my advance copy, with no services provided in exchange.


Until the next page turns, 

Deena
 

Just One More Published @ 2014 by Ipietoon