Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner - REVIEWED

 


About the Book:

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When one of those children announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Mindy's father grapples with the tension between holding on tightly and letting his daughter spread her wings. Her mother undergoes the emotional roller coaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy and her sister struggle to find the strength to accept each other as they both discover who they truly are.

Told through three distinct voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

My Thoughts:
"It's the nature of small birds to sing their little hearts out.
  It's the nature of God to hear them."  (p. 323)

This is the first time in a very long while I must say that the synopsis doesn't begin to TOUCH the depth and breadth of all this story contains.  Yes, the adoption of a Korean baby in operation Babylift plays a major element, but the layers of this story cover everything from sacrificial parenting, to coming of age teens, to family rifts over political views....there is a LOT to enjoy in this story!

The different points of view covered through different points in time is the magic that ties this story to the deepest places in your heart.  You feel the fear in a parent's heart over bringing an adopted child into a family.  You feel the anger of a parent who has lost a child to war.  You feel a teenager's angst over first crushes, and summer jobs.  There isn't much that you don't see through the eyes of this precious family that you can't relate to on some level.

My heart stayed engaged from first page to last, and I cried at different points along the way.  This author tapped every emotion multiple times, and I came to love this family.  Oh how I hope the author continues their story!  Then again, I hope I'll just carry that last image in my heart and let my imagination tell me the rest of their story!  This book  is such a treasure!!  The author has captured the nuance of family in a real and poignant way!  Bravo!!

About the Author:

Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, and Stories That Bind Us, as well as A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mysteries of the Messiah by Rabbi Jason Sobel REVIEWED

About the Book:

Are you settling for half the story? Highlighting connections that have been hidden from non-Jewish eyes, Rabbi Jason Sobel will connect the dots between the Old and New Testament, helping you see the Bible with clarity as God intended

Most people—even people of faith—do not understand how the Bible fits together. Too many Christians accept half an inheritance, content to embrace merely the New Testament, while Jewish people may often experience the same by embracing only the Old Testament. But God has an intricate plan and purpose for both the Old and the New.

In Mysteries of the Messiah, Rabbi Jason Sobel reveals the many connections in Scripture hidden in plain sight. Known for his emphatic declaration “but there’s more!” he guides us in seeing the passion and purpose of the Messiah. Mysteries of the Messiah:

Uncovers connections between the Old and New Testaments

Connects the dots for readers with details about Jesus, the Torah, and biblical characters

Written with the unique perspective of a rabbi with an evangelical theological degree

No matter how many times you have read the Bible, Mysteries of the Messiah will bring fresh perspective and insight. God’s Word, written by many people over thousands of years, is not a random selection of people and stories. Rabbi Jason Sobel connects the dots and helps us see with clarity what God intended.

My Review:

"We can experience God's lovingkindness because He gave us His Son, the Messiah, and His seed is established forever - from creation to today and eternity." (p.188)

Rabbi Jason Sobel makes this statement with utter and complete confidence, because He knows it is true.  After you read all that he has uncovered about his Messiah, you will be forever grateful, because you will see Jesus revealed in all His glory in every facet of the universe - throughout time!  Rabbi Sobel frames all of his knowledge on extensive research that is meticulously footnoted in the back of the book.  

But this is SO MUCH MORE than research!!  This is a record of miracle after miracle performed throughout time, using the very language of Jesus' people, the Jews, to tell the world over, and over, and over again who He is, and Whose He and who we are as His children!  This makes the Bible come to life in an entirely new and exciting way, and I encourage you to take your time, using pen and highlighter, and read it alongside your Bible.  This is truly a rich resource for anyone!

I love the way Jewish culture is totally enmeshed with all of Jesus' life work and ministry!  Sobel clearly explains to everyone, in ways that are undeniable, that Jesus is Who he had always been throughout time. This is truly a rich resource for believers and non-believers.  As a matter of fact, with prayer and careful conversation, this could be a mighty tool in ministering to anyone who doubts Jesus is God's Son.

I'm excited to share this book with you, and I hope you will consider buying a copy and sharing it with friends!

You can read and excerpt HERE!

About the Author:

Rabbi Jason Sobel is the founder of Fusion Global. This ministry seeks to bring people into the full inheritance of the faith by connecting treasures of "the old and the new." Rabbi Jason's voice is authentic, being raised in a Jewish home, and qualified by years of diligent academic work. His voice is prophetic-touched by the life of the Spirit. He has a radical testimony of his supernatural encounter with Yeshua-Jesus This moment awakened him to his calling and destiny.

Rabbi Jason received his rabbinic ordination from the UMJC (Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations) in 2005. He has a B.A. in Jewish Studies (Moody) and an M.A. in Intercultural Studies (Southeastern Seminary). He is a sought-after speaker and has made multiple appearances on national television, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Daystar Network, and the Dr. Oz Show. Rabbi Jason is the author of Breakthrough: Living a Life That Overflows, Aligning with God's Appointed Times, and he is also the coauthor of New York Timesbestseller The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi with Kathie Lee Gifford.




https://youtu.be/q8rku5Lt-0I

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Along a Storied Trail by Ann H Gabhart REVIEWED



About the Book:

Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn't mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in her books. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it--or is the perfect man actually closer than she thinks?

Perdita Sweet has called these mountains home for so long she's nearly as rocky as the soil around her small cabin. Long ago she thought she could love, but when the object of her affection up and married someone else, she stopped giving too much of herself away to others.

As is so often the case, it's easier to see what's best for others than to see what's best for oneself, and Perdita knows who Tansy should choose. But why would anyone listen to the romantic advice of an old spinster?

Saddle up for a heartfelt story of love--love of family, love of place, and the love of a lifetime--from bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart.

My Thoughts:
"A fool's errand.  He looked off at the trees. "I guess we all set off of one of those sometimes."  (p.209)

The mountains of Kentucky was a place that had little to offer during the Great Depression - well, at least not a lot of material comfort and conveniences. However, Tansy Calhoun was able to do something she loved for the community she loved as she served as a packhorse librarian.  She was able to delivery friendship and fellowship along her route, as well as keep in touch with some folks that were struggling just to have food and shelter.

While Tansy is busy sharing her books and stories, there are other job programs that deposit other people into the community  - one is returning home from serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and one is gathering facts and stories for tourist guidebooks for the government.  Tansy's life gets a tad complicated as she gets torn betwixt and between some very strong emotions and hopes and dreams for a brighter future.

Perdita Sweet, an elderly and native local, takes a front row seat at Tansy's social/romantic quandary while finding herself in one of the most difficult situations of her life.  Gabhart ties the lives and the stories of these two very different women together in a way your heart and mind is not soon to forget! 

You will enjoy riding through the hills of Kentucky - truly along a storied trail - and your heart will be thrilled and satisfied along the way!  Gabhart always chooses the most fascinating historical eras and scenarios to build her stories around, and the packhorse librarian experience is one of my favorite!!

About the Author:
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels--The Refuge, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted--as well as other historical novels, including Angel Sister, These Healing Hills, River to Redemption, and An Appalachian Summer. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm's fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.


Monday, June 7, 2021

The Sound the Sun Makes by Buck Storm REVIEWED



About the Book:

Detective Early Pines loves his southern Arizona desert, often thinking he could stare at it all day long. But now that he's forced to do just that, the truth is the view from his back porch is getting old. He's on mandatory leave from the police department, simply for punching a wife beater who had it coming. Early is in dire need of a distraction from his own loud thoughts. So when an old friend invites him to tag along to a rodeo down in Old Mex, it seems like just the ticket.

But if there's one constant in the world, it's that life always throws a guy curveballs. With a flat tire, a roadside bar, and a beautiful woman with trouble on her hands, Early's distraction takes a hard right turn--straight to Los Angeles, six hundred miles west.

Hammott Lamont is waiting there in his own personal hunting ground. The reclusive filmmaker is a veritable cult leader to Hollywood stars--and he's sure his latest project will redefine art history in his image. He's got a plan for a brutal, modernized version of the Christ story, and he's ready to trample anyone who stands in the way of his colossal vision. That is, until big, loud Early Pines hits the coast for a clash of two titans who never saw each other coming.


My Thoughts:

"Out there, in some forgotten valley, God breathes....Do you believe in God Detective Pines?" (p.304-305)

I really don't know where to begin praising this book!  This is the most fun, most literary poignant, humous blend of raw emotion, mystery and action that I've ever read!!  The characters hooked me from the beginning, and Early Pines...I can't get enough of him!!  The blend of lone wolf (pun intended), tragically flawed and strong independence applies to most every character in this novel.   At first, I thought is was going to tell a particular story, but I never dreamed the direction this book would take me!

Early and his entourage traipse across many miles of uncertain territory in pursuit of truth and family.  The truth they are trying to unearth is buried beneath the most bizarre character - Hammott Lamont.  This guy takes crazy to a whole new level!!  The great thing is, that the author, Buck Storm, knows how to keep the reader guessing the entire way through the novel, and in the end, you never see the twist coming!!  I LOVE IT when that happens!!!

Prepare your heart to race, relax and race again, as Early attempts to find answers to more layers of riddles than you've tried to dig through lately!  I cannot recommend this book enough!! I dearly hope this is only the fist of many Early Pines adventures!!

About the Author:

Buck Storm is a singer and songwriter in Hayden, Idaho. He's also the author of several books, including Truck Stop Jesus, Through the Holy Land on the Road Less Traveled, and The Miracle Man. Find out more about Buck at buckstorm.com.



Friday, May 21, 2021

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin REVIEWED


About the Book:

Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaile's life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him--and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there's no one they can trust--except perhaps each other.

Strap in for a breakneck story that will have you up all night, hurtling toward the last page as the clock ticks and time runs out.

My Thoughts:

"I am involved.  I won't let what happened be for nothing.  I'm seeing this through." (p. 93)

Kandace Tolli speaks this truth to Lyndon Vaile after multiple life threatening situations have occurred with little or no understanding of the underlying reason.  Kandace's unusual assassin's skill set provide a stark contrast to Lyndon's logical scientific mind.  They both find themselves in a race against time to save the world from the deadliest bioattck on the human race - using Lyndon's life work of research centered on the deadliest virus strain imaginable

This is the first novel I've ever read from Melissa Koslin's pen, and I must say with complete certainty, it won't be my last!  Kandace and Lyndon are characters that make an impressive and believable duo caught within a seemingly impossible situation.  When they first begin communicating it is under extreme duress, and their relationship is developed in a way that draws the reader deeper and deeper into the story.  As they begin to know each other, it becomes clear that they have experienced life in very unique and different ways.  The fact that they become entirely committed to their purpose is no surprise to the reader as Koslin fleshes out each character in a very believable and intriguing way...as they interact with cat named Mac.

A cat? Really?  Yes, really.  I didn't realize a non-verbal character could provide such a powerful yet believable conduit for characters to develop relationship!  Mac was one of my favorite characters!  You won't want to miss this adventure!! Koslin has built a very real and scary scenario that will keep the pages turning at break neck speed!!  Have a blast with this book!



About the Author:
Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. She and Corey, her husband of twenty years, live in Jacksonville, Florida, where they do their best not to melt in the sun. Find more information on her books at MelissaKoslin.com.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Pillars of Barabbas by M. D. House REVIEWED


About the Book:

The man they called Barabbas has come a long way from the wretched prisoner released by Pontius Pilate in lieu of Jesus of Nazareth. He and his wife Chanah are growing in regard among the leadership of Christ's fledgling church, which is expanding and thriving.

But increasing Christian influence breeds jealousy among several Roman governors and senators. How will Emperor Nero react? Can the apostle Paul soothe the moody young ruler and help the valiant Roman saints continue to spread the Word?

The Parthian Empire also poses threats, including in Eastern Africa, where the former centurion Cornelius has become a prominent Christian leader. Will the Christians need to flee, or must they fight both the Romans and the Parthians?

My Thoughts:  (I'm a tad late posting this, but this is a fabulous book!)

"We must keep striving to do our best - our very best - to learn, understand and apply the Savior's teachings, trusting that he will make up for what we lack, often in miraculous ways we could never have predicted."  (p. 243)

I reviewed the first book in this series and never imagined that the character of Barabbas could be such a rich window through which to watch the early church develop.  The Bible doesn't really tell us much about the man whose life was spared when Jesus was crucified, but M. D. House builds an entire story around what he could have contributed to the early church.

I never really considered the means that would be necessary to accomplish things like the building of early temples of worship, the calling of leaders for early churches facing persecution, the price those called to ministry had to face as they traveled great distances....so many details I never really thought about.  M.D. House not only thought about them, but skillfully weaves a plausible story around Biblical characters who served in the beginning of the spread of the gospel.

Paul is one of several apostles that appear in the course of the story, and he becomes a relatable character that  God uses to direct the lives of others considering the next steps of their spiritual journey.  Barabbas and his family feel unworthy to serve alongside him, but grow to be powerful leaders in their own right as they faithfully serve those they are called to serve.

This is a wonderful sequel that gives the reader an intriguing world to immerse themselves in, but also find scenes that will convict your heart to listen to God's call in your own life.  I look forward to reading more from this author!


 
About the Author:

M.D. House enjoyed a successful first career in the mysterious world of Corporate Finance, but creating and telling stories (and NOT about Finance) was his true love. His first full-length novel was a sci-fi work called "Patriot Star." His second was historical fiction about the life of Barabbas, titled "I Was Called Barabbas." Sequels to both are coming soon.

Writing isn't just fun for him, it's an important way to share his passion, beliefs and vision with family, friends, and anyone else who loves great storytelling with powerful human perspective and emotion.







 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Miriam's Song by Jill Eileen Smith REVIEWED


About the Book:

She has prayed for deliverance from Egypt.

But perhaps the greatest liberation happens within the heart.

From the very beginning, Miriam has lived in her younger brother's shadow. Thrust into the role of protective older sister before Moses was even born, she will grow up into a woman who not only keeps her family's secret but bears the burden of leading a new nation.

In her mind, she knows that she is serving both her God and her people. But in her heart, Miriam yearns for more. She longs to experience the privileges Moses has--to talk with God face-to-face. But when God finally does speak directly to her, the outcome is not at all what she expects.

With her impeccable research and keen eye for detail, bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith offers this epic novel to fill in the gaps in Miriam's story, following her from childhood to motherhood, obscurity to notoriety, and yearning to fulfillment as she learns that what God promises He provides--in His own perfect timing.

My Thoughts:
"Oh Adonai, help me to trust You more."  (p. 271)

This is the opening to a prayer Miriam prays later in the novel, but it represents the heart of the character throughout this novel.  Jill Eileen Smith has a fabulous way of bringing Biblical characters to life in a very realistic way!  She has many decades to cover, but from the time Moses is placed in a basket in the Nile, to end of life experiences on the other side of Exile, Miriam's story is filled with realistic challenges from beginning to end.

I was intrigued by the way she depicted life as an Egyptian slave - the daily challenges and how Moses' presence was always felt even from a distance.  When the plagues came, it was the first time I was aware of the correlation between the plagues and the Egyptian gods. Before it was clear that manna would be their daily sustenance, the fear of starving was palpable.  Throughout, Miriam remains a strong foundation of faith for her community, and often prays for understanding and wisdom when things appear impossible.

I also enjoyed the depiction of the close family ties and the challenges that such extended family groups presented during such a long arduous exile.  I'm glad to have an opportunity to consider that these people had no idea where they were going, much less that it would take decades to get there!  I forget that reality when I read scriptures.  Moses kept admonishing them that God was purifying their hearts through this process.  This makes me keenly aware that the redemptive process is a lifelong journey!  

Oh that I will trust God like Miriam!  Daily asking for wisdom and direction!  Can you tell I'm a HUGE fan of Jill Eileen Smith's work?  Her biblical fiction is superb!!  Enjoy!!


About the Author:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a King and Star of Persia: Esther's Story. She is also the author of the nonfiction books When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams and She Walked Before Us. 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 www.jilleileensmith.com.