Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Hey, friends! It’s no secret how much I love books. You can usually find me in the middle of one of these activities:

  1. Reading a book
  2. Talking about a book I’m reading
  3. Talking about a book I want to read.

Plus, English majors tend to be really into stories, so I call it using my bachelor’s degree.

Anyway, today I want to share about a brand-new book I read a few weeks ago: Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill. I’ve shared about several of her books on the blog over the years (The Lost Girl of Astor StreetThe Revised Life of Ellie SweetThe Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, and Throwing Stones), so it’s an honor to get to do it again!

First, I’ll share the book’s synopsis, then I’ll post my review and info about the author andhow you can get a copy! Happy reading!

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About the book:

When Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki are torn apart by the events following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they must fight if they want any hope of returning to one another before World War II steals their future together. Within These Lines is one unflinching, haunting, historical novel you don’t want to miss; perfect for fans of Monica Hesse, Ruta Sepetys, and Elizabeth Wein.

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to a Japanese-American internment camp.

Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

My Thoughts: 

IMG_8177.jpegIn December 1941, Japanese forces bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. As fear spread through the nation, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans to leave their homes, jobs, friends, and lives behind and enter internment camps. 

Set against this historical backdrop of turmoil, fear, and racism, Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill tells a heart-rending, yet beautiful story of love that perseveres, even when all else is against it. 

Though Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki are fictional, their lives pulse with such compelling authenticity that you forget – even if for a moment – they’re characters in a novel and not living,breathing souls. 

Yet their story of hope in the face of utter darkness and their courage to fight for what is right is inspiring. Even though this story takes place many decades in the past, it rings with timeless truths about the dangers of letting fear dictate our decisions, and reminds us of the value and dignity of all human life. That’s a message as needed today as it was in 1942. 

This story gripped me from page one. By the time I read the final line, I’d not only learned more about our country’s history – and events that did affect real people – but I was also reminded of the importance of acknowledging the truth of where we’ve been so that we can  live justly and love our neighbors today. 

I believe that’s a testament to the power of stories like Within These Lines. 

About the Author: 

Stephanie Morrill Low ResStephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three kids. She is the author of The Lost Girl of Astor Street, The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, GoTeenWriters.comTo connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out StephanieMorrill.com

 

Within These Lines is available from all major book retailers.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt: Clue #16

Hey, friends! If you’re looking for the next piece of the puzzle in The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt, you’ve come to the right place!

Not sure what this is about? Click here to get started! (There’s a prize involved!)

Stick around for my review of the book, more info about the story, and clue #16!

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“I am many things, Detective Cassano, but safe isn’t one of them.” – Piper Sail

My Review 

Q: What do you get when you mix a strong female protagonist, the Roaring 20’s, and the Chicago mafia scene?

A: The Lost Girl of Astor Street, a story that will immerse you in the world of Piper Sail as she tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her best friend. Hold onto your cloche – it’s a wild ride.

The 1920s are fascinating. Flappers, jazz, speakeasies, and the likes of Al Capone all color this time period. And that’s where you’ll find Piper Sail, a tenacious eighteen-year-old determined to find answers to all of the secrets swirling around her.

Stephanie Morrill brings Piper’s world to life through vivid description and a keen eye for historical detail. The story grabs you and won’t let go, but the setting of 1924 Chicago – both the glamorous and the gritty – is enough to keep you reading. Even the dialogue is reflective of the time period.

The characters are unique and well-developed, and the plot will keep you guessing as you try to solve the mystery alongside Piper.

Lost Girl gives readers a perfect blend of suspense, humor, and romance throughout the story, which is realistic yet doesn’t include any iffy language or content.

I’m a big fan of all of Morrill’s books, but she outdoes herself with this one. It’s become one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it. I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Piper Sail!

“To love anyone is to risk.” – Piper’s father

About the book 

Lydia has vanished.
Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.
Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.
When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.
From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend.

About the author

stephanie-morrill-low-res

Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.

Website: www.stephaniemorrill.com
Facebook: facebook.com/StephanieMorrillAuthor
Twitter: @StephMorrill
Instagram: @StephanieMorrill

The clue 

Are you ready for the next clue? I thought so!

Clue #16 is…

NOT

There you go! Good luck on the rest of the hunt!

Blog stops

Here’s the complete list of stops along the clue hunt! Make sure you stop by each blog to collect all of the Lost Girl clues and be entered to win the prize!

Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White

Book Reviews

Fairy Tale Romance Collection by Melanie Dickerson

fairytaleromance

My Thoughts:

Love stories like Beauty and the Beast and Snow White?  Check out Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tale Romance Collection. Dickerson offers a unique twist on some of our favorite classic fairytales. The stories are historical fiction, and details come alive with vivid descriptions and rich dialogue. The stories move at a good pace, and even though I’m pretty familiar with how the original stories go, Dickerson did a wonderful job of keeping me guessing what would happen next. The heroines are easy to cheer for, and the romance element is certainly fairy tale quality.

Every now and then, I love a good happily-ever-after story. They’re fun to read, and it’s easy to get swept away into a world of princesses and noble knights and towering castles. This collection definitely fits that description, along with weaving a faith thread throughout. These books are far from preachy, but the message is strong. The Merchant’s Daughter is my favorite of the collection, although I enjoyed everything I read. I thought it was especially fun how all of the stories take place in the same kingdom with overlapping characters. If you like fairytales, historical romance, and clean young adult novels, this may be the perfect blend for you!

From the Back Cover:

Romance, intrigue, and danger abound in this bind-up of five of Melanie Dickerson’s fairy-tale retellings presented in realistic historical settings. Includes The Healer’s Apprentice, The Merchant’s Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Captive Maiden, and The Princess Spy.

The Healer’s Apprentice: Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, and when Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, Rose tends to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to fall in love, and wonders if he feels the same. But Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.

The Merchant’s Daughter: Annabel is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. She soon finds he is not beastly after all, and becomes involved in a situation that could place Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, in her hands.

The Fairest Beauty: Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and receives her chance when Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and that he has come to rescue her. Though romance is impossible–she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else–the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven to find help. Before long both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them, they must also protect their hearts.

The Captive Maiden: When Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten–the boy she has daydreamed about for years–is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

The Princess Spy: Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha–one of the few who speaks his language–understands the wild story. It is up to her to save her father, Colin, and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

About the Author:

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Buy the Book:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Reviews

It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst, Illustrated by Natalia Moore

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Trusting God Through Fear and Change

Summary:

Little Seed doesn’t want to leave his cozy seed packet on the shelf in the garden shed. Little Fox does not like being afraid, but there are lots of scary things outside his comfy den. On one stormy night, Little Seed and Little Fox meet, and an endearing friendship forms. As Little Seed and Little Fox face changes in their lives, they not only learn lessons about friendship, but also truths about the Farmer, who is good and kind and always watching over them. Even when they don’t know it.

My Thoughts:

I’m a fan of Lysa TerKeurst, so when I heard about her new children’s book, I thought it would be fun to read with my preschool-age sister. Little Sister loved the book, and I did too. It’s a book that resonates not only with younger kids growing up and facing change, but older kids who face a different set of changes. I read this around the time I graduated from college, in a time filled with “what next?” questions about career, calling, and exercising faith muscles. It’s a heartwarming story with charming illustrations about friendship, change, and the promise that it really will be okay because God is good, God is kind, and God is always watching over us. Even when we don’t know it.

From the Back Cover:

Growing up brings change (whether we like it or not). Change can trigger fears that are sometimes real and sometimes imagined. How do kids learn early on that in the midst of these uncomfortable times, they don’t have to be afraid?

Little Seed and Little Fox are facing fears, changes ,and brand-new things. And they don’t like it one bit!

Through this unlikely friendship, children can identify with the main characters and will”

  • Discover that God is always with them as they overcome new or scary circumstances
  • Replace doubtful thoughts about God’s plan as they learn to trust Him through change
  • Build their relationship with God by introducing them to the scripturally based characteristics of who God is.

It Will Be Okay will show your child that in the end, it really will  be okay because we have a God who is good and kind and always watching over us!

Author Bio:

Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog (www.LysaTerKeurst.com) and in her books. Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes from her sticky farm table in North Carolina where she lives with her husband, Art, five kids, three dogs, and mouse that refuses to leave her kitchen.

Buy the Book:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Reviews

Review: The NKJV Study Bible–Full Color Edition

 

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Description:

The NKJV Full Color Study Bible includes the New King James Version of the Scriptures and is packed with supplemental materials to help you dig deeper into God’s Word. Some of the features included:

  • Full-color page design
  • Bible-land photos and graphics
  • In-text maps and charts
  • Full cross-references with textual notes
  • Word studies and indexes
  • Bible Times and Culture Notes
  • Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
  • Reader-friendly notes and articles ideal for extended study
  • Deluxe NKJV Concordance including proper names

My Thoughts:

This is a beautiful Bible. The illustrations, maps, and photographs help set the scene for historical context, while the book introductions let you know what was going on at the time they were written. One of my favorite features is called “Christ in the Scriptures,” and it’s found in each of the book introductions. In this section, the editors point out references to Jesus and His mission. These references may be easy to pick up in the New Testament, but it’s fascinating to see how even the oldest of the Scriptures mentions the Messiah. The charts are also fascinating. One of my favorites is a chart called “Grace vs. The Law” that breaks down the difference between living under obligation to the law and living in the freedom found in Christ.

This Bible is very easy to use, and the commentary is easy to understand. I’ve already used it in my own personal quiet time, as well as to prepare Bible study outlines. I don’t study from the New King James Version very often, as my go-to Bible is a different translation, so I’ve enjoyed familiarizing myself with this version, and I know this is a Bible I’ll be referencing for a long time. There are just so many tools to help you understand difficult passages and see how the God-breathed Scriptures all work together to tell His story of redemption. 

Official Description:

The NKJV Study Bible, the most comprehensive study Bible available, now in a full-color edition with added features! The acclaimed NKJV Study Bible is the most complete study system for all who desire accurate study in God’s Word. The Second Edition includes more features to make it the best all-purpose study Bible. Using the trusted New King James Version, The NKJV Study Bible has “the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor.” Nelson’s skilled team of scholars has produced the system to reach for when study in God’s Word is the goal.

Find a Copy:

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <
http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Reviews

Rebels by Jill Williamson

Earlier this month, I hosted a stop on a blog tour celebrating the release of Rebels. Today I’m sharing the full review.

The remnant of Glenrock has been scattered. But they are not beaten.

*This is the final book in the Safe Lands trilogy. Click here for my review of book one (Captives), and click here for my review of book two (Outcasts).

Summary:

Mason and Levi now face liberation—one of the Safe Lands best-kept secrets. But even knowing the truth about liberation isn’t enough to save their family and friends. When Omar’s illness grows worse, Shaylinn’s unborn babies are in danger, and Jemma is selected as the new Safe Lands queen, all hope seems lost. But the rebels are making plans, and if they succeed, long-sought freedom and truth will finally come to those under the oppression of the government. But if they fail, death is immanent.

My Thoughts:

This trilogy started out strong in Captives, but it gets better with each book in the series.Rebels is a fast-paced,gripping journey with numerous twists that leave readers wondering if the secrets of the Safe Lands will ever be exposed. Through unexpected turns and moments that make you stop reading and stare at the page while you try to process the intensity of the story, Rebels is a thrilling end to Jill Williamson’s series.

There are themes of redemption, forgiveness, and unconditional love woven throughout the book,  but the characters never arrive at these themes the easy way…nor do they have all of the answers about life, God, or their seemingly impossible circumstances.This makes Mason, Levi, Omar, and the rest of the characters seem like real people, even though they’re living in a fictional world. A lot of time lapses in this third book, and many characters weave in and out of the story. But the results are absolutely incredible.

In Conclusion:

So after journeying through all three books in the series, would I recommend it? Absolutely. This is a series teens (guys and girls) will enjoy, yet it’s offers a complex storyline people beyond the teen years will enjoy, too. Jill Williamson doesn’t sugarcoat any details, meaning the story presents some of the grittiness of life in a straightforward way, yet she always shows the situations in light of a Biblical standpoint. This means, consequences happen, but so does forgiveness. And the ending? I can’t give away any details. But I will say I’m going to miss hanging out in such a well-crafted story world.

From the Back Cover:

The remnant of Glenrock has been scattered. But they are not beaten.

The Safe Lands have long kept the true meaning of Liberation secret from their people. But after being sentenced to Liberation themselves, Mason and Omar soon discover the truth.

Levi watched his brothers’ public sentencing and tries to hold out hope they are still alive, He is forced to focus his attention elsewhere, however, when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and made the Safe Lands’ newest Queen. His only choice to save Jemma may be to take up Omar’s old role of undercover vigilante, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will Levi’s new role be enough?

Meanwhile, Jemma’s sister, Shaylinn, is ready to give birth to the “Safe Lands’” children … but not even Ciddah is sure they can be delivered safely in the midst of a rebellion. And Mason must face the fact Omar’s illness could be fatal.

If they can all unite their efforts, together they may be able to expose the Safe Lands’ lies to the people. But if they fail, they will all surely die.

Author Bio:

Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. Growing up in Alaska led to love books, and in 2010 her first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Visit Jill online at www.jillwilliamson.com

Buy the Book:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Reviews

Blog Tour: Rebels by Jill Williamson

I’m so excited to host a stop on the blog tour celebrating the release of Rebels, the thrilling conclusion to Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands trilogy! Stick around for a spotlight on one of my favorite authors and her newest novel!

About the Author:

JillWilliamsonNewSmallJill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books including the Blood of Kings trilogy, Replication, the Mission League series, and the Safe Lands trilogy. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer. Visit her online at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.

 

 

 

Connect with Jill Williamson:

About Rebels:

image

The Safe Lands have long kept the true meaning of Liberation secret from their people. But after being sentenced to Liberation themselves, Mason and Omar soon discover the truth.

Levi watched his brothers’ public sentencing and tries to hold out hope they are still alive. He is forced to focus his attention elsewhere, however, when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and made the Safe Lands’ newest Queen. His only choice to save Jemma may be to take up Omar’s old role of undercover vigilante, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will Levi’s new role be enough?

Meanwhile, Jemma’s sister, Shaylinn, is ready to give birth to the “Safe Lands’” children … but not even Ciddah is sure they can be delivered safely in the midst of a rebellion. And Mason must face the fact Omar’s illness could be fatal.

If they can all unite their efforts, together they may be able to expose the Safe Lands’ lies to the people. But if they fail, they will all surely die.

My Thoughts:

This trilogy started out strong in Captives, but it gets better with each book in the series. Rebels is a fast-paced,gripping journey with numerous twists that leave readers wondering if the secrets of the Safe Lands will ever be exposed. Through unexpected turns and moments that make you stop reading and stare at the page while you try to process the intensity of the story, Rebels is a thrilling end to Jill Williamson’s series.

There are themes of redemption, forgiveness, and unconditional love woven throughout the book,  but the characters never arrive at these themes the easy way…nor do they have all of the answers about life, God, or their seemingly impossible circumstances.This makes Mason, Levi, Omar, and the rest of the characters seem like real people, even though they’re living in a fictional world. A lot of time lapses in this third book, and many characters weave in and out of the story. But the results are absolutely incredible. And although Rebels finishes the story readers have followed through Captives and Outcasts in a satisfying way, I’m going to miss hanging out in such an elaborate, well-crafted story world.

Buy Rebels:

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from BookSparksPR, a division of SparkPoint Studio, in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all  opinions expressed are my own.

Book Reviews

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

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Living Life with Everything You Have

Summary:

Are you brave? Or do you feel like God is asking you to take a leap and trust Him, but you wrestle with doubts? What would it look like if you said yes to God’s call and truly lived life with everything you have? In Let’s All Be Brave, Annie Downs openly and honestly shares about how she–someone who is not brave by nature—learns to embrace the boldness found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through humor and heartfelt stories, Annie’s words will inspire your soul and fuel your desire to follow God’s call to be brave.

My Thoughts:

From the first page of Let’s All Be Brave, Annie had me nodding my head and saying, “That’s me! She so gets me.” And not just because we’re both Georgia-born girls who desperately want to trust the Lord wherever He leads. Annie writes in such a real, relatable way. She’s not afraid to honestly tell you what it’s like to wrestle with fear…and then see God do incredible things through your faith, small as that faith may feel at times. This book reminds you that you’re not alone and your insecurities aren’t too big for you to overcome through God’s strength. There’s solid Scripture, too, and stories of bravery pulled straight from God’s Word.

In Conclusion:

I love this book, and I believe it carries an important message so many of us need to hear. I’ve already loaned this book to a friend, but it’ll be in my to-be-reread pile soon. You’ll be encouraged by Annie Downs’ words and strengthened in your walk of faith. And, together, Let’s All Be Brave.

Official Book Description:

Annie Downs admits she’s not exactly the bravest girl in the world. She still cries sometimes when she leaves her parents’ home in Georgia, she’s never jumped out of a plane, and she only rides roller coasters to impress boys. But Annie knows that courage resides inside each and every one of us, and she’s on a mission to triumph over her own fears while encouraging readers to do the same.

As a single young woman, writer, speaker, and popular blogger, Annie shares this journey toward bravery with honesty and humor. Using wonderful stories from her own life, contemporary real-life examples, and fascinating historical and biblical references, Annie encourages readers to grab hold of the brave life that they desperately desire.

Let’s All Be Brave is more than just a book, it’s a battle cry. In it, Annie challenges us to live boldly, calls us to step into those places that require courage, and gives us the help to take the next step forward-even when it’s scary. This non-fiction, essay-driven book opens the door to many different views of courage-nudging, encouraging, and inspiring readers to be brave whenever given the chance.

Author Bio:

Annie F. Downs is an author, speaker, and blogger based in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of a real and present God. While she loves writing – books, blogs, articles, thank-you notes – Annie also enjoys traveling around the world speaking to young women, college students, and adults. Annie is a huge fan of bands with banjos glitter, her community of friends, boiled peanuts, and football games. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her on Twitter @anniefdowns.

Buy the Book:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Reviews

Revolutionary by Krista McGee

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Overpower. Overthrow. Overcome.

Revolutionary is book 3 in the Anomaly trilogy. Click here for my review of Anomaly (book 1).

Summary:

After spending time above ground and out of the reach of The State, Thalli is once again trapped in the place she once called home. When horrible secrets about Dr. Loudin’s plans—and her own past—are revealed, Thalli’s new faith in the Designer starts to waver as she wonders why He is allowing evil to win. With the fate of the human race at stake, Thalli is left with a choice: trust in the plans of a God she can’t see, or give up and watch the world fall apart.

My Thoughts:

The first two books in the Anomaly series were interesting and action-packed…but Revolutionary is on a whole other level. I never knew what would happen next, and I caught myself saying, “No, she did not!” out loud many, many times. So many of the plot twists surprised me, which I loved. The plot is very intense, and I had to set the book down for a moment during a couple of grimace-worthy scenes.

But my favorite part of the first two books remains my favorite part of this final installment: the love of the Designer—God—is presented  so clearly here. Not in a preachy way, but in an honest, engaging way that feels like a breath of fresh air in the middle of such seemingly hopeless circumstances. Speaking of hopeless circumstances, I’m amazed at how the author writes her characters into what appear to be dead-ends…but brilliantly keeps the story moving. And the ending of Thalli’s story? Well, you know I can’t say anything about it except that I loved it.

In Conclusion:

The Anomaly trilogy is a dystopian journey set in a world where people try to play the role of God, only to leave behind a trail of destruction. And in that way, it gives us a very honest glimpse at a world not so different from our own. No, we’re not survivors of an attempt to wipe out humanity, but we live in a world where mankind often believes it know what’s best. But as Thalli sees, we’re not without hope; the Designer never leaves us and He still has a plan, even when we can’t see it in motion.

From the Back Cover:

Back in the hands of the State after months aboveground, Thalli, Berk, Alex, and Kristie find themselves caught in a horrible game of power . . . with consequences reaching farther than they ever imagined.

After months in New Hope and Athens, Thalli had almost forgotten what living in the State was like. Programmed to be without emotions or curiosity, she was always an anomaly there. Too emotional. Too curious. Citizens of the State should behave exactly the way the Scientists designed them to behave: working in their assigned fields, maintaining productivity.

Thalli’s entire genetically engineered generation has been eradicated by a scientocracy that believes human life is expendable. Now, a pawn in a mad game of manipulation, held hostage and tortured in the name of the State, Thalli can barely summon the strength to hope that the future of humanity could be any better.

She clings to her new faith in the Designer. But when Thalli discovers that even the surviving aboveground villages are in danger of State domination, her fragile faith begins to crumble.

As Thalli, Berk, and Alex make plans to overthrow the evil Dr. Loudin, a chilling secret explains why they have been left alive at all . . . a personal secret that will haunt Thalli forever. And as she struggles with this new truth, she also struggles with decisions of the heart.

Can the State’s expansion be stopped? Or will humanity—above and below the surface—be irreparably damaged? Thalli is faced with a purpose both overwhelming and undeniable: to assume the role of a Revolutionary.

Author Bio:

When Krista McGee isn’t living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she lives in Tampa and spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher, and coffee snob. She is also the author of The Anomaly Trilogy, First Date, Starring Me, and Right Where I Belong.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Book Reviews

Sarah’s Choice by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue

sarahschoice

Only one thing stands in the way of Sarah’s success…

Summary:

Sarah has a great boyfriend and an incredible job promotion right in front of her. But a surprise pregnancy turns her world upside down. Suddenly, her job is in jeopardy and everyone has an opinion on what she should do next. Sarah’s relationships begin to crumble until she feels completely alone. But then she receives a Christmas card that gives her dreams about what her future could be like, depending on the decisions she makes regarding her unborn child, and she begins to wonder if God really might love her and have a greater plan.

My Thoughts:

Sarah’s Choice is a powerful story of the value of all life, whether it’s the life of a young woman caught in her sin, a man with some growing up to do, or an unborn baby created for a purpose. Yes, Sarah gets pregnant outside of marriage, but the story thoroughly explores all of the consequences of her choice. The big choice, though, concerns the life of her unborn baby. It’d be easy to say this is a pro-life book, and it is, but it doesn’t just pedal a message. Instead, St. James and Rue beautifully and powerfully introduce us to a realistic cast of characters who are very believable in their interactions with themselves, each other, and God. The story deals with some real topics, but in a way that brings hope and shows the power of God’s desire to redeem us. 

In Conclusion:

The movie version of this story (starring Rebecca St. James) released several years ago, and I really enjoyed it. But the book delves even deeper into the lives of these characters. It’s a story that takes place in the middle of a mess, but the authors don’t leave us there. Without going into spoilers, I’ll say you’ll walk away with a renewed passion for giving a voice to the unborn and seeing others through the eyes of Jesus.

From the Back Cover:

Only one thing stands in the way of Sarah’s success . . . her unborn baby.

Sarah Collins is about to receive a promotion that will give her everything she’s ever wanted: a huge pay increase, a new car, a fabulous apartment, and first-class travel.

But then she discovers she’s pregnant. And while she thinks she loves her boyfriend, Matt, she isn’t sure he’s mature enough to be a responsible father. And the job she’s pursuing is open only because the previous employee is out on maternity leave. She’d never be able to handle the travel as a single mom.

Torn between advice from her coworkers, the adamant insistence of her mother and sister that she keep the baby, her insecurity about her relationship with Matt, and the void where her father should be, Sarah has no idea how to make this decision.

A Christmas card from a mysterious old woman is the catalyst for three visions of her future—and may just be the miracle she needs. But can she trust the visions? Are they the yearnings of a conflicted heart? Or are they true visions from the God she thought had turned his back on her?

For every woman who has made painful decisions, Sarah’s Choice offers comfort, wisdom, and hope.

Author Bios:

Nancy Rue is the author of over 100 books for adults and teens, including Healing Waters, which was a 2009 Women of Faith Novel of the Year, and The Reluctant Prophet which received a Christy award in 2011. Nancy travels extensively-at times on the back of a Harley Davidson-speaking and teaching to groups of `tween girls and their moms and mentoring aspiring Christian authors. She lives on a lake in Tennessee with her Harley-ridin’ husband Jim and their two yellow labs (without whom writing would be difficult.)

Rebecca St. James: Rebecca St. James is both a Grammy and multiple Dove Award recipient as well as a best-selling author whose books include Wait for Me and What is He Thinking?? Her leading role in the pro-life film Sarah’s Choicewon critical acclaim. A passionate spokesperson for Compassion International, more than 30,000 children have found sponsorship through Rebecca’s world-wide concerts.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.