“Imperfect Justice” by Cara Putman

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The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister – right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl – and find a future for themselves in the process?

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Cara Putman penned the perfect mystery in Imperfect Justice.  Building layer upon layer of intrigue and suspense, she’ll keep you guessing until the very last chapter.

Putman writes realistic characters that you’ll want to cheer on to success in their endeavors – in this case, in finding the truth about what happened to Kaylene Adams.  Emilie is a determined lawyer and caring person, and I love the way that she navigated the waves of trouble that kept coming her way.

I enjoyed Reid’s journey to realization about how distant his family had become.  Family is an important thing, and the lessons that Reid learned throughout this story are ones that we should all heed.

The best part of this story is the reality of the trouble that Kaylene finds herself in – well, the best and worst.  It’s very realistic, which keeps the suspense factor high.  That reality is what makes it sad, though, because the thought of someone actually experiencing what Kaylene did is awful – but Putman handles the situation carefully.  Between the problems that Emilie sees at work, Kaylene’s situation, and Emilie’s unique problem itself, any reader will understand why it’s important to choose a relationship carefully. Putman provides hope for the reader and valuable lessons about a woman’s worth no matter her current romantic situation, and I appreciate the theme that she’s leaving readers with:  that God loves you for you, and it’s never to late to find hope and help if you need it.

Putman’s Imperfect Justice is dramatic and suspenseful both, and I love the combination.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or click here to purchase a copy now.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

 

“Seeds of Hope” by Barbara Cameron

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Miriam Troyer has had a secret crush on Mark Byler since they were teenagers. She knows they can never have a relationship: Mark is a big-city attorney – an “Englischer” – and Miriam loves her quiet way of life in her Amish community. But when Mark unexpectedly shows up in Paradise, Pennsylvania, Miriam realizes it’s going to get a lot harder to hide her feelings.

Even though Mark always loved visiting his grandfather’s farm as a boy, he’s convinced the Amish life is not for him. But when he suddenly finds himself out of a job and without direction, Mark heads back to the farm just in time to help with the harvest. Coming for a visit and coming to stay, however, are two very different things.

Everything changes when Mark sees that Miriam, the girl he remembers from his youth, has grown into the kind of faith-filled woman he wants in his future. Could life in this simple world be right for Mark after all? Has Miriam finally found her happily ever after? True love sprouts from seeds of hope.

 
Cameron
 
Seeds of Hope is a sweet story of deep and lasting love – between family, between friends, and between neighbors.  I love the way that Cameron portrays the relationships between this Amish community in Paradise, Pennsylvania.
 
Just like in real life, there’s a variety of relationships here, and I like the way that Cameron wove them together.  It made for a fun story, and bringing in these people serve not only as great examples of model behavior but also an avenue for introducing interesting subplots.
 
I can’t say that Seeds of Hope is unpredictable; really, how many possible endings are there for a romance taking place in an Amish community, really?  That doesn’t make the path to the ultimate ending any less interesting, though, because you can feel the drama and heartache that the journey causes.  There are lessons to be learned and fun to be had, and I enjoyed the ride.
 
I’ve read several of Cameron’s books, but I think that Seeds of Hope is the best one yet.
 
Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“The Gift of Christmas Past” by Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

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Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Promises shattered.
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. 

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

 
Woodsmall
 
I love, love, love this book!  Hadley is such an exciting character.  She’s an overcomer, in the words of Mandisa, and even though her life has been unspeakably hard, she continually looks outward at how she can use her experiences to help others.  I love that perspective.  Elliott is just as fun – because even though she’s not quite as together as Hadley, maybe, she’s all in for being generous and smart and working toward the combined improvement of their circumstances.  I love their willingness to stick together and work together.
 
Monroe is complicated, but I love the stance that he takes near the end of the book, and if there was any doubt in my mind about his character, that resolved it.  I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil anything, but he turns out to be a pretty cool guy – a dreamy one, you might say.
 
The setting is amazing, too.  Taking place in the Asheville area of North Carolina, that’s only a few hours west of me, and I’ve been there several times.  French Broad Chocolates is now definitely on my list of places to go, and I love walking through the downtown area.  The Woodsmalls nailed the quirky character of that downtown, and I’ve seen several of the landmarks that they named – it’s always fun to come across a place you know in a book!  Biltmore Village is a fun place to shop, and the Estate itself is incredibly beautiful.  The same goes for Looking Glass Falls – I could just picture the scene that happens there.  Their lifelike descriptions definitely match the real places.
 
There are lots of twists and turns in the plot for this story, and I really enjoyed that.  I didn’t want to put this book down while reading – and I procrastinated several times to avoid doing so.  I loved the lessons of forgiveness and faith that shone clearly throughout the story.  I’m not sure those are things I’ll ever perfect, or at least be able to do after being seriously hurt without a struggle, and I’m always encouraged by the story of others’ journey in this area (even if it’s a fictional one).
 
The Gift of Christmas Past is a fantastic new holiday story.  Pick up a copy today – you’ll be glad you did.
 
You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here, or go here to purchase your own copy now.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.
 

“She Reads Truth” Bible Review & Giveaway

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The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization. 

Features include: almost 200 devotionals, artist-designed key verses, 35 full-color timelines, 20 full-color maps, 11 full-color charts, reading plans for every book of the Bible, one-year Bible reading plan, detailed book introductions, key verse list, carefully curated topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking.The  She Reads Truth Bible features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text. Translated by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible features an optimal blend of accuracy and readability that’s faithful for serious study, and written with heart-stirring clarity that inspires readers to live and share it.

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The She Reads Truth Bible is BEAUTIFUL!  I love the bright colors and pretty fonts throughout the Bible … because really, while I would read my Bible whether it’s pretty or not, isn’t having a pretty thing that’s been uniquely designed for you just extra special?
 
Bible
 
There are lots of things to love about this Bible, though.  One of them is the cover itself.  It’s a hardback book, but it’s linen-covered with gold lettering and a rather solid cover.  That thick, heavy cover makes the Bible feel sturdy, and it even comes in a case that would further protect it.  I’ve had several Bibles wear out completely, but this one feels as if it would last for a long time.  It would be a great choice for a Bible that travels with you, perhaps, like the one you tuck in a bag to take to Bible study or church.  While that salmon-y orange-y color is not exactly my favorite (which I realize is very picky of me – to worry about the color of the cover!) it is bright and cheerful, and I appreciate that.
 
Now, some of the points I want to make may seem a little unusual for reasons why you should consider using this Bible – like the color of the cover above.  In the United States, we are not limited to access to Bibles like so many other people are around the world.  That’s a huge blessing!  It also means that I have a collection of them going, and the kids and I use all of them.  We appreciate all sorts of things about different ones.  We might pull a Bible off the shelf because of the great maps that it has, or to compare two translations, or because it’s size is handy for where we’re going.  So if this list of pros seems unusual, that’s why – and I am very thankful for being able to compare and own multiple Bibles.

Bible

I LOVE the ‘artistic’ touches spread throughout this Bible.  There are 66 scripture verses that are set apart from the others and are made special through font, color, and artistic garnish.  These catch my attention and make them stand out.  I enjoy looking at them, and the creative writing helps me to remember the wording – because memorization is a very hard thing for me.

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See?  Isn’t it pretty?

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My Big Helper and I attend Bible journaling classes at our church.  We love pulling out favorite or meaningful scriptures and trying to make them stand out like this, but I struggle with lettering.  I love having these examples right in front of me, there in the Bible!

Another great feature of this Bible is the extra wide margins.  I’ve only ever seen big margins like these in journaling Bibles, which this isn’t – but you could definitely use it as such.  I’m not a big fan of covering up the words, but here there’s lots of room for your art or notes to go to the side of the scripture, and the creamy page color is a great backdrop for whatever you put on your page.

Each book of the Bible has information preceeding it.  There’s not quite as much information as in my study Bibles, but there’s more than enough to provide food for thought.  It provides a good summary, key scriptures, and some background information – just what I need to dig in.

I love the humbleness and down-to-earth quality of the devotions scattered throughout the Bible – in fact, even my Big Helper commented on that when she used it.  They’re written seemingly by the woman down the street – somebody I might take a walk with after lunch or hang out with at the playground while the kids play.  They make good points, but they feel very relevant to me specifically, and in the crazy busy season of life we’re in, I really appreciate that.

Lastly, this She Reads Truth Bible is in the CSB translation.  This was the first Bible I’ve seen in this translation, and I appreciate the fresh look at scripture.  

Basically, the She Reads Truth Bible feels like it was created just for me – for a busy mom-woman who needs a little pretty and a lot of truth in her life.  I love it!

If you’d like to purchase your own copy, you can go here – or go here to enter a giveaway for one of seven She Reads Truth Bibles.

I received a free copy of this book from Frontgate Media.  All opinions are my own.

“Christmas at Grey Sage” by Phyllis Clark Nichols

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Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There’s plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn’s owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year’s guests from across the country.

But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded guests discover this Christmas won’t be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlocks tongues and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.

In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations, of tales of days gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends – proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

 
Nichols
Reading Christmas at Grey Sage will put you in the Christmas spirit, no matter how far from it you start!  Nichols has written a sweet story of healing and holiday fun.  It’s like settling in with a warm cup of hot chocolate after a cold walk outside.  Somehow her words settle into your spirit and warm your soul.  Even when there are exciting things happening on the pages, and I didn’t want to put the book down, the story stayed sweet.
 
Sometimes you’re in the mood for a fast-paced, hard core mystery; others, you need something soothing, and Christmas at Grey Sage is just that kind of story.  I think it’s because Maude always seems to have everything together, even when you know she really doesn’t.  She stays calm in the pages of the book, even when you learn about her tragic past, and she lends an air of sweetness to the whole thing.
 
That’s  not to say that everyone is as calm as Maude.  Nearly every other character is, at best, downright quirky.  Bea gets most facts wrong and Lily is full of fire, just to name a few, but they keep the mood lighthearted and fun.
 
I love the way that Nichols explores deep life lessons throughout the story and her wide cast of characters.  The things with which her characters must deal are things we all face at one time or another, ‘seeing’ others deal with them successfully is encouraging.
 
I really enjoyed this story.  It’s just the kind I want to pick up at Christmas – fun and lighthearted but meaningful.  Check out this new book!
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Indescribable” by Louie Giglio

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Indescribable is a new devotional for kids written by Louie Giglio, and I’m in love with it!  This is an excellent resource for kids.  Indescribable has 100 devotions focused on showcasing the amazing creativity of Creation from a scientific standpoint.  It features cool science facts, photography, and super colorful drawings.  Each devotion has scripture, a story, application, and neat stuff about science.

Giglio

One of the things I love about this book is the way that Giglio points out the awesome creativity and attention to detail in our Creator – and the devotions are written in such a way that you’ll be admiring these as you go throughout your day.  After reading the science facts, you’ll find yourself appreciating Creation all the more.

Another aspect of this book that I love is the way that the science facts support the amazingness of creation.  Often people try to turn that around – to say that science tears apart the idea of faith – but that couldn’t be less true.  The intricateness of the natural world points to a Creator, just as the Bible says, and Indescribable points to that truth.

The devotions in this book are all in the following areas:  

  • Space, galaxies, planets, and stars
  • Earth, geology, oceans, and weather
  • Animals
  • Our minds, bodies, and imaginations.

My Little Man is going to be SO EXCITED to read these “scientific devotions.”  It will give him the opportunity to combine several of his deep, long-time loves:  God, science, and reading.  I love the focus Giglio has put on these four areas, and that’s also the only thing I think could be improved; in the book, these four areas are all mixed up.  I would have liked to see all the space devotions in the same part of the book, for instance.

Beyond that picky thing, this book is fantastic.  I can’t wait for My Little Man to read it and to shout excitedly, “Mommy, you know what?”  I love hearing him be excited to learn more about Jesus, and to learn more about the world that God created, and I know that Indescribable will do just that.

Giglio

Want to win a copy of Indescribable?  Click here!  Or go here to purchase your own copy now.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

“The Gift” by Shelley Shepard Gray

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The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous accidents that someone wants them gone.

Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.

Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her.  She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurts – or worse.

The Gift

Gray hits another one out of the park with her holiday offering, The Gift!  She really keeps you on the edge of Santa’s sleigh as you try to figure out whether the incidents surrounding Susanna are accidents – or something more dangerous.

The blossoming relationship between Neil and Susanna doesn’t happen smoothly.  It’s shadowed by increasingly dangerous problems, and I loved the realistic suspense that builds throughout the story.  Gray’s a fabulous writer, and her descriptions of the problems confronting the Schwartz family ring scary and true on each page.

I liked Susanna and Neil.  They were both likeable but not perfect, and they felt like they could be the neighbors up the street.  I love how she makes her characters feel so alive.  Somehow she had me cheering them on from the very first page.

I’m loving Gray’s Amish of Hart County series, and The Gift might just be my favorite one yet.  

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Deadly Proof” by Rachel Dylan

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In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan is tapped as lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical because of a corporate cover-up related to its newest drug. After a whistleblower dies, Kate knows the stakes are much higher than her other lawsuits.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James is still haunted by mistakes made while serving overseas. Trying to forget the past, he is hired by Kate to look into the whistleblower’s allegation and soon suspects that the company may be engaging in a dangerous game for profit. He also soon finds himself falling for this passionate and earnest young lawyer. Determined not to make the same mistakes, he’s intent on keeping Kate safe, but as the case deepens, it appears someone is willing to risk everything–even murder–to keep the case from going to trial.

 
Rachel Dylan
 
The Deadly Proof  is in the pudding – you won’t be able to put it down!  Dylan’s newest book is a fast-paced, suspense story full of drama and action.
 
I loved the way that Kate was super smart and willing to do the right thing, no matter the time or consequence.  She knew where her priorities lie, and she stuck with them.
 
Landon was just as fascinating – kind of like Gibbs on NCIS.  He’s dealing with lots of emotional traumaand not always very well, but his goals are good and true.  His backstory is hidden, at first, and Dylan lets it pour out slowly through the story, giving you just enough to whet your appetite for more.
 
Deadly Proof has a big, surprising twist at the end.  I thought it was all sounding a little too clean, and I enjoyed the way that Dylan wrote the climax and resolution.
 
I had a bit of trouble in the beginning keeping track of characters.  This was in part because there were a lot of lawyers in the large cast of characters, and partly because it wasn’t clear in the beginning which ones were the good guys and which ones were the bad guys.  Somehow my confusion suddenly cleared up, and I was good from that point on.
 
Deadly Proof is a very smart book.  It may be to a reader’s advantage to have some passing knowledge of law going in, in the same way that knowing something about tactical maneuvers might benefit a Ronie Kendig reader, but I trusted that Kate knew her legal stuff, and I didn’t worry about legal details.  Using that strategy, I was good to go throughout the story, and seemed to follow the action just fine.
 
I really enjoyed my time with Deadly Proof.  This was my first Dylan book, but I’m eagerly looking for more.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.
 

“Murder in Disguise” by Donn Taylor

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Official verdict: Suicide. But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.

While Press keeps asking questions, Mara’s research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend’s name.

But can Press and Mara’s stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger?

Donn Taylor
 
Preston Barclay is a bumbling, yet exciting protagonist who will keep you turning page after page as he tries not to solve his friend’s murder.  When he becomes the target of strange attacks and even stranger conversations with other professors, Preston stumbles upon clue after clue and begins to put the mystery together.
 
Preston is not your typical main character.  He’s a little more advanced in age, for one thing, and is quite quirky.  Having lost his musician wife a few years before, he hears music as a soundtrack to his life.  He seems to be quite addicted to ham sandwiches and coffee.  Press is also loyal and smart.  He’s observant and dedicated to his friends, as well as being a strong person of faith.  He’s a neat main character, and I enjoyed reading about him.  
 
It was unusual, too, the way that Preston was clearly not  trying to solve a mystery, and yet developments kept coming.  This, along with some of Preston’s idiosyncrasies, makes the story especially entertaining.  The mood of Murder in Disguise is not as scary as other mystery-suspense stories that I’ve read, but I really liked the bits of humor scattered throughout.  I’ll definitely read more of Donn Taylor.
 
I received a free copy of Murder in Disguise from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.
 

“Where We Belong” by Lynn Austin

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In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

 
Lynn Austin
 
I want to be just like the Hawes sisters when I grow up!  They’re the neatest people.  I love the way that they don’t let themselves be defined by Victorian standards and how they stand up for what they feel is right, no matter the repercussions.  From clothing choices to how they spend their time, Flora and Rebecca do exactly what they feel God is leading them to do.
 
I love their refrain: God knows the hour of our end, so there’s no need to worry”  (That’s my summary of it, not an exact quote.)  I’m horrible about worrying and seeing trouble around every corner, so I loved hearing this motto throughout the story.  Having it come up whenever trouble was in sight was a great way to remember what is really important.
 
The sisters were fascinating main characters.  I loved the history embedded in the story, but their pluck and sense of adventure was by far my favorite part.  I loved their willingness – no, their determination – to head out on an adventure, whether it was down the street or overseas.  That’s exactly the kind of person I want to be!  
 
Austin wrote the perfect ending for the sisters.  Their life does not give them the neat-and-tidy ending they wanted, but it does fit the plot of the story and the character of the women.  I enjoyed seeing it play out and couldn’t wait to find out what happened – although I didn’t want it to end!
 
I was shocked when I turned the last page and found out that the Hawes sisters were based on real women.  Who knew?  I’ve never heard of the real people before, but I definitely want to learn more about them now.  They sound like super interesting people, and I love that Austin took a piece of truth and built such fascinating characters around real women.
 
I haven’t read an Austin book yet that is less than wonderful, but they seem each to get better by turn.  Where We Belong is my favorite Austin offering yet.
 
I received a free copy of  Where We Belong from the author.  All opinions are my own.