Book Review: Shine Like the Dawn


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This is an instance where I chose to read a book purely by its beautiful cover!  Isn’t it lovely? Shine Like the Dawn is a stand alone novel written by Carrie Turansky. This book is Christian Romance and Historical Fiction. As an avid reader of this genre I would say that I like this book, but did not love it. I have the tendency to gush over my favorites, and dread reviewing a book when I can’t. It isn’t that this book doesn’t have all the essential elements, but that it is slow.

Shine Like the Dawn has a promising prologue that piqued my interest and made me excited to read. This novel is about a young woman, Margaret Lounsbury, who survived a terrible tragedy that forever changed her life. Maggie lost her parents in an accident which seemed incomprehensible. Her childhood friend, Nathaniel Harcourt, returns home and promises to help Maggie find the real reason behind the accident. The answer could forever change their friendship. It is after the story’s powerful beginning, I slowly began to lose interest. Perhaps the set up took some time, but somewhere around the middle I was reading purely to finish. I really hate to say that! I do love historical fiction and I wanted to love this book. I have read other novels by Carrie Turansky and loved them.

Having said that, if you enjoy a slower paced book, this is likely a good choice for you. I think more page time between Nate and Maggie might have helped my interest level. I would recommend this book to young readers because Turansky writes a clean novel with strong values. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way and all opinions are my own.

About the author: CARRIE TURANSKY is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Maggie Award of Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals, Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband Scott. They have five adult children and four grandchildren.

Helping Kids With Choices


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Your Magnificent Chooser is a new book that aims to help children understand the power within them to make choices. This book is written by John Ortberg author of All The Places to Go, and What is God’s Will For My Life. Both of these titles are for adults but also about decision-making. Ortberg is clearly aware of our struggles! I loved the idea of this book. If there is something I have said as a parent over and over again, it is “Make Good Choices!’

I really enjoyed this book for its fun approach to teaching about choices. It is colorful and written in rhyme which appeals to most kids. The illustrator did a nice job of making the “chooser” look happy and whimsical and not scary. The balloon like floating cloud represents the part of a person that makes choices. Perhaps Ortberg is alluding to the soul…which is a bit much for a child. I think the book is a good resource for parents with children from ages 4-7.  There are a few things that I personally found to be misses. First, the word chooser is a mouth full when you are trying to read the book aloud. In fact, Chooser and Choosing are used a combined 42 times!  I read Your Magnificent Chooser to my kids and I began to trip over the word. Secondly, the book is a little long for a young audience. It is 38 pages, with  one or two -four line stanzas on each page.

Overall, I really liked this book. The idea behind and the content is excellent. I would recommend this book to any parent who is trying to teach good decision-making. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not required to give a positive review.

New from Judah Smith!


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New York Times Bestselling Author of Jesus is_________., asks a thought proving question in his new release, How’s Your Soul?  I find it funny that he uses a contraction in the title, because he writes the entire book in the same casual speak. In fact, this book is very much like sitting in a room with Smith and simply talking to someone you know well. I think it is comforting to listen to Smith who never speaks above understanding and is never heady with theology.

As the title of the book eludes, Judah Smith is asking if your soul is in a healthy place. If haven’t considered the question, it might be time, and this is likely the book for you. Smith walks through intriguing ideas like having a quiet soul in a hectic, fast past world, and how having an effective soul leads to an effective life and what that looks like. My favorite nugget in the entire book is in the chapter Is Love God or Is God Love. It is here Smith unwraps the idea that love is a roof without skylights. Smith states with regard to people in sin, “We publicly cover them and privately restore them with the goal of bringing health in their lives.” Smith encourages us to not be exposers, but to be a safe place for hurting people. I love this. It is very different from much of what we hear and see in our world…and on social media.

Even if you are still kicking the tires on the idea of God, or are a life-long Christ Follower, I would recommend this book to you, There aren’t many Christian Living-Help books I would say that about or encourage people to read. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by BookLookBloggers and the book’s publisher. I have not been compensated, and I was not required to give a positive review.

New Bible Trivia Book for Kids and Adults


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This new book written by Troy Schmidt is truly a gem. I have had a difficult time getting through it because my two boys have held it hostage. I often find them sitting together going through the jokes and trivia. The best thing about this book, is that it is not just for kids. My husband and I have also enjoyed the trivia, lists and jokes. Further, I think this book is a great resource for young adult groups, youth groups, and any event in which you need Bible trivia and riddles.

Inside the cover, you will find knock knock jokes (my kid’s favorites), multiple choice trivia, word scrambles, corny jokes, matching games, “Did You Know” about the Bible (many I did not!), fun lists, interesting ice breakers, and so much more. In total, there are more than 160 pages of fun and entertaining in this book! As I said before, the appropriate age is more of range. Any child to adult would absolutely enjoy Bible Trivia, Jokes, & Fun Facts for Kids by Troy Schmidt.

Often, I give books I review away or I run the risk of need a bigger house to store them. This book is a keeper. I am excited to use it for game time or gatherings; we will use it often. I was given a copy of this book to review by its publisher, Bethany House. I was not required to give a positive review.

A New Favorite from Tamera Alexander


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I have had the privilege of reading all three books in Tamera Alexander’s Belmont Mansion series.  This last book, A Note Yet Unsung is without a question my favorite of the three! It was a fantastic ending to a fabulous series!! While this book is third in the series, you could absolutely read it as a stand alone. Tamera Alexander does include characters from the previous books, but in a fun flashback sort of way.

A Note Yet Unsung, is a charming story about a tenacious woman before her time. Rebekah Carrington has arrived home to Nashville from Vienna without money or a safe place to live. She is an extremely talented musician living in a time when women are not invited to participate in symphonies. She soon finds that the city has acquired its own philharmonic with a promising conductor, Nathaniel T. Whitcomb. The war is over and times are changing… perhaps Mr. Whitcomb will offer her an opportunity to live her dream. Her hope for her future rests in hands.

I love the way Tamera Alexander develops this story. There is no love at first sight or unbelievable relationship created. Page by page, Rebekah and Nathaniel get to know one another. I love the amount of page time dedicated to the development of their story. This story is perfection, an easy five stars. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Netgalley. I was not required to give it a positive review. To be perfectly honest, I was patiently waiting for this book’s release so I could request it. I would have purchased a copy for myself because Tamera Alexander is in my top three must read authors!!


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Every year I eagerly await a new story from my favorite author Laura Frantz. When I know my copy is in route to my mailbox I can hardly stand the anticipation! Laura Frantz is a historian, wordsmith, and a poet. Frantz’s newest novel, A Moonbow Night, does not disappoint! I hung on every word and turned every page with great anticipation.

In A Moonbow Night, author Laura Frantz has penned a tale of love and hardship in the wilderness. It so reminds me of the stories like Legends of the Fall or a River Runs Through It. The leading lady, Temeperance is lovely but strong and a heroine in her own right. Sion, the man who invades Tempe’s life and heart, in my mind is handsome like Brad Pitt and rough around edges. They meet at the Moonbow Inn on the Shawnee River run by Tempe and her family. Sion comes to find that he needs Tempe’s help as a guide to complete his work as a surveyor. They set out together on a dangerous trek through the wilderness where they will risk their lives and hearts.

I was totally captivated by this story! I am blown away by Frantz’s ability to write a new story with unique characters. This book is wonderful and I stayed up late a few nights so I could read it without interruption! I whole heartedly recommend A Moonbow Night to anyone who enjoys historical fiction done well. I was given a complimentary copy to this book by its publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. In all honesty, I would have bought this book had I not received a review copy.

A New Book from Julie Klassen


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I am a long time fan of author Julie Klassen. I have read every book she has written with the exception of The Silent Governess. My favorites include The Secret of Pembrooke Park, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Painter’s Daughter.  Klassen’s new novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, is a bit different than her prior novels. I can’t say that it will make my list of favorites, but it could be a start to an interesting series.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill isn’t so much about a single character but about an entire town with a focus on a number of characters.  If you follow period dramas and novels, I would liken the setting to Lark Rise to Candleford with hints of Jane Austen and even the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Klassen discloses these as inspiration in her Author’s Notes, but I assumed so as I read…especially because of a character named Sir Timothy (Lark Rise to Candleford).

Of all the characters Klassen writes about in this novel, my least favorite was Thora who gets quite a bit of page time. I am pretty sure she was meant to be more like a Dorkus (Lark Rise again) but I couldn’t shake the image of Harriet Olsen from Little House on the Prairie.  Thora is a tough middle aged woman who lacks any gentility and was difficult to pull for in the story. My favorite character, Jane, didn’t get as much page time as Thora. Well, at least it felt that way.  The book begins with Jane and her current predicament of widowhood, looming debt, and an Inn she never really had much to with that is now hers to run. This novel is not about Jane finding love again, or being rescued by anyone but herself.  I’ll admit that I am a sucker for romantic historical fiction and because all romance in this book belongs to Thora…I struggled.

I will read the next book in this series, with hope that I will see some closure for characters I feel like I have come to know. Klassen is still one of my favorite authors, this just wasn’t my favorite book. It took me longer than usual to get through, but I did finish.  I would encourage you to read The Painter’s Daughter to really get why Klassen is such an amazing writer. She really is top notch.  I was given a complimentary copy of this title by its publisher. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions and thoughts are my own and I have not been compensated.

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow, a Review


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I am a long-time raving fan of Gina Homolka, the author and blogger of  In a frantic search for dinner ideas a few years ago I stumbled upon her blog and new instantly I had hit the jackpot. I love Gina’s recipes for many reasons including their simplicity, flavors, and fresh takes on old favorites. If you aren’t familiar with Gina and, it’s time to visit her blog and be blown away by the endless dinner ideas and meal plans!

To say that I was excited to get my copy of skinny taste Fast and Slow,  would be the understatement of the year. First of all, this cookbook is beautiful. The pictures inside are lovely and definitely inspire me to cook everything in the book! Secondly, the cookbook is well organized, with sections devoted to healthy mornings, one-bowl meals, to meatless mains and so much more. Each recipe also has a key (just like her blog) labeling it quick, pressure cooker, slow cooker, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or freezer-friendly. Every recipe has nutrition information and well thought out instructions.


Because I am long time fan, I have already tested and tried a few of the recipes in this skinnytate Fast and Slow. I have made Gina’s Avocado Toast, Lasagna Soup (ah-mazing), and One-Pot Pasta and Broccoli. Last night I made her Pasta e Fagioli.  I am embarrassed to admit that I love the Olive Garden for this particular soup. If I am there, Pasta e Fagioli is what I eat.  I love Gina’s take on this classic soup because it is light and healthy.


It so happens I had company last night and I made the soup two ways. One of my guests has a disease that requires her to eat vegan with no animal fat or any fat of any kind.  You can find Gina’s recipe here. I made her version with one exception. I added my basil to the blender with the beans so my kids wouldn’t detect it and I wouldn’t have to chop it.  For my vegan friend, I cooked the onion and garlic in a little bit of water instead of oil and omitted the Parmesan cheese rind. (which by the way does something amazing to the soup. I love so many of Gina’s recipes.This one will become part of my regular dinner menus because my kids ate it with gusto and asked for seconds!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. I was not obligated to give this book a positive review. However, in all honestly, I would have purchased this book if I had not received a review copy! It is a cookbook worth its shelf space.

The Lord’s Prayer & Rick Warren


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I love this simple and lovely children’s book published by Zonderkidz. It is the Lord’s Prayer written in the King James Version, which is the version most of us would have memorized as children. Also included with each line of the prayer is a simple explanation of the verse written for children by Rick Warren.

This book is appropriate for children ages birth (it is never to early to start reading to your kids!) to five or six years.  The cover is hardback and I would call this a board book. The pages are not paper but board. Inside, the illustrations are muted in color. The children pictured on each page appear real to life and are different ethnicities and varied ages. I love this book as a Christmas present for a baby or toddler on your list. It would definitely be treasured by the family that receives it.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. I was not obligated to give it a positive review and all my opinions are own. I was interested in this particular book because of its content and the contribution of Rick Warren.

Do Grown-ups Color?


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Do grown-ups color? I know they paint and sculpt, but do they really color…in coloring books? I will be the first to admit that when my kids were young enough to have coloring books, I would color with them. There is something relaxing about it. My two boys rarely color anything unless compelled to for a school project I have seen adult coloring books in stores recently and I have been more than a little tempted.

My interest was definitely piqued when I saw this amazing book by Waterbrook. Not only are the pages filled with beautiful design, but also with Bible verses and inspirational quotes. Some of my favorites include:

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 

Psalms 30:5 Rejoicing comes in the morning. 

“When in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.” – Stuart K. Hine

And a sample for you:


Yes, I think grown-ups can color! These images are beautiful and would look lovely around my house. (Provided I stay in the lines!) This book would be perfect for a daily quite time, a road trip, waiting on appointments, as a gift, or even for relaxing before bed as long as you are not OCD.

I counted 45 lovely pictures to color. Each picture is on card-stock type thick paper. On the back of each picture is the verse and reference or quote and author. These can definitely be framed. I received a complimentary copy of this book by its publisher. As a bonus, the publisher has included a soundtrack in the back of the book via Spotify  to enjoy as you color!  I was not required to give it a positive review!

I had a hard time finding it on amazon, so click here to find it!