Newton & Polly A Novel of Amazing Grace by Jody Hedlund: A Book Review

9781601427649About Newton and Polly

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found…Now remembered as the author of the world’s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father—until the night he hears Polly Catlett’s enchanting voice, caroling. He’s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John’s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

My Review: Amazing Grace…what a beautiful song that stirs the soul. Every time I sing it, I am humbled by God’s mercy and forgiveness, and every time I hear it, I’ve wondered at the life of it’s author. From the moment I saw this novel, I knew I wanted to read it and learn more about the man who penned this incredible hymn.

Admittedly, it took me a few pages before I became invested in the story and the characters, but before I knew it, I was hooked. I found myself mesmerized by Newton and Polly and their story. This book was beautifully written and deeply engrossing. The characters felt very real to me, perhaps more so because I knew they were based on real people, but regardless, the author brought them to life in these pages.

So many times throughout this book, Newton frustrated me and I wanted to dislike him, but yet, I could not. I absolutely adored Polly and I loved her mother and father as well. I really feel like the author captured the emotions of the characters, not only Newton and Polly in their relationship, but in the relationships between them and their parents as well.

This book was such an incredible journey and a pleasure to read. It was emotionally charged, oft heart-wrenching and deeply moving. I loved reading the redemption of Newton, as he finally realizes God’s amazing grace in his life.

Excellent book. Highly recommended.

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

About Jody Hedlund
Jody Hedlund is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author of fourteen books. Among a variety of genres, she especially loves bringing long-forgotten women of history to life. She is the author of Luther and Katharina, which was awarded the ECPA Book of the Year Award in Fiction. Her other novels have won the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christy Award. She resides in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

Befriend by Scott Sauls: A Book Review

978-1-4964-0094-9Is real friendship too risky?
We live in a world where real friendship is hard to find. Suspicious of others and insecure about ourselves, we retreat into the safety of our small, self-made worlds. Now more than ever, it’s easy to avoid people with whom we disagree or whose life experiences don’t mirror our own. Safe among like-minded peers and digital “friends,” we really don’t have to engage with those who can challenge and enhance our limited perspectives. Tragically, even the church can become a place that minimizes diversity and reinforces isolation.Jesus models a much richer vision of friendship. Scott Sauls, pastor and teacher, invites you to see the breadth of Christ’s love in this book, BeFriend. Join Scott on this journey through twenty-one meditations to inspire actively pursuing God’s love through expanding your circle of friends.Scott has met too many people whose first impulse is to fence off their lives with relational barriers that only end up starving their own souls.Yes, it’s true: Real friendship is costly. Love does make us vulnerable. But without risk, our lives will remain impoverished.

Join Scott in BeFriend as he summons you toward diverse friendship that can enrich your life and, in the process, reveal a better version of yourself.

My Review: I love books about relationships and friendships, so I was definitely eager to read this one! This book was a little different than I expected. It was less about friendship, and more about general acceptance and belonging. I love the concept and the reminder that we are all worthy of love and acceptance and that we need to open up our worlds to see beyond those who “belong” in our comfort zone.

This book does a great job of making you think about the diversity in the world and about how we truly need to love our neighbors and befriend those we wouldn’t typically think to befriend. I also love that the book is broken down into short, easy to read chapters. I think the author had some really genuine and honest insight and I really appreciate his thoughts and perspective.

This book didn’t turn out to be what I expected, but I’m totally okay with that because I feel like it had a lot to offer. We live in a world where separation, isolation and judgement are so high and I really love how the author encourages us to break down those barriers and open up our worlds and our hearts.

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

September Reading Round-Up!

The pile of books beside me is getting very tall. Do you ever think about the fact that you’ll never empty your TBR list, even if you live to be a hundred? There are constantly new books that pique my interest that get added to the pile and I know that for me, I’ll never hit a point where I’ve read them all.

It’s kind of a sobering thought. It also makes me panic and frantic to devour as many as I possibly can. It reminds me of the gentleman in that one episode of The Twilight ZoneTime Enough to Last“. Which also reminds me that I haven’t seen that episode in ages, and should watch it again. When I’m not reading.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s discuss the books I actually read in the month of September. It was quite a hectic, busy month, which is why I’m surprised that I actually did pretty well. I have to attribute that to the fact that I am guilty of reading several books at once this month. A little each day goes a long way! I typically don’t like to read multiple books at once, but sometimes it’s necessary.

So, for the month of September, I’ve hit a record this year! 7 books! Yay! Which is much needed because I am still quite behind on my yearly goal. So, without further ado, here are the titles I read this past month:


Of these, 2 were for review purposes: Really Bad Girls of the Bible and Befriend. Including those two, 3 of my reads were non-fiction. The other was Introverts in the Church. They were all very different subjects, so choosing a favorite of those is difficult, but I’d say that I got the most out of reading Introverts in the Church. It was well written and really hit home on a lot of points. It was nice to feel like I could relate to the author, and he to me.

The remaining four titles were all fiction. Lady Cop Makes Trouble was the second in a series. I absolutely love the cover art on these books. That alone almost makes them worth reading! The stories are good, but I do feel like the characters could use a little bit more something… Anyway, Murder on Amsterdam Avenue is by a favorite author and from a favorite series, but I somehow inadvertently skipped this book in the series! Upon discovering that, I immediately rushed to the library to rectify the situation. Under normal circumstances, I absolutely despise reading a series out of order, but since I had no choice, I had to do so. I am glad that I realized my omission, because it was a good addition to the series.

Don’t You Cry is another of Mary Kubica’s offerings. I believe I’ve read three of her books this year, (which may in fact be all of her books!) so I guess you can call me a fan. This one might actually be my favorite of hers so far. Lastly, my book for the September Reading Challenge was The Light Between Oceans. I was instructed to read a book on the current NYT Bestseller list. Since this one was just also turned into a movie, I thought I’d check it out. It started off slow and I worried for my choice, but after a while, I was engrossed and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I believe I would consider it my favorite read this month.

And, so, I am now officially 49 books in to my 75 goal and exactly 7 books behind schedule! I better hustle!

A Fresh Infusion of Joy by Sheila Walsh: A Book Review

_140_245_book-1998-coverCould you use a joy infusion?

When was the last time you had a spontaneous laugh because your heart was absolutely overwhelmed with joy?

Whether you’re facing mundane routines or painful hardships, joy often feels out of reach. But those who know Jesus can live joyfully, no matter what—it’s a gift that can only come from God. Jesus engulfs His followers with great love so that He may fill them with His joy.

Bestselling author Sheila Walsh invites you to discover daily joy. Through funny and inspiring stories, powerful takeaways, and encouraging scriptures, Sheila shows that joy sometimes comes from gratitude, God’s beautiful creation, grace, or simply delighting in God’s goodness and love. And it always comes from spending time in Jesus’ presence. He brings life, restoration, and . . . joy!

The 5 Minutes with Jesus series is the perfect way to start your day with a joyful heart.

My Review: I don’t know what it is about the word JOY that just gets me. I love joy and when I saw the title of this devotional and that it was written by Sheila Walsh, it definitely caught my eye!

This is a very nice devotional and I love that it’s made to be read in just a few short minutes. Not that I think devotional time should be rushed or timed, but with the busyness of life these days, time is precious and I think this devotional does a good job of making those 5 minutes count.

Each devotion begins with a story or thought that inspires joy. It doesn’t take long to read them, but Sheila does a very good job of getting her point across in just a page or two for each. My favorite thing about this devotional is that it is packed with scripture. You may only be spending 5 minutes in this devotional, but most of that time will be spent meditating on the word. I love that.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to read this devotional and becoming even more so a lover of joy!

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

Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs: A Book Review

9781601428615About Really Bad Girls of the Bible

Discover the Truth About
God’s Sovereignty
from the Bible’s Really Bad Girls.Eight of the Bible’s most notorious females strut across the pages of Really Bad Girls of the Biblewith troubles that still hit home in the twenty-first century.The Medium of En Dor crossed over to the dark side. Jael stood up to a ruthless enemy. TheAdulteress was caught between a rock and a hard place. Athaliah made a bid for power that ended badly. Bathsheba captured the wandering eye of a king. Herodias made a cruel request of her husband. Tamar exchanged her widow’s weeds for a harlot’s garb. And the Bleeding Woman had a serious health issue only a great physician could handle.

“Higgs does such a remarkable job telling their stories that many of the Good Book’s ‘bad girls’ become downright sympathetic.… Higgs is a refreshingly astute biblical commentator…(and) ably points readers to ‘good girl’ tips they can apply from the Bible’s cautionary tales.”
—Publishers Weekly

Really Bad Girls of the Bible
shines a spotlight on God’s sovereignty, demonstrating one life-changing truth: God rules the lives of those He loves with mercy, compassion, and hope.

My Review: This is one of those books that has been around for some time, and I’ve always meant to read, but haven’t. Now I finally have and I’m quite glad that I did. This is a revised edition published in 2016, so I’m not sure how it differs from the original publication.

I really love the idea of exploring the lives of some of the lesser known women in the bible. Those imperfect women who were “bad” to some degree or another. Higgs takes these biblical stories and weaves a modern retelling into them to help us relate to these women and their lives just a little bit more.

As I read this book, some of the women were familiar, and some were more of a vague recollection to me. Reading their stories told with a modern twist really brought them to life for me in a new way. Some of these women were courageous in their choices and some were downright evil. Definitely, they all made some questionable decisions and they all have a story to tell. There is no doubt we can learn some valuable lessons from these women.

Higgs doesn’t just stick with the modern retelling though, she brings the actual biblical stories to life as well and offers a lot of insight into them. This is a really unique and valuable book and I think it’s definitely one that is worth reading.

I’m sure that as I study the bible in the future or hear about these women in a sermon or another book, I will look at their stories differently. Definitely a recommended read.

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


August Reading Round-Up!


It’s September. August has flown by and summer is on it’s way out! It’s been an incredibly busy summer and I know my reading has suffered as a result. I am hopeful that with fall comes a more relaxed schedule and much more time to catch up on my reading.

You’ll never guess how many books I read this month? Yep, 5! How did you know? I’m currently about 8 books behind schedule for the year, and I’m starting to feel the pressure to catch up.

Below we shall explore the books I have read for August:

Wow! I just realized that only one book was for review purposes, and that was Uninvited. (I actually did have another review book, but for the first time in the history of ever, I refused to finish it. It was, to put it mildly, vulgar and pornographic.) Three out of five books were library picks by authors I’ve come to truly enjoy. Those were The Good Girl, Truly Madly Guilty and Crowned and Dangerous. And, the last book I read was of course, for my monthly Reading Challenge. That was, to read a classic. I chose a beautiful copy of The Secret Garden. I purchased it at Barnes & Noble specifically for the occasion.

I can honestly say that aside from the disappointing experience with the unfinished book, this entire month has been full of really good reads. It’s really hard to say which was the best of the best, but I would have to choose Uninvited. The only non-fiction book of the group, this book has left a lasting impact on me and reached the very core of my heart on many levels. I highly recommend it to any girl who struggles with fitting in in this glittering world. Among the novels, while they were all excellent, I’d have to choose Truly Madly Guilty as my favorite. I have become a huge fan of Liane Moriarty, though I’ve only read two of her novels to date.

Now comes the time in the post where I promise to do better next month and read more books. I hope to. I really, really do.

After all…

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Until next month…that’s all folks!

365 Pocket Morning Prayers, My Review

978-1-4964-1334-5Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you.

My Review: I love this little book! First of all, it’s beautifully bound and adorably sized! But, more importantly, the content is enriching. This book is broken up into 365 daily prayers. Each prayer is one page. It’s a very quick and easy read, but it packs a lot into each day and I am amazed by how much I take away from this each morning. Each prayer also includes a scripture and I’ve found the prayers so far to be quite relatable. Because each day’s reading is short, I feel like it really leaves a lot of time to meditate and ponder on each one. I obviously have not read all 365 pages yet, but so far I’ve really gotten quite a bit of depth from each day. I think this is an excellent way to start each day, and it’s nice to know that even on days when time is running short, you can still include this in your morning. I believe that quality is more important than quanity, and this book exemplifies that quite well.

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