Hell-Bent on Blessings

Hell-Bent on Blessings (Brides of Blessings #3)Hell-Bent on Blessings by Heather Blanton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I grew up watching westerns on TV like The Wild, Wild West and Bonanza and Gunsmoke. If you did too, you’re going to enjoy Heather Blanton’s books. And if you didn’t – you young whippersnappers – you need to read a few and learn what good story-telling is all about! Engaging characters with their own individual strengths and flaws, classic western setting, plenty of horses (written by someone who must actually *know* horses!), and plenty of action rounds out this fun romantic romp.

Mysteries of the Messiah – GIVEAWAY!

Mysteries of the Messiah: Unveiling Divine Connections from Genesis to TodayMysteries of the Messiah: Unveiling Divine Connections from Genesis to Today by Jason Sobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you love biblical numerology, you’re going to LOVE this book! But if you’re like me, numbers begin to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher in your head, mawaw-waw-wawam. But there is plenty in here besides the numbers. It’s worth the price of the book for Chapter 9 alone – the chapter explaining Pentecost before and Pentecost after Jesus and how they are connected.

What interested me about the book in the first place was understanding more about the Jewishness (is that a word?) of Jesus. As one who grew up with the paintings of a blue-eyed, light-skinned, light-haired Jesus, I wanted to see Him more authentically. And learning that the author is also a consultant for the series “The Chosen” was a clincher.

The book delivered on that point, connecting Jesus more to His Jewish heritage. It’s not a light read – even aside from slogging through the numbers – but it’s a thoughtful one. Well worth the time if you want to see Jesus differently than Da Vinci.

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Need more info? Here’s a youtube video with the author.

Behind Love’s Wall

Behind Love's Wall (Doors to the Past)Behind Love’s Wall by Carrie Fancett Pagels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Behind Love’s Wall takes the reader on a double journey of intrigue and romance on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. Author Carrie Fancett Pagels does a well-balanced job in this dual-timeline story. From 1895 to 2020, the setting of the famous Grand Hotel immerses the reader in the grandeur and elegance of a time gone by that is still accessible today. While Lily and Stephan do their best to hide their pasts in 1895, Willa and Michael are equally determined to unearth them in 2020. There are enough tangled webs in this story to keep the reader happily turning each page. This may be my favorite book by this author yet.

Along a Storied Trail

Along a Storied TrailAlong a Storied Trail by Ann H. Gabhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Ann Gabhart classic tale of adventure and love in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Ride along with Tansy Calhoun as she delivers books to those who live up in the hills as part of the Packhorse Librarians during the Great Depression.

The story is peppered with colorful characters like Perdy Sweet and “Preacher” Rowlett and even a “slicker” from the city. There’s also a host of animal characters from an unpredictable cat to a troublesome hound pup to the leased horse Tansy rides on her routes.

The people of the Great Depression had little to survive on, and those in the hills had less than most, but what they did have was each other. Families came together – sometimes forming in ways other than bloodlines – to lend a helping hand where needed. Faith played a critical part, but also common sense and the willingness to work long and hard to make things happen. A truly inspiring story.

Love Happens at Sweetheart Farm

Love Happens At Sweetheart FarmLove Happens At Sweetheart Farm by Dalyn Weller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a sweet romance with engaging characters, a beautiful setting, and is suitable for anyone who enjoys a lighthearted story. But it also delivers deeper truths while touching on some timely societal issues. Lexi is a young woman with determination and drive – if she can just keep it focused in the right direction. Ian is the man who has everything – but he doesn’t want it. Their families deliver more characters who have their own issues to overcome. Life is beautiful, fragile, and messy. It’s good to read books like this to remind us that no matter what you see on the outside, everyone has a story on the inside.

Journey to ChiYah

Journey to ChiYahJourney to ChiYah by Kimberly Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me say upfront, if you assumed from the title that this book is a fantasy about an alternate China, it’s not. Yeah. That threw me too.

Journey to ChiYah is an allegory, like a modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress. Admittedly, not my normal type of read. (But – yes – I do occasionally climb out of history long enough to read something else.)

This is a self-published book, and having read a number of those, I have to say that this one is a cut above most. It held my interest throughout, there was a full character arc to the story, and ended with a solid finish.

The main character, Jade, is thrown into a journey and takes the reader along with her. It’s an important journey, one every Christian should be able to identify with, and one non-Christians may wish to explore.

I can recommend this book to people who enjoy allegories, to Christians who can identify with a spiritual journey, and to those who are seeking a bigger picture or greater meaning in their lives.

The Scarlet Pen

The Scarlet Pen (True Colors)The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a true-crime story woven into a historical fiction novel. I’m a fan of author Jennifer Uhlarik, so no surprise that I liked it, but there was a lot to like. The characters were believable and relatable, not perfect. The Christian faith element was strong and prominent throughout the story. The actual history was deftly blended into the fictional characters’ lives. The gruesomeness of the crimes was portrayed adequately without being gratuitous or glamorizing the evil. And it was a historical event I knew nothing about! That’s always a nice plus. This book releases on July 1st, pre-orders are up on Amazon now.

Butterfly Cottage

Butterfly CottageButterfly Cottage by Carrie Fancett Pagels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you enjoy women’s fiction that is uplifting instead of gloomy, this is your book. Told in three points of view, it explores the lives of a grandmother, a daughter, and a granddaughter with their generational differences, challenges, and goals. It’s heartwarming and realistic, you’ll feel as though you know these women by the end of the book, and you’ll hate to see them go as you close the final cover.

Avoiding Marriage

Avoiding Marriage: A Practically Married NovellaAvoiding Marriage: A Practically Married Novella by Karin Beery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fun read! I love it when minor characters from one book are brought back and fleshed out into their own stories. It’s even better when a not-so-admired character comes back to redeem themselves. You don’t need to read “Practically Married” first, but I would.

Bent Tree Bride

Bent Tree BrideBent Tree Bride by Denise Weimer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this type of story! Lots of real history, a healthy sprinkling of historical characters, and woven all through it, a beautiful love story filled with all the angst and danger and difficulty that keeps the reader turning each page. A clash of cultures with the backdrop of war is not the place to fall in love, but few people on the early 1800s frontier had the luxury of picking the time and place. Sometimes love happens amid the chaos and against the rules.

If you’ve read Weimer’s “The Witness Tree,” you will recognize a few of these characters. While a stand-alone novel, it is nice to revisit some of the friends made in that novel as well. If you haven’t read “The Witness Tree,” you should.