Hidden Among the Stars

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About the Book

Book Title: Hidden Among The Stars

Author: Melanie Dobson

Hidden-Among-The-Stars-Book-Cover

Genre: Historical Fiction (However, this is a time-slip novel, so there is also a contemporary component to the story)

Release date: September 4, 2018

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes anoth

er gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.
The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

My Thoughts

Wow! This story is addicting in the best way. From the first page I was hooked. A day later I finished the book. Ms. Dobson does the time-slip novel so well. The two time periods are interwoven so seemlessly. The movement of the story is at just the right pace to keep you guessing, learning new things, and falling more in love with the characters on every page. The writing is so well crafted, characters are deep and struggle with real life things in real life ways, and the locations described come to life in your imagination. It’s like I visited the castle and the bookstore as I was reading. I loved the mystery, the history, the romance, and the family ties. I found myself reading it every chance I got. The only thing that slightly disappointed me was the ending. I wish it were drawn out a little more. There was such a huge culmination and it took a long time to get there (and every minute of it was excellent!). However, after you crest the hill it’s like you fall so fast you feel like you need to go back and read it again because it zoomed by so fast. I felt sure I missed something… like some pages fell out of the book! I wanted more explanation. More story at the end. I loved the book so much I wanted just a bit more explanation. It felt too fast to me compared to the pace of the rest of the book. Overall the book was excellent. I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely read it again! It’s a keeper. It gets priority shelf space on my bookshelf for sure. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

Click here to purchase your copy!

 

About the Author

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets . Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year.

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.

Visit Melanie online at www.melaniedobson.com.

 

Guest Post from Melanie

Hallstatt’s Hiding Places

Backpacking across Europe—that’s how my husband Jon and I decided to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We savored the old world culture and charm as we hiked along Italy’s coast, toured medieval castles in Germany, and cruised the canals in Belgium; we both left a bit of our hearts in an ancient lakeside town called Hallstatt.

The moment we stepped off the ferryboat and into this storybook village, we crossed through a portal of sorts, traveling back several centuries in time. The rugged, snow-capped mountains around us and alpine lake, the quaint village with its church steeples and cobblestone lanes and waterfall that spilled into town—all of it captivated us.

Along the shore, hidden partially by trees, we could see spires of an abandoned castle, and I wanted to know its story. No one in Hallstatt could tell us who’d lived in the castle—at least, not in English—so my husband agreed to a new adventure. With a swan as our escort, we glided across the lake in an electric boat so I could study the rusty turrets, boarded windows, and wooden boathouse resting in the water like a felled log.

Instead of quelling my curiosity, the match of inspiration ignited my mind. Who had lived in this castle, and what happened there? I began writing in my journal that night, trying to capture my rogue thoughts on paper, hoping that one day a novel would emerge from the ashes of this castle’s story.

When we returned home, I began researching more of Hallstatt’s history and discovered that this region, in all of its beauty and mystique, had been infiltrated by an enemy in 1938. This town and the surrounding Salzkammergut became a mountain retreat for Nazi officials who built mansions on the shores of its many lakes and used salt mines to hide “ownerless treasure”—the gold bullion and artwork they’d stolen from the Jewish people.

The Nazis intended to build a Fourth Reich in this alpine fortress, but the Allies had other plans. Near the end of the war, these lakes became a dustbin of sorts, collecting whatever the enemy dumped into its waters—weapons, counterfeit banknotes, concentration camp lists—as they fled south from the Allied troops. The Devil’s Dustbin, locals call it.

Lake Hallstatt plunges more than four hundred feet between the fortress of mountains. Because of its depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, divers continue finding World War II artifacts today. Some still believe there’s a treasure trove buried on the bottom, but no one has reported finding any gold.

After our trip, a story about this castle and what happened to the heirlooms of the Austrian Jewish people continued to burn inside me until I finally put it on paper. So I built Schloss Schwansee—Castle of Swan Lake—in my mind, inspired by the castle along Lake Hallstatt, and created a cast of historical and contemporary characters who are searching for lost treasure.

Hidden Among the Stars is a time-slip novel about a castle and treasure and fairytales, but most of all, it’s a story about God using ordinary people across Austria to resist evil in their own extraordinary way.

Blog Stops

Reading Is My SuperPower, September 6

Fiction Aficionado, September 6

Back Porch ReadsSeptember 6

Among the Reads, September 6

The Power of Words, September 7

Multifarious, September 7

lady ansel book vibes, September 7

The Becca Files, September 7

God’s Little Bookworm, September 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, September 8

Painting with Words, September 8

Lis Loves Reading, September 8

cherylbbookblog, September 9

Living LIfe Free in Christ, September 9

Madeline Clark, September 9

Mary Hake, September 9

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 10

Genesis 5020, September 10

Faithfully Bookish, September 10

Simple Harvest Reads, September 10 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Margaret Kazmierczak, September 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 11

Daysong ReflectionsSeptember 11

Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews, September 11

Seasons of Opportunities, September 12

Remembrancy, September 12

Inklings and notionsSeptember 12

amandainpaSeptember 12

Maureen’s Musing, September 13

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 13

Just Commonly, September 13

Book by Book, September 13

Connect in Fiction, September 14

Pause for Tales, September 14

Have A Wonderful DaySeptember 14

Splashes of JoySeptember 14

The Christian Fiction Girl, September 15

Tell Tale Book Reviews, September 15

To Everything A Season, September 15

A Baker’s Perspective, September 15

proud to be an autism mom, September 16

Bibliophile Reviews, September 16

BigreadersiteSeptember 16

Aryn The Libraryan, September 16

By The Book, September 17

Christian author, J.E. Grace, September 17

Janices book reviews, September 17

Texas Book-aholic, September 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 18

Carpe Diem, September 18

Godly Book Reviews, September 19

For The Love of Books, September 19

Live. Love. Read., September 19

Reader’s Cozy Corner, September 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melanie is giving away a grand prize package that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, Catching the Wind paperback, and Hidden Among the Stars paperback!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d2ad/hidden-among-the-stars-celebration-tour-giveaway

High Impact Teams

High Impact Teams
Lance Witt

Summary

Anyone who has been part of a great team knows it’s something special. When the chemistry is good, everyone is operating from their sweet spot, the objectives are clear, and progress is being made, it’s incredibly fulfilling and fun. On the flip side, we’re painfully aware what happens when there is dysfunction in the team — stress, tension, politics, and posturing. It’s not much fun for anyone, and we end up squandering our divine assignments.

Lance Witt knows what it takes to keep teams functioning at the highest level of impact. He shows you how to build a next-level team that is spiritually, emotionally, and relationally healthy and productive and high-performing. Short, to-the-point chapters make this the perfect resource for your team to read through together.

My Thoughts

This book is hands down the best book I’ve read on teamwork up until this point. My first impression of the book was, wow! this is a really heavy book. I was drawn to it because of the topic but was even more drawn to it because of the physical quality it possessed. I thought, “This has got to be a good book if they used quality materials to make it.” Now to the meat of my thoughts, Witt’s voice is graciously authoritative, coming from years of experience, not letting the reader shrink into their excuses. The book builds on itself in a natural progression. It starts with “own it”. Leading great teams start with leading ourselves well. It starts with an inward focus; develop yourself, work on your heart before trying to help others. Inward before outward. Witt speaks life without glossing over issues we need to address. The chapters are short, which is helpful, because the information needs time to digest fully. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter are great for causing personal reflection but then doesn’t stop there. Like the pattern of the book, the questions move from inward reflection to outward dialogue. Just when I was concerned there was too heavy of a focus on productivity and task management, the tone of the book shifted to relationship. Once again, the flow of the book was perfect. Inward toward outward. There are so many practical application points throughout the book. Every chapter is useful. This book is not only for pastors, staff and ministry leaders. It can be applied to every person, regardless of their position within the church or within an organization. All methods are great for inside the church and outside the church in any workplace. This is a book I would highly recommend you spend lots of time with. Take it in the small chunks its divided into and allow it to change how you function both personally and as a member of a team.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy click here:

For more information on the author visit http://www.replenish.net

(Affiliate Link: I receive a few cents from purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting this blog.)

When God’s Ways Make No Sense

When God’s Ways Make No Sense
By Dr. Larry Crabb

We’ve all asked God that question, “Why?” Our finite minds can’t comprehend what God is doing and why. We can’t see the good that will come from it as we are walking through it. We wonder if God really loves us, if he will really take care of us, if he really is all powerful… etc All these lies spring out of lack of faith and cause us to doubt our creator. So what do we do when God’s ways make no sense?

Dr. Crabb’s book When God’s Ways Make No Sense, is a “powerful exploration of God’s often mysterious ways… Dr Larry Crabbe challenges you to seize the opportunities for growth and maturity that come your way when you experience troubles and failures. Rather than pushing back against adversity, you are invited to look closer at what God is doing in your life when it feels like He is far from you. Unpacking the stories of three very different biblical figures, Crabb lights the way to a life of resting in the goodness of a God who is always working out His plan for our lives.” (book cover)

My Thoughts

Crabbe presents 3 responses to life: “Will we resist and run, like Jonah? Will we distort and deny, like Saul? or Will we tremble, refusing to turn away from the God whose thoughts and ways are higher than ours and instead wait patiently…” (95) Thoughts are clearly illustrated with examples and illustrations, there is lots of commentary, and the voice of the book is definitely psychological. The author writes with a rather introspective approach and you can see his background coming through loudly. In a book of this subject matter, I want to see more of what the Bible says and less what others say. I wish there was more scripture used throughout. It wasn’t that there wasn’t any scripture, I just wanted to see more. Nonetheless, there were tons of take-aways and application points. What would have made the book even better would have been thought provoking questions for self-reflection and to help draw out what we are thinking about the subject matter so that those areas of wrong thinking can be changed. I give it 3 stars of 5.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

For more information about the author visit http://www.newwayministries.org

Click here to purchase a copy:  

*Affiliate links included. I receive a few cents from purchases from these links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog. 

Solace of Water

The Solace of Water
By Elizabeth Byler Younts

Have you every read a book that stays with you… for a looong time? This is one of those books. It’s deep, heavy, reminiscent, and reflective but full of acceptance, love, joy, grace and forgiveness. It’s the story of how grief covers you and takes over your being and won’t let you go sometimes. The words make you feel their loss. They make you hurt for their pain. They pull you in and won’t let you go.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.” (Amazon description)

To be completely honest, at first, I thought the story was a little slow, reflective, and lyrical and I wasn’t sure what the point was. But the writing was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The farther I got into the story the more I loved it. Not because it became so much more active, but because I could feel the story happening. The author is brilliant at writing how people feel, how they respond to the events in their life, and how they relate to those around them because of it. It’s the story of two totally unrelated people groups drawn together; African American and Amish together, helping each other, grieving with and for each other, becoming friends in the deepest unexpected way. It is so unique. It’s unlike any other Amish fiction book I’ve read. She doesn’t paint a perfect picture of the Amish. I’m glad for that. There’s no romanticizing them in this book. They have issues just like the rest of us. I loved how the author didn’t shy away from that.

I loved the metaphor of the water. Christ is our healing water, the one who can quench real thirst and give forgiveness for even the worst things. Christian references were very minimal but powerful. They don’t detract from the story at all. Very tastefully included. I put this book right up there with pulitzer prize winning All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale: A Novel. Excellently written literary work of the highest quality. Definitely worth the time it takes to read it. It’s not an easy read but it’s so so good. Give it a chance and stick with it!

I received a copy of this book from BookLookBloggers. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

For more information about the author visit her website https://www.elizabethbyleryounts.com/

*Affiliate Links included. I receive a few cents from purchases through these links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog. 

 

Battle Ready

Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt, and Live Victoriously
By Kelly Balarie

“Too often we fail to prepare for our battles. So when challenges, troubles, or opportunities arise, we rapidly become burdened with limiting thoughts of self-doubt, fear, impossibility, and lack. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can train our minds to conquer uncertainty, beat insecurity, and step past the tragedies of yesterday.

Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelves easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life.” (Back cover)

My Thoughts

Reading the description I thought, “oh this is a book I need to read. Everyone experiences challenges, trouble, fear, doubt etc. I can really use this book”. My very favorite parts of the book were the explore individually questions and then the explore in a group questions. It would be good for the explore individually questions to be completed before group discussion. I love that the book can be used alone or within a group. The questions are pointed and make you think about the material in the chapter. Examples are practical and real life. They help to make the points easy to understand. There is tons of how-to, scripture, it’s like self-help does a dance with the Bible. It’s definitely a book you must take your time to work through in order to get the full value of the book. I loved the questions to examine your story. Really thought provoking. The thing I felt would have made the book better for me was if there weren’t so many lists. I get bored with lists and find myself jumping over the information. It’s not that the information is bad, because it’s not. It’s the format that I do not do well with. I would have a much easier time if it was written in paragraph form with stories and illustrations spread throughout so it’s more balanced. I really struggled to get everything out of the book because the lists were just so extensive. I had a hard time following the outline because of this as well. There is just so much information it can get easily overwhelming.

Overall the information is great and very applicable. The authors voice is genuine. I love all the personal narrative.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy click here:

For more information about the author visit her blog at http://crosswalk.com and http://ibelieve.com

*Affiliate Links included. I receive a few cents from purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog.

am i enough?

am i enough?
By Grace Valentine

Do you ever feel like you just can’t keep on? Feel like you can’t meet expectations? Want to be someone different? Feel defeated and want to hide? As women, I’m sure we have all felt these things at one time or another. We believe lies about ourselves and about God even. This book is for you!

Synopsis

Young women today are constantly told they are not enough for this world — not pretty enough, not smart enough, not exciting enough, not spiritual enough, and just plain not good enough. The barrage is constant. The consequences are real. The damage often feels permanent.

As a young woman herself, Grace Valentino has felt the pressure of trying to survive in a toxic culture, let alone thrive. But she’s had enough. With an engaging combination of honesty and humor, Grace uses her story to confront the lies the world tells us every day — lies such as:

  • You are beautiful because a guy told you so
  • Love must be earned
  • You should forget your past
  • You will never be enough, and more.

Am I Enough? is a line in the sand. It is a declaration that we will never be enough for this world because we were not created for this world. Instead, Grace reminds us that we were created by Someone better for something better. We can choose the One who has chosen us — the One who says: “You are enough for Me, My child. Come as you are.”

About the Author

Grace Valentine is a popular blogger who founded the Enough Movement. Her readers love the fact that she is young, ordinary, and relatable — they say her fresh voice helps them navigate their own faith and life. Grace’s mission is to help those who have struggled like she has to find their worth in Someone who truly is worth following. Grace graduated from Baylor University in 2018 with a degree in Journalism, and she is currently the Content and Curriculum Coordinator for the student ministry of First Baptist Orlando in Orlando, Florida.

(From the Back of the book)

My Thoughts

I love the cover of this book. It is appealing and draws you in, making you want to read what’s inside. When I opened the book I found Grace to be genuine and relatable. She tells her stories throughout the book and uses them to illustrate her points. The audience of this book is girls in high school, college and in their twenties, however, all women can glean some valuable lessons from this book. The stories center around the ages of college and below, which may make them a little far away from some readers but I’m sure we can all remember times in our lives where we had similar experiences. The book is divided into sections based on lies that we tell ourselves or hear from others, and believe. Each chapter in the section deals with related topics that combat the specific lies we believe. I love the included synopsis of Bible characters and how the author uses them to further illustrate her points. I did find a little less use of actual scripture and the actual word God/Jesus than I expected. For example, on the back cover even, she uses “Someone” instead of being specific. There seems to be a lot of commentary which out balances the Scriptures and what God says. But this might be an easier way to understand the topics for a younger woman who may be a less mature believer. I do love how relatable she is. Her writing style is quick and easy. She’s encouraging but not enabling. It seems she truly believes what she is writing and it’s encouraging to see how she has combatted these lies in her life with God’s help. Overall I give this book 3.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers and the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy click here:

*Affiliate Link. I receive a few cents from purchases made through this link at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog. 

For more information about Grace Valentine and her ministry visit her blog Enough

The Edge of Over There – A Book Review

The Edge of Over There
By Shawn Smucker

Synopsis

Before the Tree of Life, everything in Abra Miller’s life had been predictable. Safe. Normal. But after the Tree, everything has felt fragile… like holding a soap bubble in the palm of her hand. After years of fruitless searching for the next Tree, she begins to wonder if it was nothing more than a vivid dream.

Now sixteen, Abra finds a clue to the whereabouts of the next Tree of Life when an ominous woman — who looks exactly like a ghost from her past — compels her to travel to New Orleans where she’ll find one of seven gateways between this world and Over There. But she’s not the only one interested in finding the gateway. There’s also a young man searching for his father and sister, who escaped through it years before. As Abra enters the Edge of Over There and begins her pursuit of the Tree once more, she doesn’t know whom to fear or whom to trust.

She’s also starting to think that some doorways should never be opened. (From the back cover)

My Thoughts

I came into this book not knowing that there was a previous book. I started reading and was confused. I had no idea what was going on. But I liked the way the author wrote. Such beautiful imagery. I felt like the book gripped all 5 of my senses and took them for a wild ride. When I went in search of a little explanation for my confusion, I found that there was another book. Ok! This is not a book that you can skip over the first book. I trudged through though and began to slowly understand a little of what’s going on. It’s Christian allegory, which is not a genre I’m really familiar with. I felt like it was dystopian fiction meets literary fiction. The descriptions were superb. The flow of the language was song-like. The imagination involved was interesting, unique, and I found myself captivated by the new world the author created. I definitely want to go back and read the first book. The ending seemed to leave room for a 3rd book so I’m curious if that will be the case. Overall I give the book 4 stars. I’m glad I read it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy click here:

For more information on the author visit his website http://www.shawnsmucker.com

*Affiliate links included. I receive a few cents from purchases made through my links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog.

Amish Celebrations – A Book Review

Amish Celebrations: Four Novellas
Beth Wiseman

Synopsis

Amish Celebrations is a collection of 4 stories highlighting different life celebrations.

The Gift of Sisters
Hannah and Rachel are fraternal twins approaching their sixteenth birthday—a time when they will be allowed to spread their wings and enjoy their rumschpringe. The sisters couldn’t be more different: Hannah is outgoing and beautiful, while Rachel is shy and withdrawn. And when newcomer Abraham Stoltzfus arrives in Lancaster County, both women fall head over heels for him, each fighting for his affections in their own ways and driving the sisters to turn on each other. Who will Abraham choose? And will Hannah and Rachel reunite after a devastating heartbreak?

A New Beginning
Rebecca and Noah are in love and about to be baptized. But when Noah decides to enjoy one last night of his rumschpringe a few weeks before the ceremony, he does something that causes Rebecca to reconsider his proposal. As Rebecca and Noah navigate the turn in their relationship, Rebecca must learn to forgive Noah or abandon her dreams of marrying him. If Noah won’t forgive himself in time for the baptism, his guilt could cause him to run from his love for Rebecca and leave his community behind.

A Perfect Plan
Priscilla King has been planning to marry Chester Lapp since she was sixteen years old, and when Chester pops the question on Priscilla’s nineteenth birthday, wedding plans begin immediately. But everything begins to fall apart as Chester works to build a house for his new bride, only to have one disaster after another occur. Can true love take this couple through the challenges that threaten their union, or will they begin to doubt that they are on the right path, the one God has chosen for them?

A Christmas Miracle
Mary is twenty-seven years old and already has five young children. Married to her husband at age eighteen, she wasn’t quite prepared for motherhood, and exhaustion and frustration are sending her into a downhill spiral as the holidays approach. Too proud and ashamed to ask for help, Mary’s situation begins to take a toll on her marriage. But when an elderly man in a red suit and his sidekick elf befriend Mary, showering her with wisdom and advice, she must choose to accept help, learn to cope with her situation, and ultimately find the true meaning of Christmas.

My Thoughts

These short stories are not your typical short stories. They aren’t the type of short stories that feel rushed at the end. They are well timed and full stories just in short form. The author does such a good concise job of writing a story plot, developing characters, and tying up the ending that they don’t feel like a typical short story. These stories are great for a quick read when you don’t have time to read an entire book. Each story stands alone and can be easily read in a single sitting, maybe an hour if you’re a faster reader. I loved A Christmas Miracle best. I felt like I could relate to it in my stage of life. Wiseman accurately captured life for a young mom. She writes about the struggles and feelings of inadequacy moms feel when they can’t get a handle on all of the aspects of being a mom, especially one without much help from family. I feel like this story was the most well developed of the 4. The characters are deep and real. There are multiple story lines going on with the different characters in the book. They come together to make a wonderful story. My 2nd favorite was A Perfect Plan. It highlights all the challenges God presents us with in order to help us learn to trust him more. I feel like this is something everyone struggles with so it is easy to relate to this story as well. I love when themes and lessons learned within books can be applied to our own lives. The Gift of Sisters was a cute story but I felt like it was a little overly dramatic for my lifestage personally. I struggled with the petty jealousy between the sisters. But I still liked the story it just wasn’t as relatable for me as the others were. Finally, A Perfect Plan, was a nice addition because it didn’t just focus on how happy Amish people are to be Amish. The character questioned his desire to be Amish and wondered what it would be like to be in the world. I loved how the ending wasn’t what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised.

Overall this book was great. I love that it didn’t leave me feeling frustrated that the author spent so much time developing a story and then had to write a quick ending. It wasn’t like that at all.

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Blogger program. This has in no way influenced my review. I was not obligated to write a review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy:

*Affiliate link included. I receive a few pennies as a result of purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog. 

The Power of Vision – A Book Review

The Power of Vision
By George Barna

Synopsis

When it comes to your ministry, whose plan are you following? Yours? The one devised by your board or a committee? Or are you following God’s plan? … To minister with authenticity and authority, you must first clarify your vision, then make it the focus of your life’s work and the heartbeat of your church. Ready to catch the vision?

(From the back cover)

About the Author

George Barna founded the Barna Group and currently serves as the executive director of the American Culture and Faith Institute, conducting research on faith and all facets of cultural transformation. He is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty books, and his work is regularly cited as an authoritative source by the media. A frequent speaker at ministry conferences around the world, he has been on the faculty at several universities and seminaries.

(From the back cover)

My Thoughts

This is a very informative, inspiring book about vision. Each chapter starts with chapter highlights which give the reader valuable insight into what is ahead. Material is broken down into digest-able chunks. There are a lot of basic definitions. Clear information on what vision is and isn’t, difference between Godly vision and worldly/business/human vision, as well as many myths people have regarding vision (and the corresponding realities) are presented. The book begins by breaking down the difference between mission and vision and moves on to developing a vision and implementation. The major focus of the book is pastor vision but the last chapter focuses on individual vision development and implementation. I found even the material meant for pastors can easily be applied to lay people and development of personal Godly vision. Barna uses examples from the greats of the Bible: David, Nehemiah, Paul etc to prove his points and encourage the reader. There is also extensive helpful information about how to seek God’s vision as opposed to a vision we individually create for ourselves. The reader is encouraged through extensive encouragement and benefits for keeping vision and further challenged with vision killers. Finally, the appendix is an invaluable study guide to further help readers develop and implement vision in their lives personally and in their churches.
Overall this book was encouraging to me personally as a lay person. I have a lot to think on and ponder as I seek God’s vision for my life as a result of reading this book. It was an encouraging motivating book that I would recommend to new pastors who are just starting or in seminary and more seasoned pastors who seek vision improvement (or first time creation even) as well as lay people within the church.
I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing. This has in no way influenced my review. I was under no compulsion to write a review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy:

For more information on the author visit https://www.barna.com/about/george-barna/

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Engraved on the Heart – A Book Review

Engraved on the Heart*
By Tara Johnson

Synopsis

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to hide her illness for fear of a scandal. As rumors of war arrive on their doorstep, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines — until an old schoolmate shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path … as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, but when the enchanting Keziah waltzes back into his life, his well-ordered plans are turned upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s will amid such turbulent times.

Tensions increase in the Montgomery household as Keziah conceals her Underground affiliation from her nosy Southern belle cousin and overbearing parents determined to marry her off to the wealthiest suitor. As Keziah and Micah face their own battles, they discover some convictions are worth a sacrifice … but as circumstances threaten to keep them apart, they will learn if love is truly strong enough to endure the pain of war.

(From the back of the book)

My Thoughts

What originally attracted me to this book was the cover. The somewhat sullen silhouette of the woman in a gorgeous blue dress with pearls adorning her neck left me curious. I had never heard of Tara Johnson before but I was intrigued. It’s been a while since I’ve read any Civil War fiction so that was also something I was intrigued by. I started reading, and then couldn’t stop. I would look down and see that I read 30 or 40 pages in what felt like no time. It was such an unexpectedly quick read. The story is elegantly written, full of suspense, danger, foreboding, and a little romance. There’s something for everyone in this book. Characters were well written, dialogue was realistic and at just the right amount (not over dialogue filled where it feels like a screenplay instead of a book), and the descriptions of war and it’s affects on people and how they thought about it were eye opening. I think that’s one of the best things about this book. She gives the reader a window into the thoughts and ideals of the people on both sides of the war. The north thought they had the advantage but at the same time the people in the south thought they had the advantage. Both sides thought they would win. I had never thought of it quite like that before. She presented several ideas that felt like this for me throughout the book. Love the themes of grace and love. This book is so well written. I can’t wait to read more books by this author.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Bloggers program. This has in no way influenced my review. I was in no way obligated to write a review. All thoughts are my own.

To purchase a copy click here

For more information about Tara Johnson visit her website https://tarajohnsonstories.com/

 

*Post contains affiliate links. I receive a few pennies from purchases through the links included at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog.