Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson


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The apostle Paul often spoke of prayer. In the openings of his letters, Paul told his readers how he prayed for them, and asked for prayers in return. Paul’s focus on prayer should draw our attention.

D. A. Carson lays out several prayers from Paul’s letters. He breaks them down to reveal what Paul is praying for and why. He reveals, most importantly, that the prayers of Paul are God-centered.

This book turned out to be a lot more theologically rich than I was expecting, but after reading it I can see why. Carson really gets into the bones of Paul’s prayers. There’s nothing superficial here.

There were moments when I got a little confused, and had to re-read a passage, but it’s worth it. I did a lot of underlining in this book.

1) Is it understandable = 4
2) Presentation of Information = 4.5
3) Quality of Writing = 4.5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 4

Average score of 4.25 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund


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At his mother’s request, Sir Bennet returns home to help his family. They are deeply in debt, and their situation has become dangerous as the people they owe threaten to attack and take everything. His mother feels the only way out is for Sir Bennet to marry a wealthy woman.

Lady Sabine doesn’t consider herself beautiful. Worse, she has a discoloration on her arm. Superstitions would brand her as a witch, and her life would end. She visits Sir Bennet’s home, knowing his family’s financial situation. He has a rare collection of ancient treasures she has always longed to see, and she hopes to purchase something for herself.

The two bond over their love of the collection, but Sabine’s secret, and Bennet’s pride could hinder their relationship as the danger around them grows.

This young adult historical romance is a bit predictable at times, but is a good read overall. The characters are likable, and you want to know more about them. The character interactions are excellent, and keep the pages turning.

My biggest issue may be that, for a Christian novel, what little thought there is to God quickly turns to human attention or affection, and the idea that we can’t truly love until we learn to love ourselves.

I also had some trouble following whose point of view I was in. Both Sabine and Bennet have a turn, and both are in first person. As chapters started, it sometimes took a moment for me to figure out who was speaking.

Not my favorite work of Hedlund’s, but still a nice novel.

1) Overall Plot = 4
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4.5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4

Average score of 4.5 out of 5.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an electronic copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.

Red by Ted Dekker


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Thomas Hunter leads two lives. In one world, he is trying to stop a virus from wiping out civilization. In the other, he is the leader of warriors who protect their people from a fallen enemy.

The evidence of a link between these worlds grows, and Thomas must stay alive to change history, or both worlds could be destroyed.

Red is the second book in the Circle series. It picks up at the exact point that Black left off, and the rollercoaster continues. The Biblical parallels become richer in this installment as the over-arching story reaches a climax in the world of the Colored Forest.

This book does lag just a bit in places, compared to Black, but the story moves forward at a decent pace for the depth of the story being told here.

This book is also a bit more violent, but it’s poignant and essential to the story.

1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 4.5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average of score 4.9 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

The Outlaw’s Second Chance by Angie Dicken


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For Cort Stanton and Aubrey Huxley, the Oklahoma Land Run is a chance for freedom. For Aubrey, it’s freedom from no-good father. For Cort, it’s freedom from a jail cell for a crime he didn’t commit. When they try to claim the same piece of land, Cort agrees to let Aubrey have it if she just agrees to let him work it. It’s a deal that gives Aubrey what she desperately wants, and allows Cort to keep a low profile.

As the two learn to work together, they grow closer. But Cort knows his past could catch up with him and force him to leave, and Aubrey refuses to end up depending on a man the way her mother did.

This is a sweet story that features strong Christian characters. It’s an entertaining read, but it felt a little drawn out. I found myself skimming through some of the internal thoughts of the characters, as it was usually them reminding themselves why they shouldn’t pursue each other. Other than that, it’s a good read.

1) Overall Plot = 4.5
2) Characters = 4.5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 4
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4

Average of score 4.4 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

Bleak Landing by Terrie Todd


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Bridget O’Sullivan is a twelve-year-old Irish immigrant. In a poor Canadian town, she is often beaten by her father, and bullied by her schoolmate, Victor Harrison. But she dreams of a better life, and runs away just a few years later.

When her father dies, Bridget must return to Bleak Landing to claim what’s hers. The problem is that she has no identification to prove she is O’Sullivan’s daughter, and most don’t recognize the beautiful, accomplished woman she has become. Only Victor. Wounded by war, Victor has become the town pastor and a candidate for mayor. As he tries to help Bridget he seeks forgiveness, but can she ever open her heart after the hurt from her past?

This is a great story. The characters are well-developed and believable. Bridget can be a bit unlikable at times, but never to the point that you stop wanting her to succeed. My only complaint for this novel is the ending. It felt very rushed once she returned home after her father’s death.

Overall, it’s a good read. Especially in regards to Bridget’s journey to discovering who God really is.

1) Overall Plot = 4.5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 4
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.5

Average of score 4.6 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

 

Deep Waters by Jessica R. Patch


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Members of the Flynn family tend to hold dangerous jobs. All except for Caley. She purposely avoids danger, living her life rescuing and studying turtles instead.

When she finds the body of one of her interns on the beach, she fears it’s foul play.

At the request of Caley’s brother, Shepherd Lightman detours from his vacation to check on Caley and make sure everything is all right. But Shepherd agrees with Caley that the intern’s death was no accident, and he seems to be the only one who agrees.

As they search for evidence, Caley’s life is put into more danger. Shepherd must protect her, while trying not to fall for her more than he already has.

This is a great short novel. An easy read that will keep the pages turning. Be it suspense or romance, there’s tension on every page with characters that will keep you engaged.

1) Overall Plot = 4.8
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.5

Average of score 4.86 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

A Plain Leaving by Leslie Gould


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Jessica Bachmann has been on her own for three years. She has a job that she loves, and a boyfriend she cares for. Her life is good enough that she doesn’t regret leaving her Amish community, despite the time it took to get over the pain of the separation.

Now, after the death of her father, she must return for the funeral. She struggles through her grief, as well as the painful reunion with her family, most of whom are anything but welcoming. She must also deal with the resurfacing emotions toward Silas, the love she left behind.

In the midst of it all, Jessica’s aunt tells her the story of Ruby Bachmann, an ancestor from the time of the Revolutionary War. Ruby was faced with hardships and hard decisions. Will Ruby’s story guide Jessica back to her family? Or will it reinforce her decision to leave?

This is the first Amish novel I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I gave it a chance. It’s very well written, and Gould does a good job of weaving the two stories together. There were a couple of times where I lost track of whose story I was reading. I don’t really fault the author for this. I think it was only in part due to the fact that the Amish community didn’t change much between the times of Ruby and Jessica. But it wasn’t a major confusion. It was more along the lines of “oh, wait… that’s right, Jessica has a car.”

Other than that (which I blame mostly on my lack of concentration as of late), the book is wonderful. If you’re looking for a clean, faith-inspiring read, this is it.

1) Overall Plot = 5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4.8
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.8

Average of score 4.92 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty


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When Mary Wade Kimball stops to help an entangled kitten, she’s pulled into the nearby abandoned house. Bound and gagged, she worries she will never escape when the leader of her two assailants returns from the store.

When Brett Davis discovers the kidnapped woman, he has a decision to make. He can allow this woman to be hurt, or he can throw three months of undercover work out of the window and get her out of there. But what will happen when the other two men give chase? And what do they do with the growing attraction between them?

I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel. The story pulled me in so that I couldn’t wait to pick up the book again. It’s mostly clean, with a few heated kisses and a couple of close calls with Mary at the hands of one of her assailants, but not vulgar by any stretch.

There’s also a great focus on leaning on God’s strength.

I definitely suggest this novel.

1) Overall Plot = 4.5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average of score 4.9 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden


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Romulus White has been pursuing Stella West for years. Her artistic talent has made her famous, and Romulus wants her work in his science magazine. Stella, however, has no desire to leave London, where she’s made a name for herself.

Only the mysterious death of her sister, Gwendolyn, gets her to leave. She travels to Boston to gets answers. Instead, she finds a tight-knit group of police and city officials who see her as a nuisance.

When Romulus finds Stella in Boston, she realizes that he may have the connections she needs to finally get to the truth, but an instant attraction soon becomes a distraction for both of them, and the more they uncover about Gwendolyn’s death, the closer they both get to losing everything they value.

This historical novel has a great blend of suspense and romance. I was a little unsure in the beginning when I figured out one aspect of the mystery, but as the truth unfolded, I was honestly surprised. The characters are flawed in such a way that they could have been unlikable, but Camden did a great job of fleshing them out and making you want to see them succeed.

The descriptions and scene-setting are also well done. It’s just enough to allow you to visualize without becoming too much.

This was my first Camden novel, and I will definitely read more of her work. If you’re looking for a clean romance, with an intriguing mystery, this is for you.

1) Overall Plot =4.5
2) Characters = 4.5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.5

Average of score 4.7 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess


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Henrietta Howel was brought to London as the first female sorcerer in centuries. She was the chosen one who would help defeat the Ancients terrorizing England, but she’s not the chosen one.

Still, she must carry on for the public as though she is the one who will save them. It means that she and Rook will have a chance to be safe, though his dark powers are growing as he learns to control them, changing him into something she doesn’t recognize.

With permission from the head of the Order, Howel and Blackwood go in search of weapons that may help them in their war against the Ancients. Magnus, still trying to get back into Howel’s good graces, is assigned to assist.

Along the way they discover strange places, danger, and truth that has devastating consequences.

This second book in Cluess’s Kingdom on Fire series is perfectly on par with the first. The story moves on without any lag. The characters are so well-written that they jump off the page. There’s a little more drama as potential romances grow, but it’s so woven into the plot that it all feels natural, and leaves you a little unsure of who to root for.

I have to point out Cluess’s ability to lay groundwork with hints and clues as the story unfolds. A lot of things come to light in this novel, and I was able to predict a few of them by the clues left here and there, and still be satisfied in the reveal. There are still unanswered questions, and I still have some theories that haven’t played out yet. I will definitely be reading the next book.

A few content warnings: The use of magic is heavier than the first book as magicians take on a greater role. There is mild language. The first novel hinted at a gay relationship and it is confirmed in this novel. The characters are minor, and the scene is short, but I expect it may be brought up again in the next book.

1) Overall Plot =4.5
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 5
5) Overall Enjoyability = 4.5

Average of score 4.8 out of 5

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review.