Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Covered Deep


Title:  The Covered Deep
Author:  Brandy Vallance
Pages:  403
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Worthy Publishing
She must win the contest.  Bianca Marshal has entered a writing contest with the winner receiving an all-expense paid trip to the Holy Land.  Bianca now lives in rural Ohio and the year is 1877.  She is 25 years old and her mother is hounding her to marry anyone, but make it soon!  Bianca is holding out for a love match, but in her small town her choices are limited.  She just knows that if she can win this contest, God is going to lead her to meet her future husband somewhere along the way.  She does win the contest along with three others.  She travels to England to meet her host.  She also meets the three winners.  She meets one man in particular who immediately garners her attention and affection.  As the trip progresses, she falls more and more in love with Paul.  He appears to be the perfect man for her and Paul feels the same for Bianca.  However, Paul has a devastating secret that he is keeping from Bianca.  It is something that happened over two years ago before he became a Christian.  He hopes Bianca will never find out, but their host for the trip is constantly saying or doing something that aggravates Paul so he contemplates leaving the tour.  What would Bianca think of him if she were to ever learn his secret?
This story plumbs the depths of forgiveness and presses the limits of faith.  Can Bianca’s proclaimed faith stand up against deception and cruelty?  Can she truly forgive as she has said she would?  It has a very interesting premise that partially remains hidden for most of the story.  The host of the trip is a very desperate, lonely and manipulative man.  He has done many criminal acts, but this time he has put himself in the position of observing how the four contest winners interact with each other.  They each share a connection, but how?  You’ll have to pick up a copy of the book to find out, but I’ll tell you it is very intriguing how the author has assembled the cast of characters and how the plot plays out.
My rating is 4 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Friday, May 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley


Title:  In Firefly Valley (Texas Crossroads Book #2)
Author:  Amanda Cabot
Website:  https://www.sff.net/people/amanda.cabot/
Pages:  368
Year:  2105
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 4 stars out of 5.
When I started reading In Firefly Valley, I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not.  At first, it seemed to be uneventful with a lack of adventure or excitement.  I pressed through till the end and I am glad I did as the plot began to thicken along with some adventure and suspense.  While romantic novels aren’t usually my first choice, every now and again I look into one to discover what is behind the cover.
Amanda Cabot’s series allows readers to peek inside the heart and lives of the fictional characters and town in the Texas Crossroads series.  When I started book two, I hadn’t read the first book in the series, which at times would handicap a reader’s appreciation for the story.  However, this book was an exception.  Amanda includes enough information about the prior events in the characters’ lives to help readers move along to the current setting.
Much of what the story brings is how forgiveness and moving forward takes time.  Another theme is focusing on how to help others and the fact that it takes more than one to accomplish the follow through of taking a dream and making it a reality.  I think too it shows clearly that money isn’t the answer to what our hearts desire, but really what we do want is a close walk with the Lord.  I also liked the one character who remained faithful to her husband even when he left her years prior as we as her continual prayer for him.
The novel is one that is good for a couple afternoons or evenings to serve as a relaxing escape.  It points to the Lord consistently as the One we really need above anyone.   I think the challenge some may face is looking at their relationships or marriage and comparing it with this or any work of fiction.  If any reader sees a character quality or a reflection in the book or what they desire to be their reality, pray and leave it with the Lord.
Like the book reflects in a fictional way, we all have a part or job to carry that God has for us.  It is what brings Him glory and us ultimate fulfillment.  Thanks to Amanda Cabot readers can put their feet up and enjoy a Christian work of fiction.
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus

Title:  Shadow of the Mountain (Exodus Book #1)
Author:  Cliff Graham
Website:  http://cliffgraham.com/
Pages:  304
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 5+ stars out of 5
Simply put the novel was thrilling, exhilarating and tantalizing!  Sometimes when reading a work of fiction based on a person referenced in the Bible the story comes up short of any semblance of reality.  Here though readers must dig in their heels and travel back to a time when a man named Caleb lived and fought for Yahweh.
There is very little known about Caleb in the Bible, so the author’s book is purely fictionalized as far as how Caleb lived his life before the Exodus.  However, the ancient ways and living conditions come through as they should be very realistic, not masking over the brutality that was part of daily life and death in the ancient world.
The one lesson or should I say challenge I came away with is to think less of retirement, awaiting death and more of being an active participant in God’s plan.  In the story, Caleb is being sought by his nephew to share his stories even though most of them are included in the sacred writings.  Nothing though replaces hearing and reliving history through the voice of the loved one listened to.  Here too we are challenged again to take time to hear the stories from the past of tragedy, sorrow, triumph and joy.  These stories all had the single purpose of hearing how the Lord worked, changed people and turned something meant to be evil into good for His glory.
I sure hope many take time to read a fresh approach to sharing fictional tales.  I couldn’t help but become engrossed in Caleb’s fictional life, envisioning him telling the next generation of what he lived through.  I truly look forward to the next installment in this series.  Though I am not sure who the main character will be, I truly believe it will again capture my imagination!
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible

Title:  How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible
Author:  Keith Ferrin
Website:  http://keithferrin.com/
Pages:  160
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 4 stars out of 5
As I sat down one night to read this nonfiction book, I wondered what I was going to encounter because I needed some encouragement.  Well, in some of the book I felt encouraged and in other areas challenged, which is also something that helps me grow in Christ.  Some of what the author shared via his 10 tips I was actually already doing, but my journey to learning the tips was different.
There are a total of 10 tips and then something I didn’t expect…an accompanying Bible study after each chapter to help guide readers in going deeper.  In other words, the book is not just reading the 10 tips but includes helpful questions to spur thinking as to how each of us can put whatever God highlights for us into practice.
I thought the author made an excellent point of how we as Christians tend to not discuss or look forward to reading the Word, but spend a lot of time avoiding it or complaining about reading the Book.  His reasons for why we tend to do that I thought were something most people can identify with along with the fact the author owns his own failings to read consistently.  I think when we come to a place where we are ready to change books like this one help us learn some ways we never thought of or forgot.
One thought the author mentions was how to laugh or have fun with God, not in an unholy way but like we do with our human relationships.  This was a new concept to me and I am not sure I am able to exactly do that not because I don’t laugh but due to more of deep joy I receive when I sense He has spoken to me via His Word.  I think of my relationship with God as being on a different plane than my human relationships, though I can see why he uses this analogy in the book.
So, for me, like most books I glean what I sense God wants me to know at the moment I am reading or meditating on what I learned as I read.  That which doesn’t apply now or maybe never I just let go of and take each day as God gives.  I hope you read discerningly and with an open heart too!
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/.  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457