Death by the Book by Julianna Deering

This is Julianna Deering’s 2nd book in the The Drew Farthering Mystery series. The first was Rules of Murder. I would definitely recommend startingDeath by the Book book cover  there to get to know the characters, their relationships and the setting better.

Aunt Ruth (Madeline’s aunt from America) has unexpectedly shown up. She’s worried about Madeline and suspicious of Drew’s intentions. Although a great twist to throw into their whirlwind romance, it also causes some separation in the witty crime-fighting trio from book 1 — Drew, Madeline and Nick, Drew’s best friend.

I was excited about this series. It’s been clean with good messages throughout – the kind of books I wouldn’t mind passing along to my family or friends. I love the setting – both time and location. The characters of this small English town are quirky additions. However, I haven’t been truly won over as a fan. However, on a positive note, all the book covers have been very creative! :)

…But it was truly a surprising ending! I wasn’t expecting that!

And you?



I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

“He who saves one life saves the world”Saving Amelie book cover

Rachel is a German orphan turned pampered American. She is the only child of Dr. Kramer, who is suspected of being involved with Hitler’s genetic studies.

Lea is German born and raised. Her mother died during childbirth, and she was raised by her Oma (grandmother).

Amelie is a four year old deaf daughter of an high ranking SS officer.

Jason is an ambitious American journalist in Germany.

How do their lives intersect? What is the truth of their pasts? Will there be a future for each?


Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke is set in Germany in 1939. It includes Bonhoeffer, who was a real life hero during this time. He was a German pastor, spy and martyr. He recognized early on how dangerous and twisted Hilter’s ideology was and he challenged the church to stand against it, protect others, and stand for Christ.


“Germany is at stake—heart and soul…

When the church stops standing for Jews—for anyone—then we stop begin the church. Grace is costly—it took the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, to achieve that grace. It requires just as much from each of us.

But we’ve come to practice cheap grace—grace that appears as a godly form but costs us nothing—and that is abomination, a stench in the nostrils of God.”

(Truths from Bonhoeffer shared in this historical fiction book)


This is a story that draws us in and sends us on a realistic journey through a very difficult, dangerous and twisted time in the world’s history. It was well written and I really “enjoyed” (you know what I mean) reading it. I had a hard time figuring out how to write the review, so this part took longer than even reading the book! However, I would recommend it, not just as a very good read, but as an excellent reminder to stand up for others and to not continue to allow our religious freedoms to be taken away.


Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers. It was not required that I give a positive review, but to solely express my own thoughts and opinions.

Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

If “Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money” is a priority in your parenting, then you need to read Smart Money Smart Kids by father and Smart Money Smart Kids book reviewdaughter team Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze. The book’s basic information will be familiar if you have read any of Ramsey’s books or listened to him at all. However, the difference is that it is directly written to parents who want to instill financial wisdom in their children. Also, it was nice to have it written from the point of view of a daughter who was raised with these principles and it is now succeeding as a financially responsible adult.

The chapters include Work, Spend, Save, Give, Budgeting, Debt, College, Contentment, Family, and Generational Handoff. They are easy to read, informative and practical.

My husband and I having been working through Dave Ramsey’s principles ourselves, but now this month we are beginning to plant these principals in our children’s lives and heart. This will be our “generational handoff” to bless their generation and future generations of our family.


Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Persecuted by Robin Parrish

”In American, we have become insulated in our lives to the point few people, if any, seem to understand what it means to take up their cross and Persecuted book coverfollow Christ….This is not the case in much of the world today, as elsewhere persecution is something that is understood as part of the package in accepting salvation. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”…This is a wake-up call. Many of our freedoms granted to us by God will surely be ripped away unless we make a stand. This story is just the beginning.” —from the foreword by Daniel Lusko, writer and director of Persecuted



I haven’t read a “political thriller” but after that foreword I was definitely interested to see what Persecuted: I Will Not Be Silent by Robin Parrish was about. (This book is based on the film called Persecuted by Daniel Lusko and will be in theaters July 17, 2014.)


Through many bad choices John Luther made his life rough as he grew up, but God and his dad never gave up on him. His life changed dramatically by the grace of God and the support of other Christians. Now he is the head of a ministry focused on sharing the good news of Jesus with as many as possible. However, leaders in Washington see him as a threat because he will not support their new religious-equality bill, so he is framed for several crimes …and the action begins and continues strong throughout the book! Using his experience from his past, John tries to figure out the truth to clear his name and reunite with his family. He also has to decide who he can trust and who is truly behind this plot.


Persecuted: I Will Not Be Silent by Robin Parrish is an interesting story, yet scary (because it feels so real), but and challenging (because I want to stand up for God no matter what). I strongly recommend it to all Christians—teenage and up, men and women. “It is my hope that this story inspires a new generation to get involved—to take action on behalf of persecuted Christians.” Well said, Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.


Here’s a couple quotes included in the book…


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. —First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States


The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. —Billy Graham


**Bethany House has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

As I read the subtitle of Tomlinson’s Heart Wide Open… “Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus”, the back cover summary… Heart Wide Open book cover“Shellie invites you to answer the call of your restless heart and refuse to settle for anything less than the intimate friendship of God” and the many recommendations, I knew I needed this book! So I found out what date Heart Wide Open would be available for review, marked that on my calendar and set a reminder. I purposely waited to choose a book from this publisher, making sure I wouldn’t be tied up in another book.

Once Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson arrived, I consumed it. I read, reread, and worked through the Bible Study/Discussion Guide in the back. I marked, highlighted and dog-eared page after page. I took pictures of sections and texted them to my husband, mom, mother-in-law, other family members, and friends! My husband feels like he has already read this book with everything I shared! (It is labeled as being for women, but he would also recommend this book!!) :)

This is a book from Tomlinson’s raw cry to the Lord, “I admit it. I don’t love You like I should, but I want to love You. Help!”. Her honesty touched my heart as I prayed along with her, her humor allowed me not to cry on every page, and her practicality encouraged me!

Just the titles of the chapters are great!! 1) When All You Can Bring Him is a Broken Want-To, 2) Courage for Us Not-So-Super Saints, 3) I Suppose CliffsNotes Are Out, 4) Does God Want Out of Our Quiet Times?, 5) Are Some of Us Stuck with Messed-Up Mustard Seeds?, 6) We Are Always on Our Mind, 7) May We Have Permission to Slap ‘Em Silly in Jesus’s Name?, 8) Till We See Him Face to Face. Also, don’t miss the Bible Study & Discussion Guide at the back.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. You’ll cry, laugh, and grow in your passion for Jesus!

“Father God loves you with a steadfast love. He wants to do life with you. You’re not an isolated case, someone who can’t find God. He is just as available to you as He has been to any other human being who has ever drawn a breath. This is His promise: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13).” -pg. 23


Disclosure of Material Connection: Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Candle Bible Handbook Blog Tour

by Terry Jean Day and Carol J. SmithCandle Bible Handbook book cover

Edited and revised by Dr. Tim Smith

The Candle Bible Handbook is a very colorful and sturdy reference book that goes all the way through the Bible – book by book. It’s filled with interesting facts, information, “frequently asked questions”, and even study questions for each book. The maps, timecharts, pictures, and photos are of excellent quality and great additions to this resource. This book also has topics in the appendix that cover more on the “big” ideas, promises, and people of the Bible.

As I went through this book, God used it to inspire an increasing desire to go through His Word more regularly and deeper with my kids. This is not a devotional-type book, but would be an excellent resource to add to our learning.

I would recommend The Candle Bible Handbook for families and homeschoolers, but also for an easy go to reference book for Christians to add to their Bible studies.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Defy the Night Review and Author Interview

This was an amazing and heart-wrenching story and yet totally beautiful! It is based on an historical town in France and the sacrificial efforts given toDefy the Night book cover save others – children being the focus of this novel. The characters are complex, most with back stories of pain and yet figuring out how to truly live during this war.

Magali is only 15 years old, but she has a burning desire to help. She is finally able to join Paquerette, her hero, in smuggling refugee children from internment camps. She finds the trips more difficult, exhausting, and dangerous than she could have imagined, but she longs to always be the one chosen to go. Her quick mind and determination are helpful, but she must learn that she can not save everyone. She must also let go of her pride and realize “that this is not a hero’s business.” However the lessons don’t sink in until she puts Paquerette in danger.

“There’s only one thing you can do, Magali. And that’s go on. No one turns back time. No even God. You’re not alone. You’re only young. But I tell you true, when you get to my age, there’s no one, not a one, who doesn’t have one thing they’d cut off their hand not to have done. You lie awake at night and think about it. But it’s done. The past doesn’t change. You can pray that God makes good out of it. I believe he can. But even that…even that you may never know.” [Magali’s grandfather, pg. 297]

I highly recommend Defy the Night!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Defy the Night adI’m so excited to share more from the authors, Heather Munn and Lydia Munn:


1.  What is the best part about writing a book with your mom?  How did you structure the collaboration?

Our collaboration has always been: Mom writes the book, I re-write it. This happened because she wrote two whole books before ever asking me to be her co-author! (I think she started the first one when I was about twelve, and she wasn’t about to ask me then!) So I’ve used her version sort of as an outline: it tells me what needs to happen, and I re-write it in my own words. 

The best part about writing with my Mom is that it’s kept us talking! We’ve always had a weekly phone date to talk about the books, and we’ve hashed out many a plot or pacing problem on a transatlantic call. (Because in fact I did make a lot of changes from her versions–but we always had to discuss them.) It’s been wonderful because in fact, we have a lot of respect for each other’s abilities and what they bring to the books. Mom’s initial plot choices established a depth for the books that I don’t think I could have brought to them on my own at my age, and she’s always respected my instincts for writing and my intuition about the characters. The characters we work with, and the true story they spring from, have become something we both care deeply about, so it’s a real joy to talk about them together. And of course it’s pretty fun to “talk shop” with your own mom.

2. You’ve written about an aspect of WWII history that’s almost unknown in the U.S.–the internment camps set up in France to imprison foreign Jews, and the brave people who worked to get children released from them. What made you want to write about this particular story from history?

Lydia says: When I was researching the events of World War II in France, I came across a book about the aid workers (almost all young women) who rescued Jewish children from the camps, and later, took them out of other dangerous situations to places where they could be safely hidden. I was so impressed by the courage and devotion of these young women, that I wanted their story to be told, alongside the story of the town of Le Chambon, which had first inspired me to begin this series. That was my inspiration for inventing the person of Paquerette, who embodies something of the experience of many of these aid workers.

Heather says: It was Mom that really picked what to write about, but once I learned the whole story from her I was fascinated by it. It’s particularly interesting to me because it’s about these women, like Paquerette, who are doing this very heroic thing but the day-to-day actual work of it is largely childcare–as opposed to the usual strong & heroic girl character in fiction who’s not considered impressive enough unless she fights. I liked the chance that gave me to explore the question: what does heroism really mean? When we desire to be heroes we’re usually wishing to be seen as heroes, but what if real heroism is obscure? What if it’s tedious and grueling and secret and no-one finds out? What if it involves changing diapers and comforting kids screaming in the night from nightmares and it doesn’t look impressive to the outside observer at all? And what does strength mean? I believe in women being strong, but pop culture gives us this awfully one-note narrative of what that means: you’ve got to kick some butt. Part of why I loved this story is that it gave me the chance to explore other kinds of strength and to celebrate women who are strong in ways that aren’t real obvious to the eye. Who cares what looks impressive on a screen? God sees reality.

3. Are you planning another book, and will it be in the same series or something different?

We’re planning a third book in the series, because Defy the Night doesn’t take us to the end of the war. It ends in 1942 and in the true story of Le Chambon–and of the war in general–that is actually when the truly dramatic things start happening. This one is still totally in the research stage–you can read my comments on the really interesting history I’ve been reading if you go to our writer page on Facebook but the general idea is that it will have more action and probably both Julien and Magali will be main characters. They’ve had their coming-of-age and they’re ready to truly plunge into the work.

We won’t be co-authoring this one, since Mom does not have a plot for it and (though I don’t have one yet either!) I feel ready to work on my own. But we plan to still consult pretty closely about it, because Mom’s still the expert on the history–and because we love talking about these books!


Thank you, Heather and Lydia, for sharing more with your readers! :)


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