Taking My Life Back by Rebekah Gregory

On April 15, 2013, Rebekah Gregory and her five-year-old son waited at the finish line of the Boston Marathon to support a friend who was running. When the blast of a homemade bomb packed with nails and screws went off three feet away, Rebekah’s legs took the brunt of the explosion, protecting her son from certain death. Seventeen surgeries and sixty-five procedures later, she finally made the decision to have her left leg amputated.

This stirring memoir tells the story of her remarkable recovery–including her triumphant return to Boston two years later to run part of the race and her participation in the trial of one of the terrorists–and explores the peace we experience when we learn to trust God with every part of our lives: the good, the bad, and even the terrifying. – from publisher’s website


I remember where I was and how I heard about the Boston bombings and it was eye-opening to read about how it affected someone not just at the event itself, but recovering from it and as she says, taking her life back. I liked how Rebekah didn’t sugarcoat her story and I felt she did a good job of talking about her own mistakes she’d made in her life. I also liked how she didn’t paint herself as a victim but as someone who was living in spite of everything. She focused more on how she recovered from the effects of the bombings than the actual bombings themselves. I also liked what she said about happy endings and that she calls them happy continuations because it doesn’t end but rather continues.

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah? – from author’s website


I think this was probably my favorite Denise Hunter book. I loved the story of redemption and forgiveness in a broken marriage. The brokenness of the two characters and how different their pasts were brought a depth to the story that tugged at my heart strings. I thought the difficult subject was presented in a beautifully broken way that was both delicate but not skimping over the tough parts. Through flashbacks, you experience how they first fell in love and how critical points in Josephine’s life affected her. Through the present, you experience the brokenness that came from their choices that resulted in a failed marriage and their story of redemption.

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires. – from author’s website


This was another delightful read from Karen Witemeyer. It was a little different than most of her books in that it followed the main romance but also had a side romance. The way Witemeyer did it was tasteful and still gave you the depth to her characters that you normally expect from her. I could relate to almost all of the characters in some manner and it made the story more enjoyable for me. I liked how Witemeyer took the modern online dating and put it in the past as two people talking over the wire using Morse code. I guess one negative thing I could say about the book was that I wished I could have fallen deeper into Helen’s story and have it as a separate book, but I guess that attests to how well I enjoy Witemeyer’s characters.

A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

Could losing everything be the best thing to happen to Annabelle Thorley?

In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she’s taken for granted are called into question.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.
– from author’s website


This was the first book of Sarah Ladd’s that I’ve read and I enjoyed it and may read more of hers in the future. This is the third book in the series but it can be read as a stand-alone. I don’t think the characters from the other books even appear in this one. I would have liked the suspense to be more consistent throughout the book, but I still enjoyed trying to reason through who the murderer was and why it happened. The romance between Owen and Annabelle was sweet and I really liked Owen’s daughter. I really enjoyed the scenes his daughter was in. They were probably my favorite.

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town’s red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn’t limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well–if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.

David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father’s companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he’s shown interest in Evelyn’s work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause.

They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? – from author’s website


I enjoyed this book. I loved that Evelyn worked in an orphanage as that has been something that interests me. I wasn’t sure how to feel about Evelyn’s secret but liked how she acted because of it and how she kept her integrity during the time before she realized how it ended. I also liked how David still loved her in spite of Evelyn’s secret. I enjoyed seeing characters from previous books in this series. This book spent some time in the red light district but I would still consider it a light historical romance that dealt with a few darker issues without diving too deep into them.

Reunion by Bruxy Cavey

Is it possible that over the centuries the church has altered the message of Christ? Has modern Christianity wrapped itself so tightly in a fragmented, inactive version of the gospel that the life-changing message of God has been smothered? Pastor Bruxy Cavey thinks the answer is yes. He speaks to a new generation interested in Jesus but embarrassed by Christians in his latest book, (re)union: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints, and Sinners (coming May 2017).

“The message of Jesus changed the world . . . until the world changed the message,” says Cavey. “But I’m happy to say that there is a growing movement of truth-seekers and Jesus-lovers who are calling for a return to the first and foundational good news message of Jesus. This book is inspired by them, and it is an invitation to join their ranks.”

In (re)union, Cavey explains why Christians shouldn’t follow the Bible—but why they will want to read it to learn how to follow Jesus. He encourages readers to discover their true citizenship in the Jesus nation, where they might be ready to die for a cause but never willing to kill for one. – from author’s website


I loved this book. Cavey explained what the Bible and real Christianity is all about in a way that makes sense and yet challenged what I believed. At times he said things that shocked me like how as Christians, we don’t need to follow the ten commandments anymore, but as I continued reading and how he brought it all back to Jesus, it made sense. He addresses some concerns he knows people will have with what he says and explains why he believes the way he does. I may need to read this book a few times for everything to sink in fully, but it is not theological in the sense that many apologists and theologians make it out to be. It is written for the ordinary person and you don’t need a degree in theology to understand it. I recommend this book to anyone, as Cavey says, is a seeker, a saint, or a sinner.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Menno Media and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen’s lives are adrift. If Lord Hazen discovers them, he will kill Steffan and force Magdalen to marry his own spoiled son—to insure the success of his evil plans. A Goose Girl retelling, with shades of The Prince and the Pauper. – from author’s website


I enjoy Melanie Dickerson’s books and this one was no exception. I’ve always been fascinated with fairy tales, although I sometimes laugh at how ridiculous some of them are. I like how Dickerson has created ones that have a semblance of it could have happened. I also love the setting and time periods for her books. This one is set in the medieval time period so it has knights, dukes, lords, coups, etc. At times I found the characters to be a bit young but that is realistic to the time period and the book is geared more towards teens and young adults. It was another delightful read from Dickerson.

Words of Grace: A Coloring Devotional Book by Jacqui Grace & Dee Arrand

Be Amazed by God’s Grace!

Bring new joy to your time in God’s Word by incorporating beauty and creativity. As a gentle tonic for the busyness and worries of your life, this travel-sized coloring book devotional will help you focus your attention and calm your hurried soul.

Each page spread includes Scripture, devotional thoughts, and images to color that are all designed to reconnect you with the God who knows your every need. Grab your colored pencils, crayons, or markers and set yourself free to create. But most importantly: relax, have fun, and be blessed by God’s grace. – from publisher’s website


<div align="justify"This is the first adult coloring book I've done and I enjoyed it for the most part. It is meant to be used as a devotional and I found it an interesting idea to include group questions to be able to do it like a Bible study. I enjoyed coloring the pictures, although they sometimes seemed too detailed to color. What I mean by that is that there were birds with hearts on them or some sections were so small that it was hard to stay within the lines except when the pencil crayon was freshly sharpened. So if you don't want to take the time and effort that it takes to color something really detailed, this probably wouldn't be the best book for you, but it does offer some excellent thoughts and some excellent pictures.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Grace Behind Bars by Bo & Gari Mitchell

Grace Behind Bars shares the true and dramatic account of how Bo Mitchell, businessman and chaplain for the Denver Nuggets, inexplicably ended up in federal prison only to find God’s true freedom behind bars. Ironically, it’s in a six-by-nine-foot cell that God begins to free this driven Christian leader from his prison of performance and success. In the end, Bo realizes that God’s love is a gift, not something he must earn.

But there’s more to the story: Just before Bo enters prison, his wife, Gari, becomes incapacitated by a brain illness and enters her own prison of clinical depression.

Readers will see how the couple struggled together as their world fell apart, yet ultimately grew closer to each other and God behind the bars of their trials. This story will not only inspire and encourage readers, it will show them how they, too, can find spiritual freedom in life’s “prisons” if they choose to see God’s hand in their lives. – from Focus on the Family’s website


Grace Behind Bars is a candid look at one man’s journey through prison and how pride came before his fall. It was fascinating to read how Bo and Gari didn’t become bitter about how he was treated for his unintentional crime, but rather they saw it as a lesson from God and were always open to learning what God wanted them to learn through the experience. I liked getting little snippets of Gari’s perspectives at the end of the chapters. I also liked how Bo related the lessons he learned while in prison to how they could be applicable to everyone, although in his speech he geared it to men. A lot are still great tips for everyone, regardless of gender. Their story wasn’t that relatable for me, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Hello, My Name Is: Discover Your True Identity by Matthew West

The world goes out of its way to make you believe you are not good enough. Maybe you aren’t sure you like where you’ve been, or who you’ve become. Maybe someone has made you believe a lie about who you are by speaking damaging words to you. The discovery of our true identities does not begin by looking within ourselves, but by looking to the One who made us. It is time to tear off the false name tags that cover up your true identity. Understanding who you are begins with knowing Whose you are so you can embrace your destiny as a child of the one true King. – from book’s website

I love Matthew West’s songs and think he is an excellent songwriter so I was excited to read this book. I enjoyed his stories as they gave an insight into his life and what inspires his songwriting. They were really thought out about how he incorporated them into each point he wanted to bring across. He uses stories from his life, the lives of people he’s met, and from people who have written to him. I enjoyed the writing style as well. I found it to be a conversational style and wasn’t too theological nor too flowery. It had serious moments, as well as lighter moments.