Monday, October 20, 2014

Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould

Can Bea and Ben turn rivalry into romance?

Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows.

One person she'll never be able to find peace with though is Ben Rupp. They've known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

Publisher: Bethany House, 2014
Cover Photography: Mike Habermann Photography, LLC
Cover Design: Jennifer Parker

My Review
In all honesty, I normally shy away from Amish fiction. The few Amish stories I have picked in the past left me less than satisfied, therefore I tend to gravitate toward other genres instead. However, I hadn't read anything by Leslie Gould yet and the cover was gorgeous, so I chose this book to review. The result? It definitely changed my mind toward Amish fiction. The main characters were spunky, as promised by the book's description, and the writing pulled me into the story immediately. The storyline was enjoyable and unique and it had a great cast of supporting characters.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who already enjoys Amish fiction, or anyone who'd like to give this genre a try. I gave this book 4 stars.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stolen by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD with Cecil Murphey

There is HOPE, even on the darkest of days…

A twelve year old girl—verbally, mentally, physically, and sexually abused—walks into a church in 1985, hears the word of God preached by Billy Graham, and gives her life to Christ during the invitation where Mr. Graham points his finger at her and says, “Remember this: God will never leave you or forsake you.” Little did this girl, or Billy Graham, know how special those words would become to her a year later when she was naively lured into sex trafficking.

Katariina Rosenblatt was a lonely and abused young girl, yearning to be loved, wanting attention. That made her the perfect target. On an ordinary day, she met a confident young woman—someone Kat wished she could be like—who pretended to be a friend while slowly luring her into a child trafficking ring. A cycle of false friendships, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.

As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, her ultimate escape, and her passionate efforts to now free other victims, you’ll see that not only is sex trafficking happening frighteningly close to home—it’s also something that can be stopped. Stolen is a warning, a celebration of survival, and a beacon of hope that will inspire you.

Authors: Katariina Rosenblatt and Cecil Murphey
Publisher: Revell, 2014
Cover art: Design Source Creative Services

My Review
Tears fell from my eyes as I read Katariina’s story, both happy and sad. Joyous for her survival and amazement at how merciful God is. Grieved for everything she endured and how frighteningly real and more common sex trafficking is becoming. I rarely read anything that’s not fiction, and I write contemporary romance so why did I choose this book? I chose this book because I’m a Sunday school teacher to a group of pre-teen girls, many of whom live in abusive situations and ride the bus to church. I want to be aware of child predators so not only can I protect my own children, but so I can help protect other children as well. Human trafficking is on a steady rise and as much as I’d like to pretend it doesn’t happen, it does. Billy Graham had no way of knowing how his words to Katariina would pull her through the toughest times in her life. How his words would point her to Jesus, the Light in the darkness, the Hope in a hopeless situation. A situation most don’t survive. Our cause for Christ has a purpose.

I recommend this book to anyone with children, especially girls. I also recommend this book to anyone who works with children. Get to know the facts, know the signs. Are parts of this book difficult to read? Yes, but they’re vital to learning the truth. I appreciate Katariina for sharing her story with the world, which I’m sure wasn’t easy, and for her continuous effort in helping other victims.


Katariina Rosenblatt, LLM, PhD, is living proof of the promise she heard long ago at a Billy Graham crusade that God would never forsake her. Katariina has a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution and an LLM graduate law degree in intercultural human rights, and she works closely with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and Homeland Security to eliminate human slavery. She also founded Stolen Ones—There Is H.O.P.E. For Me, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing other victims of human trafficking. For more information, visit She lives in Florida.

Cecil Murphey has written or coauthored more than 130 books, including the bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper and the autobiography of Franklin Graham, Rebel with a Cause. He was a collaborator on the bestseller Gifted Hands with Dr. Ben Carson. Cecil resides in Georgia.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pulling Weeds

Cute isn’t he? Our youngest is still at the age where he enjoys working—he says it’s fun—because it makes him feel grown up. Our oldest children, ages ten and twelve, found out a long time ago work is far from fun. But enjoyable or not, pulling weeds is vital to a successful vegetable or flower garden. The same goes for our lives. We must pull the weeds of negativity and hurt, even if it means refusing to let others take advantage of us. Except we’re Christians, so standing firm against others when we know we should is wrong if it will upset the other person, right? WRONG!

Jesus called people out when needed and spoke the truth bluntly. Just look at the account of the moneychangers in the temple, or the times the Pharisee’s attempted to trick Him into saying or doing something wrong. The key is Jesus did so in love. He stated the facts and those individuals could choose to listen and change or ignore Him, but either way He still loved them. Enough to die on the cross for them (us), in fact. So what does this have to do with weeds?
I’ve been reading a fantastic book by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. Degler, Ph.D. called No More Christian Nice Girl. The truths in this book are profound. You see, from the time we females are born we’re taught to be nice—never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings, always do what we can to help others, be soft-spoken, never rude, and—if raised in a strict religious household—remain silent, keeping opinions and ideals to ourselves, especially in the presence of men. Problem is these characteristics can be poisonous if not used correctly. Over time we grow so accustom to these traits we let others trample upon us like a doormat. It’s time to take the Welcome sign off our foreheads and be, as the book states, the 360-degree human God created us to be. Yes, Jesus is love, but he’s more than just love. What’s killing a lot of churches today is that His gentle and kind side is the only side of Him being taught. Folks are putting God in a box and refusing to experience the rest of Him. How can we conform to His image if we only choose to study one aspect of His personality?
This book not only walks the reader through the 360-degree Jesus, giving many examples of this truth from scripture, but also provides a study of many women from the Bible who chose to be bold and were blessed for doing so. See, being silent isn’t always the best option. Even when in the presence of men.

          Topics covered in this book include:
*Social and Cultural Pressures
*Harmful Childhood Experiences
*Friendships and Family
"Nice girl” syndrome negatively affects every one of these areas. Yes, even sex. So if you want a beautiful, inviting, more productive life garden start pulling weeds!

To purchase your copy of No More Christian Nice Girl, click here! 

*Yes, there's also No More Christian Nice Guy! Click here!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys’ coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She’s returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel’s family, the girls’ basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she’s given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she’d expected.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2014
Cover Design by Dan Thornberg, Design Source Creative Services

My Review
We all have dreams. Our parents have dreams for us. God has a plan for our lives. But what if all of these things don’t coincide? Do we choose to please others, please God, or please ourselves?

Lula Bowman’s mother wanted her to pursue music. But when her mother dies, Lula feels lost and chooses to please her father by achieving his dream of her becoming the first Oklahoma female to obtain a Ph.D. Not only is she a talented pianist, but Lula discovers she’s a brilliant mathematician as well. Determined to shed her former image of “Fruity Lu,” she throws herself into her studies, wins the Donally Mathematics Award to further her education, and works as a college professor while she finishes her schooling. A breath away from achieving her Ph.D., Lula’s sister, Jewel, calls to tell Lula she’s lost her husband to a freak accident and needs her to come back home. Being the only unmarried sibling without any “responsibilities,” Lula’s brothers and sisters decide Lula’s the only one capable of moving in with Jewel and her five children. As much as Lula wants to help her family, her education is at risk. Reluctantly, she leaves her college teaching position to accept the opening for a music teacher/girls’ basketball coach in Dunn. She’s determined to help Jewel get back on her feet so she can earn her degree. But when the handsome mathematics teacher and boys’ basketball coach, Chet Vaughn, makes Lula question the motive of her dreams, will she seek God's plan for her life and discover what she’s always wanted? Or will she continue to please others and follow the dreams of her dying father?

Playing by Heart is my favorite book by Anne Mateer. Written in first person, the character’s voices are strong and engaging. I love stories with tough, independent women and Lula hit the mark. Though I’m not normally a sports fan, this story had me wanting to attend a local basketball game. The plot was beautifully crafted and kept me turning the pages. A lovely story of self-discovery and learning to seek God’s plan for our lives versus following the plans others have for us. I gave this book 5 stars!

Anne Mateer has a passion for history and historical fiction, and her vacations often revolve around research trips in different parts of the country. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults. For more information about Anne and her books, please visit her website and blog at