Books reviewed on this site have been provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. All reviews are my honest opinions.

September 4, 2017

When Parenting Isn't Perfect {Jim Daly}

when parenting isn't perfect jim daly
Perfection is the enemy of parenting. Jim Daly sees and hears from mothers and fathers trying hard to pursue perfection. They listen to the best experts and read all the right books. When someone gives them a “World’s Best Mom” or “No. 1 Dad” coffee mug, they want it to be true. And they want their children to pursue perfection, too.

It’s admirable for parents to be the very best moms and dads they can be for their children. But sometimes in so doing, they leave grace behind—both for themselves and their children. Jim believes that our quest for perfection, a quest that he believes is particularly strong among Christians, runs counter to God’s own boundless gift of grace. We can become Pharisaical parents, quoting endless rules and holding everyone to impossible standards. But God doesn’t want us, and our kids don’t need us, to be perfect. As parents, we’re called to simply do our best. And when we fail—which we will—we’re called to try again tomorrow.

Though he’s the President of Focus on the Family, Jim does not promise that his book will be a catalyst for a perfect family. But it can help point the way toward a good family—one that feels safe and warm; one filled with love and laughter. This book will encourage mothers and fathers to embrace the messiness of parenthood and show grace to their own less-than-ideal children. Jim, through his own experiences, expertise, and array of stories, will lead both moms and dads to a better understanding of what being a good family is all about.


My Thoughts:
I love listening to Jim Daly on the Focus on the Family podcast each week, and I looked forward to getting my hands on this book when he started talking about it on air. From listening to Daly, I knew I would enjoy his book. Truth? It has been a long time since I enjoyed a parenting book as much as I loved this one.

Daly brings real life to pages of this book, often bringing his own struggles and family to use as examples of just how un-perfect we all are. This parenting gig is hard and I enjoyed the tidbits of information, references to scripture, quotes from experts, and real language used throughout this entire book.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the entire section on marriage. It is not often a parenting book takes a timeout to discuss the importance of marriage, but this book does just that. It goes without saying that having a strong and faithful marriage can go a long way in easing the burden of parenting, but not many authors take the time to point that out.

I also appreciate the Daly family for allowing their lives to be exposed through this book. Knowing the struggles they go through simply enhances the effectiveness of the message in this book.

There is a lot of highlighting and notes in my copy of this book and I plan on pulling it out often as a reference and encouragement as my husband and I journey on this parenting gig. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for real-life parenting advice with encouragement and the truth of Jesus' love.


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August 14, 2017

The Beloved Hope Chest {Amy Clipston}

the beloved hope chest amy clipston
Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it's a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it's past time to share it.

My Thoughts:
This is one Amish Fiction unlike most of those I have read in the past. Instead of being the picture of happiness and life together, this book tackles death, heartache, and marriages that do not look like the perfect picture of love.

I have not read the first three books in this series, but I immediately felt a connection with Mattie and all the pain that came her way as quickly as this book began. This book opens with the death of her beloved husband and her challenge to create a life for herself and her unborn child. I honestly thought she entered into another marriage much too quickly, but understood her reasoning and the pressure of her culture to have a husband.

Leroy is a man any reader can admire. He went through a rough childhood but came out a hard-working man determined to find love and happiness for himself. His love for Mattie comes through in everything he does and I wanted nothing more than for him and Mattie to find a way to make their marriage work.

This book may be about Mattie and Leroy, but it highlights the problems so many people have in their marriages today. One suffers a loss or goes through tremendous grief and their response is to close themselves off and run. So many people give up on their marriages because they do not feel they can talk to their spouse about the personal things in their lives. Although Mattie and Leroy live in the Amish community and try to abide by their beliefs, their problems are the same so many have today.


I will not tell you how this book ends, but I will tell you faith in God became a part in Mattie and Leroy finding their own happiness in life. It takes a lot of faith in yourself, your spouse, and God to make things work and I appreciated both characters working through those things both alone and together.


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August 10, 2017

Chasing Secrets {Lynette Eason}

chasing secrets lynette eason
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.

My Thoughts:
I think this might be my favorite book in this series - and this has been a series I have enjoyed a lot!

This book focuses on Haley, and she has all kinds of drama going on in her life. Several people are on a mission to end her life, and she has just found out her past is completely different than what she has been told her entire life. All this would be enough to send anyone into hiding, but Haley stands her ground and turns to God with each new thing that creeps up on her.

I enjoyed meeting Steven. He has returned to town, joined the police force, and immediately becomes intertwined in Haley and the investigations she is running. The sparks that fly between them are hot and heavy, and I could not wait for them to admit their attraction to each other.

This book is full of surprises I never saw coming, and characters I immediately fell in love with. I loved this plot, and the ending is just amazing.

You can read this as a stand-alone, but do yourself a favor and read the entire series. It is that good.


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August 3, 2017

The Two of Us {Victoria Bylin}

the two of us victoria bylin
After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans. 

Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding. 

Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

My Thoughts:
I liked Mia. Almost immediately. I liked her determination to do what she felt God was leading her to do and her willingness to give up everything else in her life to follow that calling. I thought Mia could teach many of so many things about listening to God and following his instructions through our lives.

I felt the love that formed between Mia and Jake was beautiful. Both were willing to listen to God and change their lives in order to serve Him, regardless of where it left their relationship.


I thought this was a beautiful story of love, friendship, and following God’s directions in life. A book worth putting on your reading list for sure.


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July 27, 2017

Secret Sisters {Joy Callaway}

secret sisters joy callaway
Illinois, 1881: Whitsitt College sophomore Beth Carrington has two goals to fulfill by the time she graduates: obtain a medical degree, and establish a women’s fraternity, Beta Xi Beta, that will help young women like herself to connect with and support one another while attending the male-dominated Whitsitt.

Neither is an easy task. The sole female student in the physicians’ program, Beth is constantly called out by her professors and peers for having the audacity not to concentrate on a more “fitting” subject like secretarial studies. Meanwhile, secret organizations are off-limits, and simply by crowding together in a dank basement room and creating a sense of camaraderie, she and her small group of fraternity sisters risk expulsion.

In order to have the fraternity recognized, she knows she needs help. She turns to the most powerful student on campus: senior Grant Richardson, Iota Gamma fraternity president and the scion of a Whitsitt family—a man she’s only acquainted with because of her longstanding friendship with his fraternity brother Will Buchannan. Staunchly traditional, Grant doesn’t see the purpose of this women’s organization, but captivated by Beth, he agrees to give her a helping hand. What she doesn’t know is how many will stop at nothing to keep her burgeoning organization out of the record books—and who she can actually trust along the way.

As Beth fights for her beloved Beta Xi Beta to be recognized, she will uncover deep secrets about the college and those who surround her, and will have to put both love and friendship on the line so that history can be made.

My Thoughts:
Occasionally a book will come along that is not in the Christian genre but will sound too good to pass up. That happened with this book. Being a sorority girl myself (Sigma Sigma Sigma) I was intrigued by a book based on the first women's fraternity.

I fell in love with these characters immediately and found myself completely engrossed in the work they were doing at Whitsitt college. I felt for them each time a staff or faculty member put them down for being a woman. I cheered them on when they stood up for themselves in ways women today could not imagine necessary. And I suddenly found myself reciting the knock, pledge, and intricacies of Beta Xi Beta. Oh, the sorority life just draws me in.

The women who founded the first fraternity were truly pioneers of their day. They saw what men had and they fought and sacrificed to create a sisterhood for themselves. They worked hard, had to be creative, and were the utmost in risky in order to achieve their dreams. All greek women today should be proud of those first sisters and the way they made for each of us today.

This story is both entertaining and beautifully written. It touches on Greek life, college life for women, and throws enough romance in to make your heart melt. I loved every minute I spent in these pages and am so glad I gave a chance to a book not typically in my reading pile.


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July 24, 2017

Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet {Jessica Kastner}

hiding from the kids in my prayer closet jessica kastner
Soon after Jessica Kastner became a mother, she wondered if she was the only mom who found pretend play more boring than watching playdough harden and who dreaded yet another friend s Instagram post of homemade deliciousness. 

In Hiding from My Kids in the Prayer Closet, Kastner shares her experience as an unmom a mom who loves her kids more than she loves the daily experience of mothering. She helps readers laugh at the ridiculous, delight in the unpredictable, and enjoy being the mothers God made them to be.

My Thoughts:
Wow! I'm not the helicopter, lovey-dovey, play-in-the-floor mom that many of my peers are, but at least I can find something great to say about being a mom each and every day.

I honestly thought this book was going to be a self-help type book full of advice on how to cope as an unmom, and tips for praying for our kids. Instead, it is a collection of essays complaining about motherhood. Being a mom is tough, I get it. But this is just over kill about all the horrible things about being a parent. I hope these poor kids never read this book when they are older because they are going to be so disappointed in finding out how their mom thought of them.


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July 20, 2017

Ghost Heart {Lisa Harris, Lynne Gentry}

ghost heart lisa harris lynne gentry
A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline. 

My Thoughts:
This book. I admit this book started a little slow for me and I was concerned it was not going to hold my attention. But I am so glad I kept with it because it turned out to be one of the best books I have read in a long time.

The first many chapters of this book are used to introduce us to characters and their settings. Much of this book is set in Africa, but several chapters are set in America as the Taylor family struggles to keep their daughter alive. Once Charlotte and Kelsey arrive in Africa for Kelsey's heart transplant, we get to see this book come to life.

Scandle is taking place at every turn, and more than a handful of characters find themselves fighting for the right to live. Secrets are revealed, relationships are tested, and several surprises come to light as Mia fights to discover the truth behind the Africa transplant patients. I found myself completely intrigued by the story line and saddened to remember that human sacrifice for profit has been a reality in some parts of our world.

Harris and Gentry to an amazing job with this story and it is worth a spot on your reading list.

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