Friday, March 24, 2017

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray - REVIEWED

About the Book:
 A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she's getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky...if only she wasn't too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called "The Recluse" confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God's gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there's always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Learn more and purchase you copy HERE!

My Thoughts:
I intend to be very careful and very vigilant. I promise.”  (p. 209)
Sometimes being careful and vigilant isn’t enough to prevent evil from knocking on your front door.  Actually, evil rarely, if ever, is that polite.  Hannah Hilty and her entire family become a people of fear rather than faith when they flee a stalker intent upon stealing everything from them to satisfy a very malicious appetite. 
What this stalker, or any other evil, discounted was God’s protective guiding hand at work in the lives of the one person he was intent upon pursuing and wooing. Although Hannah bowed to fear initially, as did her parents, none of them could fathom what God had prepared for them even as they tried to run from the problems that were intent to pursue and paralyze them.
I tend to be pretty picky when it comes to Amish stories, but I have learned that I can depend on Shelly Shepard Gray to deliver a story that is filled with intrigue, truth and grace.  Her Secret speaks to the universal need we all seek – the need to feel safe and secure in our own home.  For the Hilty family, that security has been ripped from them, and their attempts to fight seem meager at best. God is always in the details of our lives, and this story is no exception.  Gray weaved layer upon layer of details together and forms a community of faith that digs deep into God’s truth to find strength to stand against the evil that has burst into their midst.

I truly enjoyed this novel, and I am happy to recommend it to everyone!  You will come away with renewed faith in God’s strength to show us the way we need to go – even when we decide to run the opposite direction.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lost and Found by Kendra Fletcher - REVIEWED

About the Book:
What happens when you lose your religion? Kendra Fletcher, mom of eight, took pride in having it all together the right schooling, the right theology, the right church. Everything was right. Then it all fell apart. Three of their children were taken to the brink of death in a period of eighteen months. As wave after wave of crisis hit their family, they learned that getting religion right wasn't a good substitute for a living relationship with a loving God. As they learned about their misplaced identities and false hope, they found that religion couldn't save them only Jesus. Only Jesus gives the grace we need to survive and thrive. Only in Jesus will our lives overflow with his grace, love, and mercy spilling out over our families like the life-giving good news it is meant to be.

More than a memoir, Lost and Found is a call to give up those things that hold us in bondage and find the overwhelming grace and freedom of the cross. Woven through the life-changing stories that forever altered Kendra Fletcher s family is an encouragement to readers to find their value, worth, significance, hope, and identity in Christ alone.

Gripping true story of how God heals physically and spiritually. The difference between the gospel and merely being religious explained simply and clearly using one family s story. Clear direction on how to live with freedom and joy despite challenging circumstances.

My Thoughts:
Had we know there would be healing in our future, we would have signed up for the trials a long time before.” (p 50)

This is a statement that I imagine very few people say out loud – much less write it in a book that will be read by countless readers.  Yet I believe that when Kendra Fletcher penned these words, they were birthed in the firm foundation of the truth of the gospel that was running from her heart like the stream of living water promised to all Christ followers.  Kendra Fletcher and her family walked through a series of fiery trials, all of which she shares in her book Lost and Found.  These details are not recorded to garner praise for her strength nor pity for all that her family endured.  This is a testament to God’s amazing grace and mercy available to all who embrace the freedom of this gift He offers through the shed blood of His Only Son
I have been in these places that Kendra Fletcher records.  Places of religious bondage that slip around our hearts so quietly that we do not realize how imprisoned we have become until we face a situation that causes us to lean entirely upon God. This book resonated with me on a very deep and personal level, because, like Kendra, I lived many years of my life in a religious prison that kept me from embracing the truth of the gospel.  To be set free from that prison has been a very long and arduous process for me, but, like Kendra, I can recognize and say that I would have signed up for these trials long ago if I knew the depth of healing that lay before me.

I walk in healing and freedom today because of the gospel of Christ.  I think many people who come to this book and read the truth it offers will have their hearts changed for all eternity.  I know there were times as I read, that I stopped and wept at the love that Jesus has lavished upon my life!
I will come back again and again to this book.  I will share it with friends. I encourage you to lay down bondage and walk in freedom.  Embrace the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  There is no other other way to live!

On page 79 Fletcher states: “The gospel doesn’t allow us the snobbish luxury of not sullying our hands because we can’t stand the filth.  We are clean only because Christ is clean; they will be made clean only if we take Christ to them.”
Can I hear a good AMEN?!

About the Author:
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of 8, speaker for groups and conferences around the country, author of several books, and podcaster on HomeschoolingIRL. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including, Arizona Home Education Journal, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and Washington Family Magazine. Her newest book, Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, is published by New Growth Press and will be released in 2017.

She blogs at and Find her on Twitter: @KendraEFletcher

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Murder Is No Accident by A.H Gabhart - REVIEWED

About the Book:
One body may be an accident. A second body means murder.
The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn't realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she's not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky--with a dash of sinister--you'll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.

My Thoughts:
Life was often messy. So was death”  (p. 55)

Michael Keene’s job as Deputy Sheriff in Hidden Springs is usually as quiet and peaceful as the town’s name implies.  However, there a secrets buried that folks want to remain secret.  What motivate some to greatness motivates others to evil, and Michael Keene is responsible for unraveling motives behind multiple murders before anyone else suffers harm.

A. H. Gabhart writes cozy mysteries that I find thoroughly entertaining but not so intense that I lose sleep!  Her characters are realistic and well-developed so that you come to care about them during the course of the story.  There is a love interest that simmers beneath the surface, and young-adult characters that add a touch of innocence to the sometimes morbid reality that can be called life sometimes.

I enjoy the fact that the interplay between the lives of the Hidden Springs residents are realistic and the author doesn’t sugar coat the reality of health issues or family dysfunction. This could happen in Anywhere, USA.  You will feel right at home among the residents of Hidden Springs, and you will want to return for another visit soon!  

About the Author:
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Christians are free in Christ, yet Christianity can feel like a prison. Unchained helps Christians who don’t feel that grace has changed their lives.
Often when people follow Jesus, they feel more guilty instead of more free. A powerful book for the spiritually restless, Unchained shows readers how to have a robust faith that celebrates their freedom in Christ without compromising their holiness as God’s followers.Unchained turns to the person and work of Jesus Christ as the source of freedom—not just his work 2,000 years ago but also what he is doing today. As readers dig into the meaning of the freedom that Jesus offers, they will understand, perhaps for the first time, what true freedom in Christ means.
Purchase your copy HERE.
My Thoughts:
Freedom is something that eludes most everyone I know.  There are places in each person’s life that seem to hold their hearts and minds captive, and the resulting lifestyle is one riddled with numerous emotions – none of which gives them the freedom they long for.  Christ followers and created a myriad of religious practices and doctrines that give them a safe way to define and ultimately attain this elusive freedom.  That, in and of itself, becomes a prison of impossibility.

I think Noel Heikkinen had written a book that addresses this entire topic of freedom in a way that anyone can understand.  He takes us to the truth of God’s Word and carefully ensures that readers understand every aspect of the answers God speaks to us regarding the freedom His salvation offers to all that choose to follow Him.  Each chapter is rich in truths to ponder, and ends with a series of questions that you can either discuss with a small group or journal in a personal bible study. 

No matter what approach to take to this book, be prepared for heart transformation to take place! Heikkinen answers a lot of questions and clears up a lot of misunderstandings!  I am thankful for this book and the freedom it will bring to many lives.  I am still unpacking some of these truths in my own life, and I can tell you now that only CHRIST offers what we seek.  We will ONLY find our answers and freedom in Jesus! 
I highly recommend this book!
About the Author:

Noel Jesse Heikkinen is a pastor at Riverview Church, a multi-site church of over 3,000 near Lansing, Michigan. Heikkinen also helps lead the church planting ministry Acts 29 and is the chairman of the board for the mission agency Reliant. He and his wife, Grace, have four children.

Find out more about Noel Jesse at

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley - REVEIWED

About the Book:
In one week, the wrong man will be executed for murder.

Let the chase for the real killer begin.

Eighteen years ago, TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The convicted killer sits behind bars, his execution date looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned didn't do the crime, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the man who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. Andi and Will must find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But what can happen in only a week? Uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and, perhaps, falling in love?

My Thoughts:
Do you remember where you were the night Stephanie was murdered?”  (p. 184)
This question becomes the genesis of resurrecting and 18-year-old murder investigation from a the status of cold case to active investigation.  That, in itself, makes for a fascinating story line, but when you add the motivation of the three days until the execution of a possibly innocent man, you have a true thrill ride!  And that’s not all!!  The murderer is hidden in plain sight, and the closer discovery moves in their direction the more desperate the effort becomes to keep the 18-year-old secret buried!  Not everyone survives the effort!
Patricia Bradley’s name on the cover promises a thrill ride for readers who enjoy a great murder/mystery/police detective-type story line.  Justice Delayed has many, many layers to uncover! Truly, I’ve rarely seen so many diverse threads so successfully interwoven.  On top of everything else going on, there is an undercurrent of human trafficking AND romance!  This author fleshes out the story line completely!

Can you tell I enjoyed my time between the pages of this novel?  I did! I did!  It was hard to put it down! I am happy to recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a variety of genres.  This novel will satisfy a broad range of readers!  Dive right in, and enjoy the ride!    

About the Author:
Patricia Bradley is the author of Shadows of the PastA Promise to ProtectGone without a Trace, and Silence in the Dark. Bradley has been a finalist for the Genesis Award, winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award, and winner of a Touched by Love Award. Bradley is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Bradley makes her home in Mississippi. Learn more at

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Under An Open Heaven by John E. Johnson - REVEIEWED

About the Book:
When the gospel of John was written, the world was in turmoil. Jerusalem was collapsing, the empire was eroding, and the church was fighting for its life. The early believers needed a theology to strengthen their souls and steady their nerves--a theology found in this often enigmatic gospel. In our similar times of turbulence, we too need to know that the abundant life under the opened heaven John describes is not just conceivable--it's a promise.

John E. Johnson is determined to reveal the relevance of John's gospel to today's Christian. To do so, he explores various conversations found in its pages and applies them to our modern world. Jesus converses with family, answers the questions of religious leaders, and steps into dialogue with people whose names we never know but whose struggles we can relate to. They aren't always straightforward chats, Johnson readily admits. Yet that is what makes them so beautifully applicable to the messiness of life.

For readers tired of living confined lives, frustrated by failure, or starving in the midst of plenty, the conversations in John tell them life doesn't have to stay small. There is a whole new world made possible under God's open heaven.

My Thoughts:
Christ’s freedom transcends any environment ungodly government might wish to consign godly people to.”  (p. 145)

People will be offered life under an open heaven of God’s making, but they will choose death in a confined prison of their own construction.” (p.148)

Reading this book has given me some huge insight into the lives of Jesus’ disciples. There were times I could almost feel like I had walked in their shoes.  I understand now, why, even though they witnessed many miracles and witnessed Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection that the freedom Christ offered them didn’t quite sink in for a while.  It makes me understand why I still tend to confine myself to my own prison instead of embracing all the freedom Christ offers.

The truth behind discovering this life transforming freedom?  Abiding in God’s Word and allowing it to transform your heart and mind from the inside out.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, when you read about the lives of those recorded in John’s gospel, and you really listen to their questions and responses that take place between them and Jesus, you begin to get some inkling of the transformation that had to take place in their hearts and minds – STILL has to take place in hearts and minds today!  This book is brilliant in its practical application of truths that have the transformational power we all seek.

The author ends each chapter with questions intended to enable those practical applications to begin this transformation process.  ABIDE in His word.  That is the bottom line.  And the best news yet – and news Christians still struggle to believe and understand – is that Holy Spirit is within us and empowers us to live this life of freedom!!

I’m still plumbing the treasures of this book, but I can HIGHLY recommend it to EVERYONE that wants to dig deep into the gospel of John and emerge a believer with a stronger, more vibrant faith!

About the Author:
John E. Johnson is associate professor of pastoral theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregeon, and lead pastor of Village Baptist Church in Beaverton, Oregon. He has previously held posts at other churches, including Trinity International Church at The Hague, Netherlands. Johnson has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra and Trinity Journal. To learn more, visit his blog at

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith - REVIEWED

About the Book:
One devoted woman is about to discover the power of love
When famine visits Bethlehem, some hold out hope for rain, while Naomi and her family make a long journey to Moab in search of greener pastures. The harvest there is plentiful, and for a time it appears the Lord is blessing them. But when calamities strike, one after another, Naomi is left alone in a foreign land with only her widowed daughters-in-law for comfort.

Downhearted and destitute, Naomi is determined to return to Bethlehem alone. But her daughter-in-law Ruth refuses to leave her side. Despite the fact that she and Naomi will almost certainly live out their days in widowhood and poverty, Ruth holds out hope for a better future . . . and maybe even a second chance at love. 

My Thoughts:
This could not be happening to her, to them.”  (p. 134)

Jill Eileen Smith has created another historically, Biblically fascinating story about Ruth and the journey she takes to get to Boaz.   Well, that is stating it simply, but accurately.  Smith tells stories rich with culturally accurate details that give readers new and deeper insight to the Biblical characters they think they know very well.  Once you peel back the layers of the cultural context, you can begin to understand more about the choices they make within their part of the Bible.

The story of Ruth has always fascinated me, and now, after reading this book, I have a greater appreciation for the things that she had to endure before she became part of the lineage of Jesus. The chapters of this book of the Bible seem brief, but, as Smith’s book details, it could span years of experience that we don’t imagine exist.  Looking at it through this lens, it makes more sense to me, even though I know some of the details are unknown. 

Smith develops the characters of Naomi and Ruth (well all of the characters – her family into which Ruth marries) in such detail that when her life experiences the redemption that God had planned for her, you fairly weep!  Rejoice with me in the sovereign hand of God!!  What a mighty God we serve!!

About the Author:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of The Crimson Cord, The Wives of King David series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and the ebook novellas The Desert Princess and The Shepherdess. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast 
Michigan. Learn more at