Monday, April 30, 2018

In His Image by Jen Wilkin

We are to be Christlike but what does that mean? Wilkin helps readers understand that this goes beyond the “What should I do?” to “Who should I be?” She reminds us that we can know God's will for our character and godly character will produce godly action.

I like that Wilkin distinguishes the character traits God alone can have, such as his omnipresence and omniscience. What she writes about in this book are the traits we are to exhibit. We are to bear the image of God, not become God. (Loc 139/1557) She explores that God is holy, loving, just, good, merciful, gracious, faithful, truthful, patient, and wise.

My favorite chapter was on justice and on how we are to secure justice for the oppressed. Or maybe it was the chapter on patience. I like how Wilkin related patience and anger. After all, we are to wait upon the Lord. That helped me understand why some people are so angry with God. I also liked her teaching on the abundant life as a life lived in humility.

The chapter that challenged me the most was the one on truth. “Truth is anything that conforms to reality,” she writes. (Loc 1217/1557) Acknowledging that God is truthful is affirming that God defines all objective reality, she says. I am still thinking about all of that.

Included at the end of each chapter are Scripture verses for further meditation, questions for discussion or journaling, and a prayer prompt.

I recommend this book to any Christian desiring to understand what it means to become more Christlike. You'll find good teaching and additional material to help you on your way.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and teacher of women's Bible studies. During her seventeen years of teaching, she has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. She and her family are members of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas.

Crossway, 176 pages. Note: this book releases May 31, 2018.

I received an advanced complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan

I enjoyed this novel of legal procedure. It was slow paced and definitely character driven. The main character, Sophie, is a prosecutor with the county district attorney's office in the Atlanta area. She's just begun working in the white collar crime unit and has a big case involving possible fraud by a bank employee. On her way home late one evening, she stops at a convenience store and witnesses a double murder. The plot concentrates on how Sophie does as a witness in one case and as a prosecutor in another. Someone tries to scare Sophie off one of the cases. A bit of romance enters in when Sophie's dad hires the handsome Cooper as her bodyguard.

We readers gain some insight into the world of prosecution and the hard work required to present a case. We also experience some of the interaction between attorneys and the politics involved in working for the county. We also feel the frustration that comes with the impediments to seeing justice done.

This is definitely a character driven novel. There is a bit of suspense here and there but not enough to call this novel one of suspense. Much of the novel deals with the thoughts of Sophie and Cooper as they realize the attraction between them and the obstacles to a potential romance. I like that Sophie and Cooper rely on their faith when the situation gets tense. 

There are some twists in the plot but I felt the ending was just a little too easy. Nonetheless, the novel is an enjoyable one. It is the second in a series and you can read my review of the first one, Deadly Proof.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including legal romantic suspense. Rachel has practiced law for over a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She and her husband live in Michigan. She is a member of ACFW and RWA. You can find more about Rachel at

Bethany House, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

Days before his college graduation, Harry receives a call from his step-mother that his father has died. The fall from a cliff is first ruled suicide. But then Harry sees a strange young woman at his father's funeral. And that proves to be the beginning of dangerous relationships and a number of deaths.

There are aspects of this novel I really liked and aspects I hated. I liked the character deception. People are not who they appear. Swanson does a good job of revealing the past in coordination with current events in “then” and “now” chapters. The back flash technique of revealing history necessary to the plot is tricky. Swanson did a pretty good job of it. If I knew when I started the novel what I know now, I would have kept a list of characters and their relationships. I did get a little confused on occasion as to who was who and was doing what to whom.

What I did not like about the novel was the prominence of sexual predators. Granted, these were older people, both men and women, partnering with consenting teens or or someone decades younger. Nonetheless, it was rather kinky and pretty weird. While these relationships were a necessary aspect of the plot, I just did not like it at all. There were no graphic descriptions but just the idea of the relationships was repulsive.

And the ending was just a little too neat. It did bring responsibility full circle to a fitting result but just did not seem very realistic or possible at all.

This is the first novel I have read by Swanson. I would certainly read another by him if I knew it did not center around strange sexual relationships. He can create a complicated and suspenseful plot with important facts being slowly revealed. This novel held my interest to the end, even when I didn't like parts of it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Peter Swanson is the author of several previous novels, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, a winner of the New England Society Book Award, and a finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. His books have been translated into thirty languages. He is a graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He and his wife live in Massachusetts.                                                 Photo by Jim Ferguson

William Morrow, 304 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Bookperk. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Generous Love by Becky Kopitzke

Our love for one another is what is to distinguish us from the rest of the world. As Christians, how are we to love well, be intentional in our love day by day?

Reading this book provided me with a wealth of information and encouragement for having generous love as a lifestyle, selflessly blessing others. I really like it that Kopitzke first dealt with what gets in the way – sin. Ouch. She reminded me of the importance of my attitude. Ouch again. I also appreciate her concerns about social media and how it might prevent me from blessing someone in person.

Then Kopitzke moved on to provide knowledge and strategy, the tools I need to intentionally bless others. She reminded me that the actions may be simple but the results life changing. She also reminded me that the little choices we make are so important.

I like the stories she tells to illustrate her teaching. Some are her own and reveal that she is like I am, still struggling to learn how to love others well. Some stories are about people who have loved others well. They are really encouraging.

Is this book practical? My goodness. Kopitzke includes 50 ways to bless people with our presence, and then 50 ways to bless people with our possessions, and the same with perspective and prayer. There is no way one can read this book and not have several ideas of how to begin showing generous love right away. There are additional resources at the author's website,

Kopitzke has included questions at the end of every chapter that could be used for personal reflection or group discussion. 

I highly recommend this book. I can't help but wonder what the world would be like if every Christian began to intentionally bless others with generous love.

Food for thought: “The key to blessing others is this: Make God your top priority.” (Loc 597/3218)

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Becky Kopitzke is a writer, speaker, mentor, dreamer, believer, lunch packer, and recovering perfectionist. She and her husband live in northeast Wisconsin with their two daughters. You can find out more at

Bethany House, 224 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Unblinded Faith by Elisa Pulliam

Sometimes we get skewed ideas about God and what He is doing in our lives. Pulliam reminds us that Satan blinds the eyes of those who don't believe and tries to make the rest of us struggle. It is sometimes hard to believe the Word and the promises it declares in the face of circumstances.

Pulliam helps readers face a number of issues concerning believing the Word. She helps us clarify our beliefs about the character of God and about what He may be doing. Maybe we don't think God loves us because we don't have the earthly possessions others have. Maybe we just cannot see how God could possibly bring any good out of what is happening to us.

Pulliam believes we desperately need the Word of God when we face the hard parts of life. Each devotion includes a verse or two from the Bible, an encouraging devotion, a Scripture passage to read, a written prayer of response, and a question or two for reflection. Readers can also find supplementary free materials, like a companion journal, at Also at that site is a link to intensive online courses she offers.

Pulliam is a life coach and it shows in this book. Her devotions are well written, are encouraging and enlightening. I appreciate her emphasis on the truth of the Word in correcting our wrong thinking about God and His actions. There are good devotions on having a right view of God, such as on God's love and acceptance. There are good devotions on thee life of the believer, such as on suffering well, trusting God, having His heart, and much more. One of my favorite devotions was about our worth, that it is from God alone and not from focusing on self-esteem.

I recommend this book to Christians who desire to be challenged in their beliefs about God, the Bible and living the Christian life. You'll get good teaching and encouragement based on biblical truths in these 90 devotionals.

Food for thought:
May I long for Your ways more than mine.” (Loc 857/1917)
Trusting in the Lord isn't about changing the outcome. It's about learning to trust God with the outcome, no matter what.” (Loc 1119/1917)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Elisa Pulliam is the author of Meet the New You and the founder of the ministry More to Be. She is a certified life coach, mentor and speaker who is passionate about helping women to experience authentic life change and lasting impact through a fresh encounter with God and His Word. She and her husband have four children. You can find out more about her and her ministry at

Harvest House, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Wonder Years by Leslie Leyland Fields

Getting older for women can be traumatic, especially crossing over the big 40. Body parts start to sag. The possibility of having children declines. The nest gets emptier.

Fields has gathered forty essays by a variety of people who share how they dealt with the impact of aging. Some made adjustments for their aging bodies. Some survived changes in marital status. Some dealt with psychological issues like shame or guilt. Some dealt with career changes. All relate their changes in behavior or thinking brought on by the realization that they were getting older.

This book is definitely for women only. Stories about buying a padded bra for the first time or about finally making it past menopause would not be suitable for guys. Many of the essays are from previously published books or magazines. All of the articles are entertaining and are good encouragement for women needing inspiration as they age. Some of the essays are by women in their 80s or 90s and are certainly an encouragement to those us us moving into our final decades.

Some of the articles have a definite Christian flavor but not all of them. I found some of the stories caused me to wonder why there wasn't a greater emphasis on finding our worth in our relationship with Jesus. Really, how do sagging body parts compare to God Who loves us unconditionally?

The essays in this book contain, in general, good encouragement from older and wiser women.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Leslie Leyland Fields is the author of eleven books. She teaches English at Seattle Pacific University, serves on the editorial board of Christianity Today, and is the founder of the Harvester Island Wilderness workshop. She lives in Kodiak, Alaska. You can find out more at

Kregel Publications, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Adamant by Lisa Bevere

Bevere realizes the word adamant has special meaning. It indicates a diamond kind of stability. Jesus is our rock, our adamant. Simon had his name changed to Peter, rock. God is adamant in His love and mercy toward us. Surprisingly, God is also adamant in His hate. Bevere writes about our being adamant too, such as in our speaking.

I found much in this book that was not new to me. It is a good reminder of God's rock solid love and mercy. Bevere also encourages readers to be rock solid in our Christian life and character. I would have liked some practical tips and suggested actions to help readers put her teaching into practice. There are a couple of Appendixes filled with useful Scriptures.

My favorite part of the book was the section on the distinction between truth and what is true. I had never thought of this before. What is true could be true for the moment, such as that it is not raining right now. Living in the Pacific Northwest, that may not be true for long. But truth is for all time and all people. What a great distinction.

This book is good for Christians who have difficulty believing God loves them unconditionally. Bevere shares stories from her own experiences and stories from the Bible to illustrate her teaching.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Lisa Bevere is a New York Times bestselling author. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. She and her husband, John Bevere, cofounded Messenger International, an organization committed to developing uncompromising followers of Christ who transform the world. When not traveling, she lives in Colorado with her family. Find out more at

Revell, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Love, Amy by Amy Young Blog Tour and Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Love, Amy  
Author: Amy Young  
Genre: Memoir  
Release Date: June, 2017
She came to China with a lesson plan. What she found was a new sense of purpose.
Amy Young traveled to China in the mid 1990s to teach English to educators. But she never expected the profound way they would enrich her soul. With the influence of the enchanting country and its extraordinary everyday people, Amy extended a two-year assignment to nearly two decades far away from home.
Starting shortly after her arrival, Amy shared her stories and her unique perspective through a series of letters. Her nine years of correspondence demonstrated a country going through growing pains: from political unrest to the SARS epidemic to budding prosperity. Amy battled language barriers, cultural faux pas, and invasive mice with nothing to lose. She even fought for her life with a potentially deadly illness, unsure if she’d survive to share her tale.
Throughout her journey, Amy drew strength from God and came to appreciate the beauty and power of an ordinary life lived well.Love, Amy: An Accidental Memoir Told in Newsletters from China is one woman’s deeply moving journey of self-transformation. If you like humorous anecdotes, immersions in Eastern culture, and honest stories that aren’t afraid to dig deep, then you’ll love Amy Young’s heartfelt tale.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review:

I enjoyed Young's book. Her letters to her supporters while she was in China are very informative and entertaining. I really like how she combines her personal experiences with changes happening in the culture, her emotional ups and downs, the people she met, and much more. It was also very interesting to read about the attitudes of the Chinese when an American president did something the Chinese did not like.

Young is a great story teller. I like the stories she told about the places she went, the relationships she made and the students she taught. Of course, the best stories were the ones about mice and killing them with a frying pan. Young is able to communicate the flavor of her experiences without complaining or sounding proud. She includes a nice balance of information and reflection on her experiences with a bit of humor thrown in. Reading this memoir gives a good sense of all that was involved in teaching English in a foreign country in the late 1990s.

Young offers tips on newsletter writing too. Those involved in writing newsletters to supporters would do well to read this book, finding good examples of her newsletter writing ideas. Whether newsletter writer or not, this was an entertaining and informative memoir.

About the Author

Amy Young is a writer, speaker, and advocate for embracing the messy middle of your one glorious life. Author of Looming Transitions, Twenty Two Activities for Families in Transition, and The Looming Transitions Workbook, she also created the blog The Messy Middle (, has been a part of Velvet Ashes, (an online community for missionaries) from the beginning, and contributes regularly to A Life Overseas. Amy enjoys nothing more than being with her people, wherever they are in the world. She also enjoys cheering on the Denver Broncos and Kansas Jayhawks. After nearly twenty years in China, she returned to Denver and much to her shock, discovered she enjoys gardening.

Guest Post from Amy Young

The tug for a life that is “Anything but Boring” When I was in college the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Sarah Plain and Tall changed my life. You’ve probably seen it and been moved too. Sarah, a spinster by the standard of her day, moves from Boston to the fields of Kansas to consider marrying a widower and help him raise his children and work his farm. Her brother could not understand why Sarah would move from so-called civilization to the middle of nowhere. But the longing she felt for her life to matter resonated deeply with me. I was in the liminal space between adolescence and adulthood. Like Sarah, I knew I could stay where I was and live a good life, but I wanted more. And so I moved to China. Our world is one that loves big, change-the-world stories. I love them too. I remember reading The End of the Spear, the story of Jim Elliott and his friends who were martyred for their faith. I also lost myself in the stories of Gladys Aylward, William Carey, Lottie Moon, and Amy Carmichael. I remember reading about a missionary that had some worm pulled out of his stomach that was the size of a large snake. Disgusting! Fascinating! All for the gospel! The life of faith was exciting and God was on the move all the time! While it is true, the life of faith is exciting and God is on the move, it is also ordinary, boring, disappointing, and confusing. When I started compiling the letters I wrote from my days in China, I was embarrassed by what “first year Amy” said. She was so clueless, so uninformed, so willing to display her lack of cultural knowledge. I wanted to put my hand over her mouth and ask her to please pipe down because she did not really believe what she was saying. But she did, “first year Amy” could not know what “fifteen year in China Amy” knew. These change the world stories I love? Turns out they have been more sanitized than I realized without showing the cultural and ministry progression that must have taken place. Even now, knowing what I know, part of me wishes my newsletters contained miracles and throngs coming to Christ because of my work. I thought throngs and miracles were what a “real” cross-cultural worker would do. I thought that would show that my life mattered, like Sarah’s when she moved to Kansas. Don’t we all want our lives to matter? I believed that mattering was measurable. By compiling and writing this book the lesson Love, Amy has taught me is that too often we confuse size with significance. I still hear the whisper that says, “Amy, really? You wrote about the cultural beliefs that influence standing in line and you think that is worth people giving of their prayer, money, and time?” Part of me is reluctant even now to publish these letters because they are common. In truth, I am happy with my life and the contributions I have made. Of course I have regrets and wish I’d handled certain situations differently. But if all we hear are the spectacular stories, we can miss the gift our beautifully ordinary lives can be. Who made it into the Gospels? A widow and her two mites. A boy and his few fish. She is described as offering out of her poverty. His common lunch was used to feed more than he could have imagined. Jesus did not tend to elevate those in power or those who seemed impressive. My first year, a fellow teacher in China told me, “You’re lucky you’re still in your first year. Wait until your second year and you have told all your stories. You’ll have nothing to say in your newsletters.” Isn’t that the heart of what we fear—that we will have nothing to say with our lives? The secret to combating this fear is not that secretive. Show up and be present. Taken individually, these letters don’t add up to much, but put them together and much to my surprise, month after month I wrote an accidental memoir. As ordinary as it is, I do have to say, life in China was anything but boring! If you love memoirs and want to hear stories that will make you laugh or cringe (and sometimes both), join me on a college campus in China.

Blog Stops

Mary HakeApril 21
Texas Book-aholicApril 22
Carpe DiemApril 23
Simple Harvest ReadsApril 25 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
All-of-a-kind MomApril 26
Pursuing StacieApril 27
Lots of HelpersApril 27
A Greater YesApril 29
BigreadersiteMay 2
margaret kazmierczakMay 2 (Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Amy is giving away a grand prize of a letter writing basket that includes a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Alice's Notions by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Book Synopsis:

In this quaint mountain town, things aren't always what they seem.

World War II widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn't know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons.

Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn't know who she can trust.

You can purchase a copy here.

My Review:

I enjoyed this novel set in a small town in post WW II America. We are familiar with the concept of terrorist cells in the U. S. after 9/11 but I had never thought of the same concern after WW II. Kraft has done a good job of creating a plot that highlights that very issue with communists infiltrating small town life with an aim for a national disaster.

Another issue in the novel was postwar prejudice. Alice sponsored a displaced European and was dismayed to find out when the woman arrived that she was German. Alice's husband had died in the war and Alice struggled with the thought of having a German under her roof.

The characters were rather well drawn and fit the era. I was a little disappointed that Alice wasn't quite as tough as I like in a suspense novel with a woman at the center. Greta, the German immigrant, was my favorite. She was smart and had good survival skills. I thought the male characters were a little over drawn, especially the nefarious one. I did enjoy the period dialog. I mean, who would call a woman a “doll” today?

I do recommend this novel to readers who enjoy historical fiction. Those familiar with quilt designs might find it especially interesting.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical
fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer's contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. She has other novels and novellas in print. She's been married for 39 years to the love of her life, Rick. They have two married adult children and three grandchildren.
Tamera has been a children's pastor for over 20 years. She is the leaders of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children's leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children's ministry consultant and children's evangelist and has also written children's church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children's Leaders Association Shepherd's Cup for lifetime achievement in children's ministry. You can find out more about her at You can read her newsletter at, find her on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc., 220 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.