Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer: A Book Review

When Danger Arrives, It’s More Than Just Her Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

My Review: Love, suspense, humor and a little bit of mystery make up this lovely story centered around Grace and Amos. I thought Grace and Amos were the cutest couple and I loved watching their romance unfold. I think it’s really neat how they were able to communicate with each other in a way that most others could never decipher.

I love that Amos isn’t the “typical” heartthrob male lead. He’s a bit of a geek, but he proves many times throughout this story that he is brave, heroic and selfless. I enjoyed all of the characters and the story-line of this book. I loved the town full of women, who somehow seem to keep accumulating men!

This is a sweet love story, but ultimately it is a story of redemption. It is a story about how God plans our steps, redeems our stories and creates beautiful things out of the ashes of our pain. I love the quote near the end of this book:

“Only a master weaver could intertwine dark and light threads in such a way that all one saw was beauty when looking back at the finished tapestry.”

This is a beautiful depiction of how God cares for us and works in our lives.

My only complaint regarding this novel is that I was unaware that it was book 2 in a series. I really hate reading books out of order, so I’m once again bummed that publishers don’t more clearly label a series as such. This book can easily be read solo, but I just prefer to read a series from beginning to end.

I do highly recommend this book!

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

 

Karen Witemeyer

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyerwrites historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at http://www.karenwitemeyer.com.

I’ll Push You by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck: A Book Review

I’ll Push You

Patrick Gray, Justin Skeesuck

Two best friends, 500 miles, one wheelchair, and the challenge of a lifetime.
Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.

So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was: “I’ll push you.”

I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humor, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits—and make us the best versions of ourselves.

My Review: I’m not even sure where to start with this review. This book touched my heart in so many ways that I’m not certain I will be able to do it justice. The description above tells you the story of what this book is about, so I am going to focus on what I found within the pages of this book.

This is the true story of two best friends and their journey, not only a journey across 500 miles, but in all of life.

Never in my life have I dog-eared so many pages in a book.

The friendship between Justin and Patrick blows my mind. It also inspires me and fills me with hope and determination.

People often ask Justin and me what makes our friendship so strong. Our answer is simple; We choose to share life’s adventures. I make his “I wonders” mine and he makes my  “I wonders” his. We pursue life together. We always have.

Friendship is fiercely important in my life and I absolutely love the way they view their friendship. This is exactly the way I want my friendships to be. I feel like so often in this world, friendship takes a backseat to everything else in life. We live in a busy time and everyone is running in a million directions and it feels like friendships are the thing that gets pushed aside. It’s so easy now to maintain a friendship using social media or other modern technology. And, while those are great tools, they can be a hindrance to the true connection of friendship.

Would you press pause on your everyday life and take a 500 mile journey with your best friend? Would I? And, would you do it with the commitment that Patrick had to Justin? “I’ll push you.”

Those three words may sound simple, but they are powerful beyond anything I can grasp.

Patrick knew he would have to take care of all of Justin’s basic needs. He would be responsible for feeding, clothing and bathing his friend, yet he didn’t hesitate. In this self-centered world, we see “friends” who won’t even keep a commitment for a coffee date, and these friends are committing to a 500 mile journey that is going to be beyond challenging, and quite realistically impossible.

I can’t even fathom.

This is a privilege. It may be work at times; it may mean I’m the first one up in the morning and the last to bed, but to have the opportunity to tangibly express my love for my friend, to serve him, is a gift I cherish.

Patrick considered taking care of his friend a privilege. The opportunity to serve and show tangible love to our friends should be viewed this way. What a gift!

The bible says Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. What does this look like? I think it looks exactly like the friendship between Patrick & Justin.

Along their journey, they met many people who not only impacted their journey physically by helping to lighten their load, but they impacted them spiritually and emotionally as they shared true community among each other. This is a picture of what the church should be. A place where all are welcome and loved and where we carry each others burdens, lighten each other’s loads and live life side by side.

Sitting here in this square in the middle of Spain, I’m thinking of all the damaged relationships that could be healed and the broken relationships that could be mended if we all chose to stop the distractions, rest in the presence of those we love, and keep them close.

This. I have seen and experienced too many damaged and broken relationships in this life and I think it’s because we don’t know how to love completely, sacrificially, deeply, transparently, unselfishly.

We have to pursue each other. We have to make time for each other. If we want to have deep, meaningful relationships in our lives, we have to be willing to lay down our lives for our friends. This might not mean literally dying for a friend, but it might mean giving up a convenience, sacrificing some time, showing up when you don’t feel like it, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and transparent.

As adults it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we must pursue one another, even when it gets in the way of our own priorities. We can tell people how much we love them, how much they mean to us, but this means nothing if we don’t pursue them. We have to pick up the phone, make time to be together, get in a car and make the drive, or hop on a plane and fly across the country. Like it or not, we are what we do, not what we say we will do.

We live in a world where the mentality is “me and mine first”. If my needs, wants and desires and those of my immediate family are satisfied, I might have a moment or two to spare for you. That is NOT the way to pursue a friendship. To value a friendship, you must be committed to it, and your efforts and actions must reflect that.

In this unique friendship, we see at the forefront, a willingness by Patrick to push Justin on this 500 mile journey. What we may not realize is Justin’s willingness to be pushed. Think about it, how difficult would it be to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough with your friend, to let him bathe you, clothe you, feed you? There is a humble servant in both of these men. They both know what it means to lay down their lives for each other.

How often are we afraid to be vulnerable in every day life? To open up and let someone in?

Another thing that really resonated with me in this book is the transformation that took place in Patrick during their journey. He realized that his priorities weren’t where they should be and he acknowledged that he had a hard time letting go of control, allowing God to lead and letting others help him in his journey. He felt in order to succeed and do things right, he had to do it perfectly and completely, without help. As he struggled with allowing others to come along side them to help push and pull Justin through the trails, he realized that embracing his limitations, and allowing himself to be vulnerable were his greatest strengths.

We can’t do everything on our own, and we weren’t meant to. God desires that we live life together, support, encourage and lift each other up. We are meant to live in community and fellowship with one another. This means living in a way that is sacrificial, selfless and vulnerable.

Along the journey of Justin and Patrick, we see the most beautiful picture of friendship I’ve ever seen, except in biblical history. Their friendship inspires me more than I can say. I want so desperately to be the kind of friend that they exemplify, and I want to have friends like that too. The reason Patrick and Justin’s friendship works so well is because they are BOTH committed to each other.  I’ve never been in a position to push a friend 500 miles, or to bathe or feed them when they could not bathe or feed themselves, but I’d like to think that if the circumstance ever arose, I would joyfully say “I’ll push you.’ and consider it a privilege.

I highly recommend this book to every person EVER. *I received a copy of this book free of charge from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. 

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June: A Book Review

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night, which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client. If Tatum is reading his emails right, her virtual Prince Charming is funny, smart, and talented—and he seems to think the same about her. Too bad he’s spending his summer across the ocean in Ireland…not that Tatum would be allowed to go on a date anyway.

But over the course of the summer, Tatum will learn that sometimes going after what you want means breaking all the rules. And when Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way. A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith.

My Review: This is the perfect summer read! I was first drawn to this book because it has such a pretty, eye-catching cover and an intriguing title. I also love that it is a YA book. The plot is a very modern day Cinderella story, which I found to be quite  fun to read.

The characters are very likable and the story is well-balanced. This story is about friendship and romance and it’s about following your dreams, learning something new and rethinking what you thought you knew. I love that Tatum has a lot of spirit and determination, and I love that she isn’t afraid to consider that she might be wrong about something or someone. I enjoyed reading the correspondence she had with other characters via email, as well as the conversations she had verbally. There is just something about this character that I really found refreshing.

This is such a sweet story that leaves an impression and a smile on the face of the reader.

*I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Ruth: Discovering Your Place in God’s Story: A Book Review

Color with Friends. Be Drawn In to Scripture.
Struck by tragedy. On the fringes of society. Seizing upon hope. Ruth didn’t wait for hope to arrive. She sought it out and grabbed hold of it. Compelled by need, animated by faith, she dared to leave the only land she knew. Ruth’s resilience and resourcefulness offer you a creative vision to navigate life’s inevitable struggles, trust God, and hold fast to his irrevocable hope.

Deepen your friendships as you gather around Scripture for coloring and conversation. Drawn In offers simple four-week Bible studies―perfect for groups or personal devotions. Coloring quiets your heart and mind so you can enter fully into Scripture’s stories. The Bible’s passion and personality come through in The Message, surprising new and long-time Bible readers alike. Discover the delight of being Drawn In.

My Review: This is such a cool idea. A combination of adult coloring book meets bible journaling, in a simple and unique bible study format. What an incredibly awesome way to deepen your study or scripture and awaken your creativity at the same time. We often don’t see scripture as being relevant and alive in our modern age, but it absolutely is, and this combination of bible study and creativity really allow us to see the Word in a fresh new way.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.

Some Small Magic by Billy Coffey: A Book Review

She whispers, “I’m supposed to take you home.”

“Not yet,” Abel says. “Please, just not yet.”

All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past.

When Abel discovers letters to him from the dad he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems.

With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely upon his simpleminded friend Willie—a man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than most—and a beautiful young woman who was already on the train. From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is that the magic that will one day lead him home?

My Review: Billy Coffey writes such unique stories. This is the second book I’ve had the pleasure of reading by him, and I am so impressed with his imagination and creativity. It’s refreshing to find an author in Christian fiction who writes in such a distinct way.

I absolutely fell in love with Abel in this story. He’s a broken child in the world’s eyes, but in reality he is a wonder, filled with hope, faith and love. I really enjoyed the most unlikely friendship between he, Dumb Willie and Dorothy and I loved traveling with them on their journey. They truly were characters that came alive on the pages.

This story is so full and rich and has a depth that is hard to explain. It’s full of mystery, intrigue, hope and a little bit of whimsy. It’s a story that reminds us that things aren’t always as they seem, people aren’t always what you judge them to be and faith is more powerful than we often realize. This book leaves me thinking, and I like thinking.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers  in exchange for my honest review.

True to You by Becky Wade: A Book Review

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. However, when John, an adoptee, is diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his ancestry.

John enlists Nora’s help to uncover the identity of his birth mother, and as they work side by side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. But can their hope for a future survive their wounds from the past?

My Review: This was such a sweet story. From the very first page, I found myself thoroughly enjoying every character that is introduced. The author does a great job displaying the unique personalities of each one. I absolutely love Nora and her vocabulary.  I loved watching Nora and John’s relationship build and their story unfold.

I also loved joining Nora and John as they researched and discovered the story behind John’s adoption. This story was sweet and light, but at the same time, it had some heavy tones for our characters to work through and I love how that all played out.

I appreciate so much the promise of redemption that the author weaves into this story and the reminder that God strengthens us and equips us to deal with those things in life that we can’t change.

I’m excited that the book cover seems to indicate this will be a series. I look forward to getting to know Nora’s sisters more in their upcoming novels.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

 

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at http://www.beckywade.com.

The Woman’s Study Bible: A Review

Book Description

The Woman’s Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, The Woman’s Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman’s Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Features Include:

Beautiful full-color design throughout Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy Book introductions and outlines Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees Quotes from godly women throughout history Set of full-page maps of the biblical world Topical index Concordance .

My Review: I was so excited to get this bible! I love the idea of an updated study bible specifically for women, designed by women. I also love that it happens to be in my favorite translation, the NKJV.

When I received this bible, my first thought was “This far exceeds my expectations!” and “It’s beautiful!!” It truly is a gorgeous bible. It is very aesthetically pleasing with it’s beautiful, large font, pretty cover, pink-edged pages and colorful notes. I obviously have just begun to enjoy and study this bible, but so far, I am very impressed. I love the articles in the beginning and all of the notes and insights throughout and I love that all of these insights and articles were written by women.

This is definitely going to be one of my most-treasured bibles for years to come. Highly recommended.

*I received a copy of this bible free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.