Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Emily thinks she’s lost everything…until a mysterious painting leads her to what she wants most in the world. The new novel from the author of international bestsellers The Sweetness of Forgetting and The Life Intended shows why her books are hailed as “engaging” (People), “absorbing” (Kirkus Reviews) and “enthralling” (Fresh Fiction).
Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was a just a kid, her mom died when she was seventeen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she’s laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea…until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother—and the painting arrived with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, “He always loved her.”

My thoughts-

I fell in love with Kristin Harmel's writing style when I read The Sweetness of Forgetting when it first came out. Since then, I am always on the look out for a new novel from her and as soon as one is available I have to read it immediately. I was so excited to see that her newest book is in my favorite historical fiction sub-genre, set in WWII. The book goes back and forth between that sad era in history and the present day. The main character Emily receives a package in the mail that she believes to be a painting of her grandmother which sets her off on a journey to find some answers. I always enjoy novels set in two different time periods because I think it adds more to the story and helps bring together the ending in a bigger way. Emily was abandoned by her dad and before that, her dad and his own mother were abandoned by Emily's grandfather. This painting leads Emily to answers about who her grandfather was ,what happened between him and her grandmother and gives her the opportunity to get to know her own father better. I read When We Meet Again in a two day span. It is a page turner. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

When We Meet Again will be available for purchase June 7, 2016. You can pre-order your copy today on Amazon.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

My thoughts-

Single mom Julia Dare has a lot on her plate. A brand new Christian, she's busy trying to run her own business, spend time with her widowed mother, and raise her young son, Max, despite his father's less-than-ideal influence on him. When a big account from her event-planning business sends her to the Caliente Springs resort, she's shocked to come face-to-face with Zeke Monroe, the resort's general manager and her college sweetheart.

With his faith in tatters, Zeke Monroe is determined to keep the historic Caliente Springs resort running despite financial difficulties. But when Julia walks back into his life, he can't ignore the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client's dream wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. When Zeke and Julia are pushed to their limits both personally and professionally, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?

My thoughts-

I was drawn into Someone Like You from the very beginning. Julia and Zeke are both easy to relate to, one who has come to faith as recently and one who grew up in the faith but it is now struggling. These characters seemed like they could be real people. Many of us have probably  wondered about a past love or maybe even have given an old flame a second go round, but even if not it is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the romance of these two characters both having pretty instantaneous feelings for each other upon their running into each other. Beyond the love story of Julia and Zeke, there are also other love stories in the book that are just as romantic, as well as some great humor. Some of my favorite parts of Someone Like You involve a goat named Ladybug. When she shows up, hilarity ensues! Like any good book there is also a villain and this guy is just the worst. Hunter is Julia's ex-boyfriend and the father of her child and as poorly as he treats her (and their son many times) it is difficult to see what she ever saw in him. I enjoyed that the book was set at a resort and that a big part of it was the staff planning a wedding. There is definitely a lot of mentioning of faith and loss of faith and restoration of faith in the novel and the ending may tie up everything a little too neatly that makes it lose a little of it's realness, but there are some great moments of  forgiveness, faith, and of course some swoon-worthy romantic scenes. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good love story.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Living Hope (Documentary DVD)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the dvd from Edify Media in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the movie- 

Living Hope is the story of three extraordinary individuals who have devoted their lives to serving the poor in South Africa.

John Thomas, a pastor who is leading his church to serve the sick, hungry, and dying in the communities that surround them. Journey beside John through the neighborhoods where they work, meet the people their ministry has impacted, and hear from his heart why they chose to make a stand for the poor.

Joey Lankford, a businessman and father of four who moved his young family from the United States to Cape Town. Journey beside Joey as he equips men and women with job skills, and leads them out of the bondage of poverty.

Leonie Rustin, a single mom and nursing assistant, who turned from a life of crippling drug addiction to follow Christ. Journey beside Leonie as she attempts to help other in her community unshackle the chains of addiction and prostitution.

My thoughts- 

There is nothing that touches my heart more than seeing people who devote their lives to helping other people. Most peole have probably heard of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, but the three people featured in this documentary have made it their life's work to take care of the people effected in South Africa by AIDS and by poverty. I liked that the documentary featured three different people because it showed how there could be three entirely different journeys with the same end goal, to help the impoverished and the ill. These three individuals come from three very different walks of life, all felt led by God to help with this ministry and while each of their journey's to get there and the roles that they play are completely different, together they make a huge different in the community for the Living Hope ministry. There was one especially touching story of a man who's wife needed to have an operation due to cancer that they could not afford and seeing what happened when a bunch of people, some from the other side of the world in the United States, came together in several small ways to make one big, life changing gesture. Living Hope gives us a glimpse into the lives of missionaries, of a pastor, and of a former addict with a common goal, to help people who really need their help. I would recommend this movie to anyone at all. I think it's one of those movies that everyone should see.

Connect with Living Hope on Facebook
Living Hope website

Watch the trailer below-

Thursday, May 12, 2016

When Calls the Heart: Troubled Hearts

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the movie from Edify Media in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the show-

When Calls the Heart the television series is inspired by Janette Oke's best selling book series about the Canadian West. The show is about Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) a young teacher born into high society and used to many creature comforts being thrust into her first teaching assignment in Coal Valley, a very small and simple coal mining town. Coal Valley has experienced a huge tragedy at the mines recently, leaving most of the town's women widoows. Lori Laughlin plays Abigail Stanton, one of the widows and Daniel Lissing plays Jack Thornton, the Constable who sees Elizabeth to town. Living in a turn of the century coal town, Elizabeth must learn to adjust to living in the rural west all on her own.

About the episodes- Elizabeth surprises Jack with a home of her own; Abigail learns of Gowen's latest greedy scheme; Frank's past catches up to him

My thoughts-

I am so glad Elizabeth and Jack are back to their lovey dovey selves after the tension in season 2! There is plenty of drama to go around in Hope Valley even when they are as happy as can be. Abigail has some trouble with Cody finishing his homework assignment at school and being rambunctious in general until Jack discovers the root of the problem. Meanwhile, Pastor Frank's past comes back to haunt him in the form of an old "friend" who happens to be in town. As always, there are laugh out loud moments when Lee and Rosemary
have scenes, which is a nice change of pace during all of the other drama that happens during the show. By the end of the dvd all of the big dramatic situations have been resolved, so it was nice not to be left hanging. 

When Calls the Heart: Troubled Hearts also included a couple of bonus features. One is a look at Jack's journey from the beginning when he came to Hope Valley all the way through the present and a great feature on the "Hearties" When Calls the Hearts devoted fan base. As a big fan of the show, it was nice to see an entire feature about what the fans bring to the show!




Watch the trailer -



Connect with When Calls the Heart-


When Calls the Heart is inspired by a series of novels by Janette Oke. You can find these novels on Amazon.com.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Little Chickies by Susie Jaramillo (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Little Chickies is based on "Los Pollitos Dicen" (Little Chickies Squeal), one of the most popular nursery rhymes in Spanish (as popular as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" is in English). A wonderful homage to a mother and her kids, the nursery rhyme centers on adorable baby chicks hatching from their eggs and crying out that they're hungry and their resourceful mama hen taking care of them.

Canticos has developed an innovative reversible design that offers the continuous original story in its native Spanish language one one side, and a new rhyming English language version on the other. A reader can read the story through one one side, get to the end, and flip the book to read the story in the second language. The English adaptation of the song is as catchy and lyrical as the Spanish version and sure to enchant new audiences not familiar with the original song. The book is also interactive, with lift-the-flap* and turn-the-wheel novelty features to encourage interaction and fine motor skills.

My thoughts-

Little Chickies is a fascinating way to introduce your little ones to the world of languages. Seeing the same book with words both in Spanish and English with precious pictures would help both the Spanish speaking child venturing into the word of English and a great way to introduce English speaking children to a new language and a new culture. I would love to see this become a series of books with other Spanish nursery rhymes featured. I absolutely recommend this book to any parent.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Only in Naples by Katherine Wilson (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher and Peter Mayle, this enchantingly warm and witty memoir follows American-born Katherine Wilson on her adventures abroad, where a three-month rite of passage in Naples turns into a permanent embrace of this boisterous city on the Mediterranean. It is all thanks to a surprising romance, a new passion for food, and a spirited woman who will become her mother-in-law—and teach her to laugh, to seize joy, and to love.


My thoughts-

I love reading books about people who have moved to foreign countries. I am an avid traveler and it is possible in my free time I day dream about high tailing it out of the States and moving to France or Switzerland. Since I can't do that I like to live vicariously through others and Naples sounded like a fantastic place to learn about. I  obviously enjoyed reading about the culture, the food, and the romantic notion of studying abroad, but what I loved more was learning about Katherine Wilson's family (THE Wilson family, as in the sporting goods company), and her in laws that she inherited as she fell in love in Naples. I enjoyed having a glimpse into  falling in love in Italy, having an Italian mother in law and coming together mainly through food for pretty much any situation. I am, also a sucker for books that include recipes at the end, so that really sealed the deal of my enjoyment of Only in Naples. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading about other cultures, Italy, food, or has ever considered moving abroad. It was a great read and I feel more acquainted with Naples than before. It has been added to my never ending list of places I must visit someday!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Gospel According to Ruth: A Season of Harvest 121 Days of Devotions by Kevin Foster (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

The Gospel According to Ruth: A Season of Harvest is an inspiring devotional that draws out many metaphors found in the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Leaving Moab to return to Bethlehem was not a journey made with much hope but God drew them to Bethlehem His house of bread to provide for them and all the world. Filled with Scriptural applications, this harvest-themed devotional will guide your soul on a 121-day passage. 

There are four major divisions within this devotional that explores the Christian calling, the Christian labor, the Christian rest and finally, Christian marriage in the Lord.

This devotional study in the book of Ruth has over 1000 related bible verses. The seven major feast of Israel are surveyed along with the Promised Land from Bethlehem, Jericho, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and the wilderness crossing.

Both Old and New Testament stories intersect the cross of Christ and come alive on the pages of this book.

This devotional also has a companion 58-page pocket book titled, Poems from The Gospel According to Ruth, along with an unabridged audiobook.


My thoughts-

When I reach for my Bible for encouragement often times I turn straight to Ruth. The book of Ruth has always brought me comfort, and Ruth has always been a role model for me to look up to for as long as I can remember. I have never seen a devotional quite like The Gospel According to Ruth. This book contains 121 days of Devotions all derived from the book of Ruth. I thought that I already had got all I ever could get out of Ruth, but this extensive study proved me wrong. I like that the devotional is meaty and not fluffy and light like many other devotionals tend to be. I also liked that at the end of each devotional there was a tie in to the lesson in Ruth, many times from another book of the Bible. I think Kevin Foster took the idea of a devotional on a specific book of the Bible and truly included every lesson to be learned. I enjoyed The Gospel According to Ruth and would recommend this book to anyone looking to be encouraged and strengthened.