Redeeming Love

Perhaps one of the most-loved pieces of Christian fiction, especially of the romance genre, Redeeming Love has been recommended to me over and over again.  I finally read it last month and wanted to share my thoughts with you all!

The story is a loose parallel to the biblical account of Hosea, except it is set during the California gold rush in the 1840-50s.  This fictional account gives a personal look at how God is faithful to us, time and again, no matter how often we leave Him or how far we run.  Its power and timelessness lies in the emotional impact of the story and how relatable the characters’ feelings are.  Its draw and effect were not lost on me; I sat down and read the whole novel in one afternoon (quite the feat since it’s around 450 pages).  I, without hesitation, join the line of women recommending this book.  It does have some mature themes and scenes, so I’d limit it to mature teenagers and up, but the message of God’s love, faithfulness, and pursuit is so relevant to all of us.

I’ve had this book sitting on the bookshelves for years, so the only incentive in writing this review was to share the story with you all! If you do end up buying it through the link above, there’s two things you’d ought to know: 1) I’d love to know your thoughts on the story, so please comment them on this post! and 2) I will receive a small percentage from your purchase of the book, but it doesn’t increase your price at all, just helps to support me.

xo,

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A Loyal Heart

A Loyal Heart by Jody Hedlund is the fourth installment in her young adult historical series, which began with the prequel novella The Vow and continued through the following three books, An Uncertain ChoiceA Daring Sacrifice, and For Love and Honor.

This has been a really enjoyable series that got better with each installment.  Geared towards teenage and young adult audiences, I think it would be enjoyable for adults as well.

This novel follows the story of Sir Aldric and Lady Olivia.  I don’t want to say anything about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away, and there’s not much I can say about these two characters and how they meet without getting into spoilers.  So, I’ll go straight into what I loved about this book.  First of all, these characters are adorable and have fantastic chemistry.  I love the tangles they get themselves into as they learn who is trustworthy and understand more of people’s motives.  The plot keeps moving and keeps you engaged; I literally finished this book in one sitting.  I picked it up and did not put it down until I had finished it.  I loved the storyline, I loved the setting, and I loved the time period.  These young adults novels are definitely winners for me as well as my younger sisters, and address important issues like being trustworthy and having integrity and good character while being wholesome entertainment.

Thank you to the author for providing me with an electronic copy of this book to read and review.   All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

*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/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion – which I’ve done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and 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.*

The Crooked Path

The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert is the sequel to Child of the River, both of which are published by Thomas Nelson and set in South Africa during the mid-1900s.

This was such a beautiful book! Joubert takes us on a heartfelt, emotional journey through the lives of a group of friends growing up in South Africa during World War II, and the plot line coincides with that of Child of the River.  The characters grab onto your heartstrings and won’t let go! I finished this book in just a couple of days.  It felt like a short story but also a good, hearty one because there wasn’t a moment where the plot dragged or slowed.  I was constantly kept guessing as to what would happen next, which is somewhat unusual in books for me.  I was caught off guard several times by the plot twists, and had four or five burst-into-tears moments and one throw-the-book-across-the-room moment.  The South African setting lent a unique perspective to the second World War, and the message of the book about life being a crooked path yet one worth walking on was beautifully intertwined into the story.  This is a story I will want to read over and over, and tell all my friends and family about.  It is, quite frankly, phenomenal.

Thank you to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

*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/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion – which I’ve done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and 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.*

The Wedding Dress

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The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck was released in 2012, so today’s post is kind of a throwback promotion.  This is the book the started it all; this best seller kick-started Rachel Hauck’s series of novels, all centering around weddings and women throughout the generations.

Each novel in this “Wedding Collection” series has a common item that plays a part in multiple women’s love stories through multiple generations.  In this book’s case, it’s a wedding dress shrouded in mystery.  Each book goes through the stories of the individual women, time-traveling back and forth in alternating chapters, to tell how one woman’s story and connection to the wedding related item connected to another woman’s story.  There are elements of romance, faith, mystery, and legacy in each book, all woven together by their common threads that bring the book together.

One thing I would say about this series? You have to pay attention.  The time-jumping is easy to get lost in, and the mystery element to the stories make it harder to get a grasp on what’s going on, so if you want to read these, read them in as close to one sitting as you can.  The little details add up quickly and tie the story together, but they are easy to miss and then you can be left wondering who is who and what time period the story is in.

Other than that, though, Rachel Hauck is onto something.  The timeless elements and beautiful ways that the three stories come together in and of themselves, but also as a series of wedding related items, is fairly magical.

Thank you to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with copies of all of the books in this series.  All opinions are my own.

*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/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion – which I’ve done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and 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.*

My Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN! While I didn’t read nearly as many books this year (57) as I did last year (100), I still found some gems.  I read a lot more nonfiction this year and that is reflected in my list.

1.) Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere

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I had actually read this book a couple of years ago, and it changed my life, so I was curious to read it again to see if it would be just as powerful the second time through.  It was.

2.) Greater by Steven Furtick

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Somehow this gem of a book slipped by me until recently, when I saw a deal on the ebook and snapped it up.  It spoke directly to some fears and doubts I’ve had as well as confirmed what I’ve been hearing from God.  It was an easy and encouraging read.

3.) Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere

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I’ve been wanting to read this for a while but couldn’t get my hands on a copy.  I was so happy to snag a deal on it on Black Friday and finished it in just a couple of days due to getting it in audio format–read by the author, which was a bonus!  I loved the parallels between a lioness and a woman of God, and found that the book spoke to several different things that I had been needing encouragement or affirmation in, as well as challenging me to let go of more fears and be more wild, free, and fierce.

4.) The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

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After seeing the movie earlier this year, I knew I wanted to read the book.  Normally I read the book before the movie, but this time around it just happened that I had access to the movie before I could find a copy of the book.  I loved how beautifully this book was written; it took me forever to read it because I was savoring the wording of each sentence.  I grew so attached to the characters and the choices that they made really made me wonder what I would do in their situation.  I love it when books are deep, profound, and thought-provoking like this; the only book I’ve read that compares to it is The Book Thief, another favorite of mine.

5.) Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

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This book was written by two best friends and read by my best friend and I.  When I picked it up I did not have any idea how much I would need it.  The themes of being wild and free like God created us continued to come up in my life while I read it and after I finished it, and really inspired both my friend and I.

6.) God is Good by Bill Johnson

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When this book was first recommended to me, I thought just by the title that it was simplistic, obvious, and even unoriginal.  But after reading it I can honestly say my life has changed for the better.  It really made me think about what I believe and come to a whole new understanding of who God is.  I would highly recommend it, especially to those who, like me, didn’t think they needed it.

7.) Night by Elie Wiesel

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This book was a hard read.  The story and its descriptions were simplistic, and by that I do not mean childish or not well-written, but blunt and straightforward when telling the harshness and tragedy contained within.  It was another deep, sobering, and thought-provoking read.  I was nauseous, I was crying, and I cannot begin to imagine what horrors the author endured, even after reading this account detailing some of them.

8.) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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Even if this title also sounds silly to you, it is still worth the read! I loved it and am still working on living tidy even though I read it at the beginning of the year.

9.) Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

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This was a great ending to a great Biblical fiction series written by a debut author.  I throughly enjoyed the series, as it gave a fresh perspective on familiar stories and characters.

10.) Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery

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It’s Anne of Green Gables.  What’s not to love? I loved seeing her and Gilbert’s story continue through the years.

Honorable mention: The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

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I’ve really enjoyed reading this author’s works since discovering her a year or so ago, and this was no different.  Unique settings, multi-layered characters, and a twisty plot made for this to be a good murder mystery following the assistant to Harry Houdini.

Stay tuned for the Top 5 Books I’m looking forward to reading in 2018!