Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review of A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

A Love Like Ours is book #3 in the Porter Family Series. It is also the fourth book of Becky Wade's I've read. (That's all she's written :))

One of the things I love best about Becky Wade's books is the honest way she writes. Numerous times I caught myself blushing and thinking - I can't believe she said that! This one is no exception!

Publisher's Blurb:
Cover ArtFormer Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?
There is so much to say about this lovely book. In my mind it reaches out to so many different reader-types. But before we dig too deep I have to say I love the cover! And then I read the Prologue and loved it!! Favorite line that only makes full sense in context of the entire story : "That was his job, to keep her safe. And that's what he would do. She was his favorite person."

Now ... let's get to the (really) good stuff.

First of all it is a story of love, hope and redemption. Jake Porter is one wounded guy! And he has pretty much committed his life to staying away from people, happiness and God. Horses he can deal with. Everything else- including his loving family- should be treated with much caution. I have to admit I am a sucker for a wounded soul. Especially when that wounded soul is on God's radar and He isn't backing down. This part of the plot was fantastic. Wade delves deep into the issue of PTSD and what war has done to so many fine young men. At one point in the story, the heroine's mother, a counsellor, tells Lyndie that Jake's condition isn't curable. But that doesn't stop God (and Becky Wade) from infusing hope into every crevice possible. Loved it!

Next, this story is a romance.  Whoa! Cover your eyes ... or ears ... or don't. But be prepared for some spice. I can remember being a tad shocked reading Wade's first book My Stubborn Heart when the main characters started commenting on her "boobs". Can you say that in Christian Fiction? Yet in context of the story it felt real and very life-like. So I moved on.

Now, after several more Wade stories under my belt I still love the authenticity and realness she gives her stories and characters. But I was also caught off guard with her latest shocker. "Bedroom eyes" Will. A secondary character who I'm hoping will be the main character in the future. As you can tell by now, I read almost exclusively Christian Fiction. (Otherwise those words wouldn't snag me.) So, this is my one warning to potential readers. There is no explicit information in this book, nor did I find it uncomfortable or inappropriate. However, if there is a line in the sand for you on what you want (or don't want) in your fiction, be aware. Becky Wade is wonderful at bringing to life a fact of romantic life that sometimes is overlooked in Christian fiction. Passion and attraction are real and there is a way to write it with modesty and truth. (And spice!) Fans of Julie Lessman will know what I mean here. If there was an award for kissing scenes - I'd give it to Becky Wade ... or Jake Porter ("Tall, Dark and Brooding"), however you want to see that one. Phew! Moving on ...

Next this story tackles the issue of disabilities and gifts. There is a sweet sub-plot moving throughout the story that adds such depth and character to the main story line. And I love how Wade made this thread work on both sides of the characters and mirror the main plot. Fantastic!

First we have Mollie, Lyndie's younger sister who is non-verbal and blind suffering with cerebral palsy. But Lyndie believes God gave her sister the power to heal others. Then we also have the horse, Silver Leaf, a horse with potential that only a few can see. This raises the complex topic of God's grace and His healing hand. Why would God not heal Mollie, but use her to heal others? And why would a horse that can't or won't win any horse races be useful to anyone? And why would God take a broken, wounded man and bless him with an optimistic, life-breathing woman that won't give up?

There are so many more aspects to this book but I realized how long this blog post has gotten already.

Bottom line: this is an interesting, thought-provoking, heart-stirring and blood-pumping good novel. Go get yourself a copy. If you're not sure yet, Becky Wade has provided a free excerpt on her website. And on YouTube Becky Wade talks about her book and giving some background to the writing process.

And just for fun - a perfect fit for the soundtrack: Sticking with You by Addison Road. Check it out.

Be sure to check out the other books in this series, Undeniably Yours and Meant to be Mine.

Thanks to Bethany House and Baker Publishing for a chance to review this book. I received a free copy in exchange for my opinion. I am not required to rate it positively.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Review of From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover

I remember so clearly the early days of each of my babies. 
Baby #1. I had high hopes. Not just for them but more so for me. I'm gonna be a good mom and do all the things good moms do. I had a list.

Then came baby number two and dressed in tears I spoke a new promise ... "I'm gonna do better this time. I'm gonna try to get it right with this baby."

Then came baby number three. The words were there, underneath a suffocating cloak of shame. I was too burdened to speak them out loud because I had failed. Not once but twice. Dare I try again?

Cover ArtWow! If only I knew better back then what God is teaching me now. He never wanted good. He wanted surrendered. He wanted me ... covered in His grace. He doesn't want me to try so much and so hard. 

Christine Hoover's new book From Good to Grace is an exceptional book on exactly that. God never asked for us to be good enough. We can't. We won't ever be. And wishing for it only destroys His true purpose for us. He only wants us ... dripping in His grace.

Do you struggle with wanting to do better? Wishing for more energy so you could accomplish more? Praying for a second chance so this time you could get it right?

Stop right there.

You are living in what Christine describes as the "Goodness Gospel". That was never where God wanted you to be. Striving for that Gold Star or that pat on the back. That sweet "You did great" smile. Do enough. Be enough. 


That is not the gospel of our Lord and Savior. Christine reminds us, "we aren't enough, but God has made us enough by his grace." 

In a wonderfully enchanting manner, Christine uses examples from her own life as a mother, pastor's wife and child of God to impart to us the importance of recognizing the false gospel in our lives. She dives into scripture with the reader to point out the areas that we "try" when we should just lean in instead.

 Publisher's blurb:
God is calling you to something greater than good.
So many of us feel as if we do not do enough and, in fact, are not enough. We try hard to be good--a good friend, mom, wife, Christian, employee, or ministry leader--hoping for that "atta-girl" from God, some heavenly assertion that we matter. In the process, we find ourselves living by a lesser gospel: the gospel of goodness. It's a gospel without grace, and in the end, it's good for nothing.

With compelling illustrations from her own life and from Scripture, Christine Hoover helps you start asking, "What does God want for me?" before asking, "What does God want from me?" You'll find yourself breathing a sigh of relief at this powerful message of freedom and hope. Rather than serving God out of obligation or duty, you'll be compelled to love and serve God with great joy.

 A definite keeper. I recommend this book for any women, young or old, as an individual or a group study (discussion guide included). Even if you don't see yourself in the description of the book, you probably know a woman who does.

Christine Hoover authors a fantastic blog, Grace Covers Me. Check her out there. Also you can find an excerpt of the book on Baker Publishing website. Or visit your favorite Christian bookseller and get your own copy.

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review of From The Start by Melissa Tagg

Want a fantastic book by a fantastic author? Check out Melissa Tagg and From The Start. The story is fun, powerful and extremely delightful.

Publisher's blurb:
FromTheStart_300rgbKate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. 

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?

This book was a true delight to read. The characters are deep and real, making the story easy to settle into. Both hero and heroine are stuck - their past and their future. They both had dreams that seemed to be falling apart around them. Then they are drawn to the heroine's hometown to help it recover from a tornado. 

A perfect setting to match the turmoil they each feel inside. 

They begin to work side by side to rejuvenate this little town and its citizens. Both characters are clinging to a thread of a new future plan, a sliver of hope. Then the town barely recovered from the tornado, faces a new threat of a flood. Sometimes starting over means all that we have now needs to be washed away. And that includes all the future plans of our characters too.

I loved this story. It is an "against-all-odds" kind of plot. It was so easy to cheer for the two main characters. They changed and they grew in their faith and in their trust. And then of course they grew in their feelings for each other. Amazing story!

I have nothing negative to add to this review. The book as an outstanding 5 out of 5!

And just because Melissa loves to offer fantastic stories, you can check out an e-novella available that extends the story line of two characters in From the Start. It's titled Three Little Words.

Sounds like this is only the beginning for Kate and Colton and the little hamlet of Maple Valley, Iowa. Stay tuned for more to come!

Thanks to Bethany House and the author for a chance to review this book. I was provided a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to review it positively.