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Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles)
Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles)
by Bonnie S. Calhoun
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.99
44 used & new from $1.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Action and Symbolism, October 30, 2015
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Let me start by saying this is not a genre I typically read, so if the story if breaking any of the dystopian/sci-fi rules of storytelling, I wouldn't know. What I do know is that this unique coming-of-age story brought me to the edge of my seat. The author is extremely talented in describing action in detail, which includes a few violent scenes. She's quite good at making you love the heroine and her hero, as well! The romance threaded throughout the story is sweet, but what really pulled me through the book is Selah's feisty desire for independence and the responsibility that befalls her to save the broken world in which she lives. You cannot read this book without drawing comparisons to our own world, and without wanting to read the others in the series!


The Cheer Leader (Front Porch Paperbacks)
The Cheer Leader (Front Porch Paperbacks)
by Jill McCorkle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95
82 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Story You Won't Forget, September 18, 2015
The Cheer Leader, one of McCorkle’s earliest novels (1984), portrays the angst weighing on Jo Spencer in her teens, and how it finally brings her down in her twenties when she goes for the wrong guy in college. The story has lingered with me since I read it years ago and is, in part, behind Lift the Lid, the charity I founded, which encourages students to use the power of writing to shout, This is what I’m dealing with! Listen to me! I mean something! I’m grateful for this book's inspiration and look forward to reading McCorkle's latest novel Life After Life.


The Sound of Diamonds (Steadfast Love Book 1)
The Sound of Diamonds (Steadfast Love Book 1)
Price: $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Story, July 6, 2015
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This young writer has a promising career as a novelist ahead of her! Beside being a great storyteller and knowing her subject, in this case the Reformation, Rachelle Rea is a stunning writer. As a reader, I'm not so plot focused as I am interested in good writing, even if the book is not my usual genre. Rea puts her creative energy into the language as she carefully crafts each and every sentence. This attention to the flow of words makes The Sound of Diamonds a beautiful story.

Another strength I attribute to The Sound of Diamonds is suspense. I felt pulled into the action from page one, wanting to know what will happen next. The story starts in the Low Countries of Holland, during the height of the Reformation, and Rea does not shy from the violence and confusion of the times. She carefully makes the struggle personal (and human) through her characters' struggle/desire for freedom, understanding, honor, and eventually love.


The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Return
The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Return
by Susan B. Shapiro
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.52
91 used & new from $1.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful and Important Book, July 2, 2015
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The retelling of Kenan Trebincevic's experiences surviving ethnic cleansing at the age of eleven comes from a heartfelt place, which is felt behind every vivid scene. We see the violence through a child's eyes, through his fear, his curiosity, his embarrassment, and eventually through his anger and his dreams of revenge. The fighting continues inside him long after the war ends; it puts him in chains, but The Bosnia List in beautiful detail shows how time, understanding, bravery, and forgiveness can undue the chains of war, one link at a time.

I can recommend The Bosnia List with five stars for three specific reasons: I've never read a memoir that brought me this near to the action; I immediately identified with the author as his younger self; and the close look at humanity on all sides gives this war story a tenderness that doesn't lessen the brutality, but certainly provides answers.


The Consummate Traitor (Treason)
The Consummate Traitor (Treason)
by Bonnie Toews
Edition: Paperback
8 used & new from $5.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Unimaginable Suffering and Unbreakable Bonds, May 9, 2015
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If you like spy novels, history books, romance and adventure, you won't be able to put down The Consummate Traitor. And I'll warn you, when you do emerge from the world of the story, you'll find it has become a part of your soul. Toews does not hold back evoking emotion, compelling us to experience the suffering of WWII, as well as the unfailing love that survives its destruction. You will feel as though you are there, in every scene she writes, a part of the action and the history.

Toews's deep understanding of her characters' fears and desires, their strengths and sense of duty is what makes this work of fiction completely believable. Her confident handle of the plot's twists and turns will whip you through the story like a joy ride, although you'll find yourself crying at times, maybe even shouting out loud. With two beautiful, talented, and courageous female protagonists, both capable of altering the course of the war, and both susceptible to falling in love with the wrong men . . . The Consummate Traitor is an emotional journey on many levels.

Finally, what struck me about The Consummate Traitor is the research that went into writing it. Astounding. From the social etiquettes of the elite to the norms of espionage . . . from the type of limousine Danish royalty drove to the streets a local cabbie might take in Berlin to avoid the madness of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the details are in place. The true beauty of The Consummate Traitor comes from Toews's portrayal of history and the glimmers of love that persisted throughout the darkest of times.


Dauntless (Valiant Hearts) (Volume 1)
Dauntless (Valiant Hearts) (Volume 1)
by Dina L. Sleiman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.89
79 used & new from $2.12

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Teens . . . But Not Just for Teens, May 5, 2015
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I work with teens through an educational charity I run that supports underprivileged schools. I'm always looking for inspirational YA literature to send to our teens, most of whom are desperate for a role model. Dauntless by Dina Sleiman, a story of adventure and romance set in Medieval Times, qualifies on every level.

Having well-rounded main characters is essential to inspirational fiction, in my opinion, and especially for teens who have an excellent "fake" radar and who want to connect with the problems/weaknesses of others (so they don't feel alone in their own problems.) Dauntless, a spin on the classic fairy tale Robin Hood, steps forward with a new beloved bandit, a young woman. Lady Merry has lost her nobility, she's resorted to stealing to survive, and though she's the leader of the outcasts in her village, she feels very much alone. Merry is scared, she misses her parents, and she longs for her old life in the castle, but not for a second does she waver in her new life as a nomad, a mother to the orphaned children in her care, and a fierce hunter. Sleiman gives her readers a courageous heroine with loyalty in spades, who is also frightened and alone. You can't help but love her.

There are no lulls in the plot. The action is well-paced and interlaced with subtle (exciting) romantic developments from beginning to end. The story is anything but predictable and being a part of a series, it leaves you guessing (hoping for) the outcome. Merry's story of survival and love for the other outcasts and orphaned children, known as the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest, is further complicated by the dreams and ambitions of her supporting male character, Timothy Grey. Timothy is meek and dutiful, but the youngest of nine siblings, he has a strong desire for his own title and respect. Capturing the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest could be his big break, until he encounters their leader . . .

The quality of writing in Dauntless sets a standard for teens which will positively influence them in terms of the books they choose to read in the future and in their own writing. Sleiman does not miss an opportunity to bring a scene alive with unique descriptions, and at the same time, she doesn't slow down the plot with unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. She even weaves the vibrant forest into the character of Lady Merry, so that Merry almost becomes her natural surroundings when stealing loot from nobility passing through in their wagons.

Dauntless shows God's work in the characters' lives when they have faith and treat others with empathy and kindness. Teens may not admit they're looking for spiritual direction in their lives, but when they find it through something they enjoy, such as a great book, it becomes an example they're likely to follow. Through the trials and victories of the varied characters, and especially through Merry's story, Dauntless leaves a heart-warming and lasting impression, not just for teens, but for adults, as well. I'm in my forties, and the story, the characters, and the underlying message have me excited for the sequel!


No Plan B: Discovering God's Blueprint for your Life
No Plan B: Discovering God's Blueprint for your Life
Price: $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing First Step to the Right Path in Life, February 17, 2015
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Reading No Plan B: Discovering God's Blueprint for Your Life by Nelson Hannah, I learned that my relationship with God can be so much more than the 'forgive me' / 'help me' one-way dialogue I had accepted up until now. So many years I spoke to God, but didn't listen. I believed that He loved me, but didn't know how to love Him back.

Hannah uses the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, to explain his belief that we are entitled to the same relationship with God that Jesus experienced while on Earth, and that includes having direct communication, as well as having access to the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. Using examples from the Bible and in life, Hannah shows us that Jesus is our prototype, and that if we stand firm in our faith, His inheritance from God is also our inheritance.

I now recognize the thoughts that distance me from God. I see the difference between living and raising my children 'in Christ', as opposed to 'in society', 'the school system', or even in 'the church', which all have their own faults. If I stop panicking and stop centering my faith around my short-comings and my sins, I can fulfill my potential well beyond my expectations and encourage my children to do the same, through God, which is His Plan A.

I noticed a few reviews that recommend No Plan B for people who are already of a Christian faith, and I have to disagree. Even if it is curiosity, desperation, or skepticism that propels someone to pick up this book, there is room for revelation. Nelson Hannah gives a refreshing first step to getting on the right path in life: understand that your identity is in Jesus Christ and claim your inheritance from God!


The Wedding List: A London Christian romance (Love In Store Book 1)
The Wedding List: A London Christian romance (Love In Store Book 1)
Price: $0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Romance and More, January 17, 2015
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The Wedding List will fulfill your expectations of a sweet romance and inspire a deeper faith in God's love. Macarthur creates a heroine and hero, Beth and James, you'll fall in love with for their innocence and kindness, for the pain they've endured, and for the fears they must overcome.

I especially felt drawn to the love they feel for each other. Sparks fly from page one, but it's not just that. Their connection is grounded in a common worldview, and ultimately in their faith in God. The very real challenges they face from society and long-held insecurities kept them apart in the past and threaten to do so again when they attend the wedding of James's ex-girlfriend. It seems only a miracle will open a future for them, and then a change of heart happens where it's least expected.

The Wedding List is a quick read. It's beautifully written, and it's sure to lift your heart. If you like Christian romance, or if you're longing for the comfort of faith in this world, Autumn Macarthur is an author you'll want to follow.


Her Tycoon Hero (Heartsong Presents)
Her Tycoon Hero (Heartsong Presents)

5.0 out of 5 stars High Stakes and Emotional Depth, December 6, 2014
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How good are we at forgiving the past mistakes of our friends and family? Do we really forget? Narelle Atkins brings romance to the hard truths a recovering alcoholic faces when desperately trying to start again.

Cassie's early twenties might have seemed like one big party, but she looks back on those days now and sees the truth, a dark period in her life, feeling lost and unloved. A good friend invites her to church, and there she finds God and unconditional love.

Her Tycoon Hero opens with Cassie's fresh start. She's in her mid-twenties and finally has direction in her life: a career path in event planning, the desire to find a meaningful relationship, and above all a new faith in God and in herself.

If only her father didn't undermine her confidence with his mistrust. She blames him for their broken relationship, unaware that forgiveness needs to come from her, as well. It takes someone outside the family, a dashing man who has her full attention, to make her see her father as a human being.

Her Tycoon Hero is about finding love through forgiveness, and it's about breaking destructive patters: a history of alcoholism, the tendency to mistrust after being hurt, and using work to avoid feelings and communication. These characters have a lot to work on before they can know true love.

Narelle Atkins achieves a page-turning romance with high stakes and emotional depth. Her Tycoon Hero is a brave and rewarding story that breaks the pattern of 'playing it safe' in Christian romance.


The Savage Kingdom
The Savage Kingdom
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This Book, December 1, 2014
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I have gifted The Savage Kingdom to more friends than any other book I've read. The story of one girl's rise against the animal kingdom in order to save mankind delivers page-turning entertainment, descriptions that bring the action to life, and a message of empowerment that will have you cheering.

Simon David Eden makes the impossible seem plausible by getting inside the minds of the animals. Beasts have motives now, opinions, free will, and best of all, voice. But they aren't the only ones revealing hidden talents. Our young heroine, Drue, learns by necessity (and with seconds to spare) to tap into her strengths, which exceed her expectations in a very creative way.

The relationship between Drue and her dad Quinn adds a dimension to the story that speaks to parents everywhere, to a degree. Quinn's biggest challenge is being a single parent to a stubborn teenager while the world is collapsing under animal rule. He's juggling more than PTA meetings but keeps his cool as long as he's able. A quiet man with secrets, he has to trust Drue with knowledge he never intended on sharing, and he has to show faith enough to let her fight on her own.

The most heartwarming aspect of The Savage Kingdom is the relationship between Drue and her three-legged cat, Will-C. Their separate journeys, as they battle to reunite, embrace the idea of empowering the meek, providing they have the courage to fight. Overall, The Savage Kingdom is suspenseful enough to set your heart racing and endearing enough to break it, but the quality that inspires me to gift it to so many people is simply the Hope that it imparts.


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