Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hiding from my Kids in my Prayer Closet


Finding grace and laughter when motherhood gets real

Soon after Jessica Kastner became a mother, she wondered if she was the only mom who found pretend play more boring than watching playdough harden and who dreaded yet another friend’s Instagram post of homemade deliciousness.

In Hiding from My Kids in the Prayer Closet, Kastner shares her experience as an “unmom”—a mom who loves her kids more than she loves the daily experience of mothering. She helps readers laugh at the ridiculous, delight in the unpredictable, and enjoy being the mothers God made them to be.

My thoughts: While I didn't totally relate to Jessica with this book, I do feel like she hit the nail on the head at times and that this book is a fun addition to the genre. This book if for any mother who has felt out of her league navigating parenthood, mom groups, or the loneliness that comes with staying home with your little ones. While one might not be able to relate to everything, Jessica has a lot of truths in this book that help other (un)moms know they are not alone. I enjoyed what she had to say and the humor she said it with!
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Dream-Centered Life


Wake Up to Bigger Dreams!

Have you stopped pursuing the life of your dreams? Did someone or something steal the passions that made your heart beat fast?

It's possible--for the first time or once again--to become that wide-eyed, visionary dream-chaser!

It starts by realizing that God has specific, amazing plans for you. Once you discover what drives you at the deepest level, you'll overcome any barrier that stands between you and your new reality.

The Dream-Centered Life isn't about wishful thinking. It offers practical ways to be an effective dreamer, no matter where your starting point. Through personal experiences and fresh insights from world-class dreamers, Luke Barnett discusses these and other topics:

- Where do dreams begin?
- Characteristics of a dreamer
- Habits of dreamers
- Dream lifters
- Dream busters
- Dreaming with confidence

Are you ready to discover--and live--your God-sized dream?

My thoughts: I needed this book! I love how it offers encouragement to help the reader hone their dreams and go after the ones that are from God's own heart. I think that this is a great book to read for personal dreams, but I also felt like it was a wonderful book to read as a parent, to help one encourage the dreams in your children.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

The Essential Guide to Prayer


Life-Changing Teaching on Prayer from One of the Topic's Leading Authors

Based on years of ministry and experience, international prayer leader and bestselling author Dutch Sheets presents a real-world, hands-on foundation for prayer. With wisdom and practical insight, he helps you develop the core of an effective prayer life: a stronger, lasting relationship with God as Father and friend. He also shows you how to:
· make prayer a vital part of your life
· pray alone and in groups
· persist in prayer until you see God's answers
· become a powerful intercessor for those you love
· and more!

He even includes questions at the end of each chapter to help you immediately implement what you're learning.

"This book is really for all prayer warriors, whether just beginning or advanced."--Cindy Jacobs

My thoughts: I feel like the first title for this book, The Beginner's Guide to Prayer was probably a bit more fitting, since the book goes over prayer by intercession, how to pray for others or for others to pray for you. The stories from his personal ministry and life were interesting, though some of them felt a bit like rabbit trails. Over all, it was an easy read and had some interesting points, but I wouldn't agree that it is the essential guide to prayer.
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Women Who Move Mountains


Infuse Your World--and Your Heart--with God's Life-Giving Power

Amid our packed schedules and life's curveballs, our hearts long for more. We want to live and love well; we want to be a source of joy and life. The good news is that you can--and the secret is found in the simple act of prayer.

Prayer was never meant to be a recitation of requests, but rather a drawing close to the heart of God. When you learn to exchange the obstacles of life for the promises of God, you will pray with passion and confidence rather than fear or insecurity. From this place of surrender and intimacy, you will discover what it means to become a powerful, effective woman of prayer--a woman whose life overflows with springs of living water that transform not only her own life, but the world around her.

With study questions and journaling exercises included, this is the perfect book to go deeper either on your own or with a group.

My thoughts: This was an excellent book for me to read on my own, but I can see it making an exceptional study group book! I enjoyed the depth that I found. I enjoyed how Sue talks about the different prayers and goes deeper into the differences. This is an excellent book to read on your own or with a group!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Take Ten: New books that are tempting me



1. The Two of Us

Heartwarming and Touching New Contemporary Romance from Victoria Bylin

After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.

Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.

Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

2. Chasing Secrets

Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.

3. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore

The year is 1818, the city is London, and 16-year-old Annis Whitworth has just learned that her father is dead and all his money is missing. And so, of course, she decides to become a spy.

Annis always suspected that her father was himself a spy, and following in his footsteps to unmask his killer makes perfect sense. Alas, it does not make sense to England’s current spymasters—not even when Annis reveals that she has the rare magical ability to sew glamours: garments that can disguise the wearer completely.

Well, if the spies are too pigheaded to take on a young woman of quality, then Annis will take them on. And so she crafts a new double life for herself. Miss Annis Whitworth will appear to live a quiet life in a country cottage with her aunt, and Annis-in-disguise as Madame Martine, glamour artist, will open a magical dressmaking shop. That way she can earn a living, maintain her social standing, and, in her spare time, follow the coded clues her father left behind and unmask his killer.

It can’t be any harder than navigating the London social season, can it?

4. 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?

5. The Hazel Wood

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong . .

6. Over Maya Dead Body

FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha's Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn't take a vacation, and she's soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.

When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications--and even a secret or two?

7. The Austen Escape

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

8. Portrait of Vengeance

Gwen Marcey has done a good job of keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here?

No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, her ex-husband back home is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter.

As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

9. Uninvited

The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ's powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:
Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt. Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence. Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging. Stop feeling left out and start believing that "set apart" does not mean "set aside." End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

10. Internet Famous

Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.

Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything—and everyone—she loves?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dark Deception


Mehl Ramps Up the Suspense in This Brand-New U.S. Marshals Series
Mercy Brennan followed in her father's footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she's assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis's most powerful gang.
When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent--a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy's ex-boyfriend--to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety.
Initially unaware of the danger she's in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy's frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn't until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive--if help is even coming at a


New Edge-of-Your-Seat Read from an Established Romantic Suspense Author
Kate O'Brien has been leading a quiet life in small-town Shelter Cove, Arkansas, for the past four years when her past suddenly comes roaring back to life. Four years ago, she and her twin sister were attacked by an elusive serial killer. Only Kate survived, and it was her drawing of the attacker--along with some last-minute evidence--that convicted the suspect.
She's been in witness protection ever since, but new evidence suggests the convicted man isn't the murderer and she's been subpoenaed to testify in the new trial. Nervous about the risk, she'll only agree if the same marshal who protected her during the original trial escorts her to St. Louis.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Tony DeLuca accepts the assignment to bring Kate to the trial, remembering how her strength impressed him. While in Shelter Cove, however, he gets a call from his chief, advising them to stay in Shelter Cove until a new development in the case can be straightened out. But when Kate's safety is threatened, Tony must race against the clock to keep her alive and put this ugly case to rest before anyone else gets killed.

My thoughts: I read both "Defenders of Justice" books last week (yes, they were that hard to put down!), which was kind of fun to do, since some of the characters from the first book show up in the second one (but, not in a way that leaves these unable to stand alone). But, now I have to wait for the third book to come out!
Anyway, I enjoyed how the mysteries are quite different from one another. While the first one is suspenseful, since you have no idea who the cartel has in their pocket (and, there are quite a few surprises!), the second one is a different sort of suspenseful, since the mystery keeps the reader guessing until the very end. I highly recommend them both! Though, perhaps be sure you have a clear schedule, since you will need to be able to drop everything to finish the stories.;)
I received these books from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

On Love's Gentle Shore


Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O'Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose's Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can't possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane--the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin's never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He'd been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He's done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him--but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he's been missing.

After Natalie's reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin's property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness--and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

My thoughts: I enjoyed the return to Prince Edward Island and catching up with the characters from this series who feel like old friends. The series is a lot of fun and I love the taste of island life/culture! I also enjoyed the introduction of Justin and Natalie and their history together, and how that fit in with the present and her hopes for a future with Russell.
This is an excellent series about dreams, love, and finally finding a place to belong.
I received this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.