Posted in Book reviews, Tessa Afshar, Tyndale House

“Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar ~ Book Review

 

Thief of Corinth

 

“Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar

Biblical Fiction

Review copy through Tyndale Review Program

My Rating: 5+ out of 5 Stars

About the book:

 

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

My thoughts:

Oh, what to say about another Tessa Afshar novel? If you’ve followed my reviews, or reading habits in general, you probably know Tessa Afshar is one of my most favorite authors, and I am always soooo very excited for a new novel of hers. And of course, this was no exception! I will always read a story by Tessa Afshar. Always. Her Biblical Fiction is the best, and always uplifts me, encouraging me in my walk with Christ.
I so enjoyed reading “Thief of Corinth” – the first person style once again fits perfectly, and I loved Ariadne – she was real, and that showed in every aspect.
I was drawn into the story immediately, and it was nearly impossible to set down. Not only captivating, but full of meaning. The over-arcing message of love was beautifully portrayed. The story worked up to that message, setting the foundation for Ariadne’s vast need of His love.
Eeeek, just all so beautiful!! I was very touched by Paul’s words (Ms. Afshar really does a superb job in bringing this apostle to life!), and how Ariadne grew. None of it was forced; everything felt natural and realistic, and absolutely encouraging. I love the importance put on love. <3
Everything about the book is well-done. The setting, the characters, the plot – it all blends together to create this breathtaking piece of a story that you are so drawn in to that you won’t want it to be over.  I definitely wanted more. ^.^ Annnnnd, I did indeed catch the hint that we’ll possibly be seeing more of Theo, so that is most exciting, because I love these characters!
I just really, really loved “Thief of Corinth”, and can’t wait to reread it! Waiting for another TA book will be hard though. ;)
Definitely recommend this one!!!
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Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

“The Masterpiece” by Francine Rivers ~ Book Review

 

 

Review copy from Tyndale Publishers 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
About the Book:
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship―and both their lives―forever.

My Thoughts:
 
I may not have read  all of Francine River’s books, but I know that, by picking up one of hers, I will be guaranteed an excellent and deeper read.
Right from page one, I was drawn into “The Masterpiece”, and was not keen to stop when life required it. ;)
It is such a realistic read, with real struggles. The author doesn’t tip-toe around the harsher things in life. And yet she still weaves it in a tasteful way.
Both main characters, Roman and Grace, suffered pretty horrible and traumatic childhoods. And our childhood does shape us into how we deal with life as an adult. I feel that it was portrayed very well in this book. Reading about their trauma’s was heart-wrenching. I felt for these characters as if they were real people.
The message of Christ was also very realistically and beautifully shown. It was very poignant, and touching.  I also liked the morals Grace upheld, even when it was difficult. Yes, she’s made mistakes, but all Christians do.  And in everything, she still fought to keep God at the forefront.
Roman’s journey was an important one. I was so happy to see his conclusion, and the things God brought him to. Very cool.
Despite that this is a bigger book, I actually think there could have been a bit more at the end – I wasn’t quite ready for it to come to its finish. However, it was nicely done. Just wanted more, as you do with many a good book. :)
One small thing that kind of bugged me was some of the ways Grace raised her son, Samuel – she was an excellent mother, but she didn’t have a problem leaving him with people she didn’t know after moving to a new place, or letting him cry because he was apart from her, etc. I realize that these are just different parenting-things and different views, however, it is also true that leaving our children to people we do not know, could result in abuse.  That wasn’t included in this book, but it bothers me when people are casual about leaving children in unknown situations. As well as the fact that society (even churches) push parents to leave their kids with others.
Otherwise Grace was a very loving mother.
The graffiti-art aspect of this novel was terrific. I found it very fascinating, and the whole thing just worked together greatly.
I very much enjoyed this novel. :) It was a very powerful book that I look forward to reading again!
*This book is geared more for mature-readers. As I said, the author doesn’t skirt certain issues. Topics of abuse, death, sex, etc. are involved.
Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Tyndale House

“Until We Find Home” by Cathy Gohlke ~ Book review

 

“Until We Find Home” by Cathy Gohlke

A WWII novel

Review copy from Tyndale Review Program

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing―spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends―has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.

Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

 

This was an interesting book. There were parts that I liked, and parts that I didn’t care so much for.
I couldn’t connect with main character Claire Stewart for most of the book. I disliked her quite a bit for the first half. Her selfishness was just blinding, and not an attractive trait. I found that very aggravating. Once we got to know her background a little bit more towards the second half of the book, it was easier to understand her a little, but I still didn’t really connect with her. But it was a helpful reminder to be patient with kiddos and treat them with love. “Be patient with all men”, as the Bible says.
I liked her aunt, Miranda. Though sometimes she showed a touch of self-centeredness too. Not a whole lot, it was just sometimes alluded to in her younger days.
 I did feel for Miranda in her own struggles, and was glad to see her motherly attitude towards the children.
 Claire’s inward-focus wasn’t really resolved at the end. It was just shown as how she was, end of story, which was kind of disappointing. I did appreciate her journey to accepting God’s love for her, though. It is easy to know that God loves this person or that person, but sometimes it’s harder to believe it for oneself. So that aspect was good.
The ‘hero’ of this book, David, was a strong character and very beneficial for the children especially, but he wasn’t in the majority of the book.
“Until We Find Home” is told through various points-of-view, including Claire, Miranda, their housekeeper Mrs. Newsome, Little Aimee, Gaston, and Josef, so it wasn’t just focused on one or two characters, but it worked pretty well for this story.
The refugee children were all just darling. I loved Gaston particularly, and little Aimee was such a doll.
And I really liked how they helped the children continue to celebrate their Jewish roots, knowing it was important to them. David was the instigator for that. He really was the children’s advocate, gentle and strong as he was.
There were several plotlines that, to me, have been overdone and I didn’t find it very believable in all points. I skimmed some of it just because it was overly predictable.
The little glimpses we got to see into Beatrix Potter’s and C.S.Lewis’s lives were very interesting, though not at strong as I was originally expecting. Still, it was good.
Because of disliking Claire, and not caring for some of the plotline, I didn’t love this book, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Book Review: “Freedom’s Ring” by Heidi Chiavaroli

Toothless Books (10)

“Freedom’s Ring” by Heidi Chiavaroli

Historical/Contemporary Fiction

Review copy through Tyndale Blogger Program

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

 

 

About the Book:

 

Boston, 2015
Two years after nearly losing her life in the Boston Marathon bombing, Annie David is still far from “Boston strong.” Instead she remains isolated and defeated―plagued by guilt over her niece, crippled in the blast, and by an antique ring alongside a hazy hero’s face. But when she learns the identity of her rescuer, will he be the hero she’s imagined? And can the long-past history of the woman behind the ring set her free from the guilt and fears of the present?

Boston, 1770
As a woman alone in a rebellious town, Liberty Caldwell finds herself in a dangerous predicament. When a British lieutenant, Alexander Smythe, comes to her rescue and offers her employment, Liberty accepts. As months go by, Alexander not only begins to share his love of poetry with her, but protects Liberty from the advances of a lecherous captain living in the officers’ house where she works.

Mounting tensions explode in the Boston Massacre, and Liberty’s world is shattered as her brother, with whom she has just reunited, is killed in the fray. Desperate and alone, she returns home, only to be assaulted by the captain. Afraid and furious toward redcoats, Liberty leaves the officers’ home, taking with her a ring that belonged to Alexander.

Two women, separated by centuries, must learn to face their fears. And when they feel they must be strong, they learn that sometimes true strength is found in surrender.

 

My Thoughts:

 

The cover is lovely, and the story, too. What kind of threw me off, to be honest, was the switching back from one time period to the next with each chapter – I found myself having a hard time switching gears, getting into one character’s story and then having to switch to the other, etc. I must confess that I “cheated” and just read the story of Liberty’s first, switching off about halfway through to catch up on Anaya’s, and then slowly eased my way into reading it “normally” towards the end where it made most sense to do so. By reading it in this unconventional way, I was able to enjoy it more, personally.
Liberty’s story was a little heart-rending, the struggles and pain she had to go through. She had a hard life.
I felt for Annie (Anaya), and her own trials she had to deal with.
Really, both of these characters dealt with struggles and trials that shaped their lives. They were not free from pain, but they learned to live through it and eventually, find God’s Grace, Mercy, and Salvation.
The historical side of this book was actually my favourite, and where I connected the most. Though **SPOILER** I wanted her to marry Alexander in the first place. Redcoat or not. END OF SPOILER***
But yes, it was a good book, one I’m sure many will enjoy.
Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

“Just Look Up” by Courtney Walsh ~ Review

“Just Look Up” by Courtney Walsh

Review copy from Tyndale Publishers Reading Program

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home―a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work―something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.
Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.
Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along―if only she’d just look up.

 

 

My Thoughts:

I’ve only read one other of Courtney Walsh’s books, but I enjoyed that one quite a bit, so I was glad to get the chance to read/review this one as well.
I liked this book – especially Ryan. He was a great character. So sweet and selfless, but not without his own faults and struggles. Lane was a well crafted character too, though I personally didn’t relate to her quite as well, but there were times where I could.
This was definitely a romance book, but not a deep Christian book. There was a bit in the beginning/middle, but only a little and nothing really fully developed/focused on it. The faith strand just wasn’t a very major part of the book. It was clean, and there were mentions of God, and His role in our lives, it just wasn’t the focal point of the story.
The message of not being so connected to the online world etc. was good, and the story  was written well. It all flowed very nicely and was engaging.
So while I think I preferred the other book I’ve read by this author, “Just Look Up” was still a good read.
Posted in Bethany House, Blogging For Books, Book reviews, BookCrash, Booklook Review, Books, Chuck Black, Heather Day Gilbert, Litfuse, NetGalley Book Review, reading, Revell Reads, Reviews, Tessa Afshar, Tyndale House, update

Another year past/2015

Hello! Today is the last day of 2015. I hope it was a good year for all of you! And I hope 2016 brings lots of blessings and lessons from our Lord too. :)

I am going to do my yearly post of books I read over the past year…so, here we go! I’m showing them from the latest I read to the first I read back in January of 2015. Each image should bring you to their GoodReads page and my review if applicable. :)

 

The Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #2) 
 
 
 
 
 
Meant to be Mine (Porter Family, #2) A Dream Not Imagined: A Cinderella StoryThe Art of Losing YourselfFive Glass SlippersThe Choosing (Seer, #1)
The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, #1) The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (Thornbeck, #1)Esther: The Story of a Woman Who Saved a NationSide by SideTrial by Twelve (A Murder in the Mountains, #2)
Beauty (Folktales, #1) The Salt CovenantsJoseph of Arimathea: A Tale of the ResurrectionFinding MeRise of the Fallen (Wars of the Realm, #2)
For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights into the Missionary Journey Brothers and BetrayalLove by the Letter (Unexpected Brides, #0.5)The Tomb: A Novel of Martha (The Living Water, #3)Remember the Lilies
Stay in the Castle Adventures and AdversitiesHow to Catch a Prince (Royal Wedding, #3)An Uncertain Choice (An Uncertain Choice, #1)Dauntless (Valiant Hearts, #1)
The Vow (An Uncertain Choice, #0.5) The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks (The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury, #1) The Crimson Cord: Rahab's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land, #1) Paper Hearts Journey to the Well
Both of Me Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella StoryTiger LilyDeliver Me from Evil (Freedom #1)  Beyond All Dreams
 Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, #1)
Most of them were very good, and some were so-so, and other’s weren’t a favourite. But ultimately, I had a very good reading year! Top ten favourites? Hard choice! But here are SOME, in no order:
“Resistance” and “Half-Blood” by Jaye L. Knight
“Not Abandoned” by MacKenzie Morganthal
“Brothers-in-Arms” by Jack Lewis Baillot (not published yet)
“The Fragrance of Geraniums” and “All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri
“The Tomb” by Stephanie Landsem
“The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest” and “Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
“Better than Peanut Butter Ice Cream” by Kristen Krueger
“Through Waters Deep” by Sarah Sundin
“Rise of the Fallen” by Chuck Black
“Dauntless” and “Chivalrous” by Dina L. Sleiman
Okay, so I realise I cheated a little and did more than ten, but there are only ten lines, so… :D
Some Honourable Mentions:
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman
A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu
The Tethered World by Heather FitzGerald
Side by Side by Jana Kelley
For the Joy Set Before Us by Erica Fye
Annnnnd there were more I enjoyed. :) But I will end here. What books were your favourites of the year? Could you pick just a few? :D
Here’s to more reading in 2016!
Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Tyndale Book Review: “Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” by Missy Robertson

 

“Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” by Missy Robertson

Nonfiction

Review copy source: Tyndale Blog Review program

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Missy Robertson knew that marrying duck-hunting family man Jase Robertson would be an adventure . . . and she was up to the challenge. Their life together was good (even after Jase grew the beard). They had two children, worked hard to help build the thriving Duck Commander business, and loved and served God.

But after a difficult and risky pregnancy, their daughter, Mia, was born with a cleft palate―a serious condition requiring multiple cranial and facial surgeries. As their baby struggled to breathe, and Missy and Jase faced a life that suddenly looked very different than the one they’d planned, they found themselves staring down one of life’s biggest questions: Where is God in all this pain?

This is the Robertsons’ story. It’s for anyone scared and overwhelmed by a problem they can’t fix; anyone lost and searching for a way through. You’ll meet the young girl Mia who captured A&E’s Duck Dynasty viewers’ hearts, and learn how Missy and Jase have raised her and their sons to be faithful, confident, and secure in who they are. You’ll be inspired by how the Robertson family stuck by each other through the hardest times. And you’ll discover that God’s blessings are bigger than you ever dreamed―and there when you need them the most.

 

My Thoughts:

I am glad that the Duck Dynasty members have chosen to write their stories, because the TV can only capture so much, and much of it being what it wants to capture. But as with everyone, their lives are more complex. The trials Missy, Jase, and their family have gone through, mostly surrounding their youngest daughter, Mia’s cleft lip and palate, can be staggering. But it is a blessing that they’ve had the Lord to lean upon, because really there is no other way to get through anything like that.
Some of it did make me sad, because I could see the areas in which Missy and Jase are particularly broken. I didn’t agree with a lot of Missy’s views. She kept saying how she had to be strong for her children, and her children couldn’t see her emotional or break down. And I don’t agree with that. We aren’t to be strong by our own strength, anyway – we’re supposed to lean on the Lord fully and use His strength. And I think it’s important for all children to see their parents true and raw, even if that means falling apart – God wants us transparent, and children can definitely grow up healthy in seeing their parents that way.I’m not saying freaking out and always being a wreck, I’m just saying that if children can see their parents sad and scared at times and know that they go to God when they are troubled, then that teaches them to do the same.
I also didn’t agree with Missy thinking that Mia (and all of her children) be so independent at a very young age, almost not even relying on Mom or Dad at all. I don’t think that’s wise – God gave us parents for a reason, to grow us and be there for us, to give us security. Not to replace God, but at such a young age, children need that security. I believe if they don’t get that, and don’t understand how to go to God (and really, not many do at such an age) they use their own coping-mechanisms to handle life. And that only makes it hard later on to lean on God.
The relationship between Mia and Bella especially was really cute. What a blessing that they could be (and are) so close.  The support Bella lovingly gave to Mia was precious. :)
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.