Tuesday, June 11

Fortress of Mist, Teen Fantasy Fiction that's Great for Adults, too!

The throne is redeemed, but the battle is just beginning.          
I've always loved fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction best.  This book has the feel of all of those combined.  Merlin's Immortals is the second book in the Fortress of Mist series.  It can stand on its own, but I do recommend reading book one first.  I didn't but wish I'd had the chance.

The Fortress of Mist series is especially written for teens and I highly recommend it to anyone with teenagers!  Fantasy stuff is so trendy right now and this series is an awesome option if your kids are interested in fantasy.  The story is well-written and exciting, and the book has a message that's actually good for the soul.   Believe it or not, what you read plays a part in who you become even when it's fiction, so don't take that lightly.  Pick up something that's both good entertainment and spiritually invigorating.
In the dark corners of an ancient land, evil lurks in the shadows. Powerful druids haunt the spaces of their lost territory. Double-minded noblemen fight for domain and influence. Invaders from the north threaten the kingdom of Magnus. This land of promise and redemption is mired in deceit and corruption.

The Orphan King, once victorious in conquest, appears to be losing his grip on his seat of power. Thomas rules Magnus, but does not know whom he can trust. His enemies anticipate his every move, thwarting him at each turn. Something is not right.

Under attack, both in the supernatural and natural worlds, Thomas must reach back into the secret layers of his past to find the strength and wisdom to fight his battles. When the mist clears, who will stand with him?

Special thanks to the awesome people at Blogging for Books for providing me with this review opportunity!

Wednesday, June 5

Chasing Dream: Wonderful Fiction for Young Horse Lovers

Backyard Horses was exactly the series I was looking for for my daughters, who love Jesus, love horses, and are in 2nd grade.  Miss Mackall also wrote a series for older readers called "Winnie the Horse Gentler" and I tried that first but I'd recommend it for middle school students and up.  Besides being harder to read, those books sometimes deal with harder issues that wouldn't be understandable by anyone younger than pre-teen.  Backyard Horses, however, is a fairly new series and is written at around a 2nd/3rd grade reading level.  Love, love, love this series!

My daughters love Ellie, the heroine of the storyEllie is a sweet, oftentimes feisty, day-dreaming 4th grader.  In the first book, she often day-dreamed about her own horse.  She did an "science" experiment... begged, cried, and prayed for a horse of her own.  God answered that prayer and brought her a palomino horse she named Dream, hence her new horse's name and this books title "Chasing Dream".  Because it's a continuing story, I recommend reading the first and second books but you definitely don't have to do that in order to enjoy Chasing Dream.  In this book...

Feisty fourth-grader Ellie feels the need to prove to the world that her Backyard Horse (Dream) is worthy of attention. Ellie arranges a race to show off her dream. But her world is shaken when her horse gets sick and she is forced to realize that she could very well lose her Dream.

I highly recommend this book to elementary school children.  It's filled with a good story, important lessons, and a little girl who puts her hope in God.  I highly recommend Chasing Dream as well as Horse Dreams, Cowboy Colt, and Nightmare, the others in the series.  By the way, you can earn this book for free by participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program through the end of August!

Tuesday, June 4

Mommy Time, A Refreshingly Honest and Entertaining Devotional

Wonderfully honest, real, entertaining... not at all your average overly-fluffy devotional!

For example, check out this excerpt from the Mommy Time Devotional, Day 2: Total Strangers: 

When my son is handed to me for the first time, I feel the sudden dissonance of greeting a stranger I thought I knew before.  It's like a blind date with someone you've only read about online.  Nothing about his features is familiar, but then he'll make a move and I think, "Ahaha! That's just like him.  That's the kick he used to give to my liver.

In the middle of the author's honesty and overwhelmedness, God is there.  If you've read any of my devotionals, you know I find the most fulfillment in writing just that way.  This author is a woman after my own heart.  She's written a very encouraging, not to mention entertaining, read.  I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of devotionals. They usually end up seeming contrived, too brief for substance, and quite dull. This one is the total opposite of my low expectations.  I look forward to reading more from Sarah Arthur!  

If you're a new mommy, a mom of young children, or will be soon, I highly recommend this book!  I also recommend it as the perfect baby shower gift. 

Monday, June 3

"All in Good Time": Gilded Legacy Historical Fiction

All in Good Time is the newly released 2nd book in Maureen Lang's "Gilded Legacy" series.  I really enjoyed Bees in the Butterfly Garden and couldn't wait to read this one!

The main character, Dessa, is incredibly stubborn and has an exceptionally hard time being patient.  Flaws and all, she's incredibly sweet and likeable.  She's got a dream and though she doesn't wait for God to step in and help her out, He does so anyway.  All in Good Time is a wonderful picture of the way God redeems our failures when we screw things up royally.  It's a quick read with a fast-flowing storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to find out exactly how all the pieces are going to fit together in the end.
Dessa Caldwell has a dream: to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver’s roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank.

Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he’s the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he’s built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him... until the day Dessa Caldwell ventures into his bank requesting a loan.

Though he’s certain her proposal is a bad investment, Henry is drawn to Dessa’s passion. But that same passion drives her to make rash decisions about Pierson House... and about whom she can trust. One man might hold the key to the future of her mission—but he also threatens to bring Henry’s darkest secrets to light. As the walls around their hearts begin to crumble, Henry and Dessa must choose between their plans and God’s, between safety and love.

You can earn this book free by participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program.  Check it out here!  The program goes through August 31st.

Band of Sisters, Ellis Island, and Human Trafficking

I discovered my new favorite author last month and her newest book didn't disappoint. The reader is swept away from the first page.  Cathy weaves a gripping story with very real characters.  You'll smile and you'll definitely cry as you read their touching story. 

The theme of Band of Sisters is living out what Jesus would have us do in every aspect of our lives.  The author refers often to a classic 1890's book called In His Steps which is now next on my to-read list.  Cathy spins a thought-provoking story, and woven through it all is Jesus, the author of our lives who weaves everything perfectly together to create a masterpiece.

Between the pages of Band of Sisters, the lives of women from very different backgrounds entwine...

Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father’s debt but can’t find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, whom Olivia begins to see as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding. As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

You may have guessed that the secret hiding behind the elegant facade of the department store is human trafficking.  Just a few days before I began to read this book, I watched the movie Taken with my husband.  On a side note, if you haven't seen that movie, you should.  That movie also deals with human trafficking, so this is something that's been on my mind the last few weeks.  I can't stress enough how worth reading Cathy's recent article Human Trafficking Then-and-Now is. Please take a moment to read it, and to find out if there's some way that Jesus can use you, even if it's simply to pray.

"The question is not what we can accomplish, 
but what Christ can accomplish through us." 
~Charles Sheldon, In His Steps

If you've been looking for something that will not only entertain you but will also inspire and challenge you, I definitely recommend both Band of Sisters and Promise Me This!   Also check out Cathy Gohlke's page where you can join her mailing list and find out what else may be in store. 

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Tyndale House for providing me with this book to review!