April 4, 2015

Reviewing "Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie"

"Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie" by Jennifer Chiaverini is historical fiction based on the life of Mrs. Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, and her slave Jule.  A Missouri belle, Julie Grant rose to the pinnacle of Washington society as First Lady.  Unbeknownst to Grant's abolitionist followers Julie and Jule were together for 37 years. During the Civil War, Julie would travel with Jule and their four children to be near her husband's side.  However, Julie and Jule saw two different wars.  Even though Julie was speaking out for women's rights, she was still secretly keeping Jule as a slave.  Once the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Jule claimed her freedom and became a very successful businesswoman. 
While a lot has been written about The Grants, hardly anything has been written about Jule.  This book is the imagining of what life would have been like between to the two women in the midst of the Civil War era.  Jennifer Chiaverini, as always, does a wonderful job constructing the story of Julie and Jule's relationship.  It is a thought provoking read, with great insight into what may have been happening behind closed doors in such a prominent family. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a Civil War setting and strong female characters. 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Snuggle Time Devotions"

"Snuggle Time Devotions that end with a hug!" is a cute devotional book for kids with adorable illustrations and short daily devotions. Each day has an overall theme, a Bible verse, a rhyming story to accompany the verse, a "takeaway" section to examine what we have learned, an activity to go along with it, and a hug to complete the devotional time.
The book is very thoughtfully put together and is targeted toward preschoolers to help them get accustomed to spending a daily time with God.  The Bible stories sections are sometimes a little bit lacking in some of the details but they are written in a cute, rhyming way.  The activities are fun and add a good element to the devotional that gets the kids doing things with their hands. I would recommend this book to families with preschool aged kids looking to find a new way to learn about the Bible together.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review. 

April 3, 2015

Reviewing "Blessings for the Morning" by Susie Larson

"Blessings for the Morning", by Susie Larson, is yet another gorgeous, wonderful book created by this gifted author. I already own "Blessings for the Evening" and it's remained an important item in my nightstand ever since I received it. Similar to the first one, this book is full of amazing photos, wonderful Bible verses and lovely encouraging words, which makes it a perfect way to start your day.  Each day has a new photo and a new theme which will bless your morning and encourage you to live the life you've been called to live.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a daily devotional full of encouragement. It would also make a perfect gift for your loved ones for any special occasion.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Like a Flower in Bloom"

      "Like a Flower in Bloom", by Siri Mitchell is a pleasant novel set in Victorian Era England about a woman named Charlotte who has a love for Botany and has found fulfillment in assisting her Botanist Father. When a meddling relative comes to town and suggest that Charlotte needs to find a man and get married, her world is turned upside down. One of Charlotte's father's correspondents returns to town and her dad sees this as the perfect time to set Charlotte free from her job so she can find a man. She refuses to abandon her job without a fight and comes up with all kinds of ways to get her job back.  But as she spends more and more time with her father's new assistant, she finds herself not wanting to live life without him.
      I would recommend this book to people who enjoy the Victorian Era and have a fondness for plants and botany. There is a lot of scientific language in the book so if you want to learn a bit about botany, here's your chance!  The characters are also very likable and there is a lot of humor in the book which keeps the story entertaining.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Baker Publishing group in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "The Trouble with Patience"

      "The Trouble with Patience" by Maggie Brendan is a good example of well-written historical fiction. Set in a Montana Gold Rush boom town, the story is filled with lots of good thematic elements you'd expect to find in such a setting. Cowboys, cattle rustlers, romance, and angst combine to create a story you can't stop reading.
       Patience was gifted a bed and breakfast in her Grandmother's will and since her plans for her future seemed to be crumbling, she decided she to make a change in her life and renovate the dilapidated structure on her own.  Although she desired solitude and didn't have any friends to speak of, she quickly finds herself with some suitors in town who vie for her attention. There's a twist though, in that both men have secret things in their pasts that could threaten any hope of a long term relationship with Patience.
       I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction in a western gold rush setting with suspense and romance. It's an enjoyable book and will allow you to travel back to this fascinating era.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Mothering From Scratch"

     "Mothering from Scratch" by  Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo is a refreshingly honest book about being a mom. It doesn't set out to create perfect moms, but instead acknowledges that none of us are perfect and our kids aren't perfect.   The book provides wonderful tools to help us with issues we might struggle with while bringing up our kids, and reminds the reader that close relationships with Christ and with our husbands are key to being the best moms we can be.
      I like how the book approaches a lot of different topics, and emphasizes the different strengths and weaknesses we all have. It empowers moms to not worry about fitting into some perfect parenting style that someone else may have thought up, but rather to be the mom God created you to uniquely be.  In a culture today that focuses on pretending to be perfect on Facebook, and struggles to make our home life look like something found on a  Pinterest board, this book is a great take on motherhood that will cause moms across the country to breathe a collective sigh of relief.
    I would recommend this book to moms young and old who might like some encouragement, and some tools to make us stronger and more fulfilled overall.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "The Beekeeper's Son"

      "The Beekeeper's Son" by Kelly Irvin is a wonderful Amish Romance novel filled with suspense and drama. As you know from reading my other reviews, I am an admirer of Amish fiction. This book takes it to a whole new level to the point that I can't wait to read the rest of this new series.  Kelly Irvin has clearly outdone herself and gained a fan. 
      The main characters, Deborah and Phineas, have come to terms with the fact that their lives haven't quite turned out how they had planned.  As the go about their daily lives with the expectations that they are stuck where they are, they begin to find out that God's plan for their lives is much better than anything they could have thought up for themselves.  Only by working through the past and moving ahead, can they really experience what God has in store for them. 
   I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who likes Amish fiction with romance and suspense.  I didn't know that there were Amish communities in Texas and that added a new and interesting aspect to the book. I'm looking forward to reading the next one, and the one after that and after that. :)

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewing "Bonhoeffer Abridged"

      "Bonhoeffer Abridged" by Eric Metaxas is an amazingly insightful and moving biography.  The abridged version makes his story more accessible to the reader who might be overwhelmed by the extremely long original version.  I don't normally pick biographies as my reading material of choice, but this one drew me in very quickly.
      As Adolf Hitler rose to power, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was becoming a gifted and influential pastor. He had such strong faith and such enormous courage, he fearlessly became one of the first to speak out against Hitler.   He felt so strongly about the evil that was sweeping through Europe, he became a double agent and joined in the very dangerous plot to assassinate Hitler.
      Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of most interesting historical figures I have ever read about.  He was a very complex man and his story intrigued me from page 1.    He is a great example of someone who held onto his strong faith through the most extreme of difficult circumstances, spreading the gospel and standing up for truth all the way to the end of his life.  I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys history and is looking for a book that will move you. It's not light reading, but it's very well written.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.