Book Review for “A Stolen Heart” by Amanda Cabot

A Stolen Heart (Cimarron Creek Trilogy #1)A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amanda Cabot tells a nice, gentle story with well-developed characters and an interesting plot in this clean fiction book, “A Stolen Heart.”

Lydia Crawford arrives in Cimarron Creek looking for the man she plans to marry. The townspeople are slow to accept her because of their own prejudices against northerners. The town matriarch, whom everyone refers to as Aunt Bertha, gives Lydia a place to stay. Lydia and the local sheriff, Travis Whitfield, develop a relationship as they work together to solve the mystery behind crimes that have been committed in Cimarron Creek.

I enjoyed reading about Lydia’s new business, Cimarron Sweets. The candy shop gives Lydia an income of her own while offering her a place of respect in the community. I wish I could visit Cimarron Sweets and sit at the cute table in the window while eating Lydia’s wonderful fudge.

Amanda writes my kind of stories. I’m already looking forward to the second book in the series, “Borrowed Dreams.”

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Our Daily Bread

breadYour father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

When I think of this phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, I think of children asking for food. We get hungry so we need to eat. Like children look to Mom or Dad to feed them, we look to our father in heaven to provide food for us. But this is only one of the ways God provides for us. In addition to our physical bodies, our souls need nourished too. Jesus knows that if our souls don’t get fed regularly they will die just like a body will eventually quit working and waste away if not fed with the proper food.

Our souls don’t need meat or vegetables to survive. They need a very different kind of food. Nutrients like grace, love, healing, salvation, and redemption is what gives life to our hungry souls. In John 6, Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life. In verses 33 and 35, he says, “The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

In this prayer, when we ask God to please give us this day our daily bread, we’re really asking God to sustain both our bodies and our spirits. When we pray and spend time with Jesus each day, we will have all we need to stay satisfied and to sustain our lives. There is one more way Jesus instructs us to pray by giving us this phrase about daily bread. This is through intercession, which means praying for others. Once we experience God’s care for us, we should ask God to also care for the hungry. These people may be physically hungry because they lives in places without enough food. They might also be spiritually hungry because the gospel still needs to reach them. Our prayers should be for God to satisfy them with all the benefits of the kingdom of heaven.

The Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5 tells about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom brings comfort, mercy, righteousness, peace, and the promise of seeing God. Another phrase of the Lord’s Prayer asks for God’s kingdom to come to earth. This is what we are praying for when we ask God to care for the spiritually hungry. Sins are forgiven. Disease is healed. Evil is routed. God’s supreme and holy power reigns. In God’s kingdom, the cry for daily bread becomes a proclamation that a banquet feast is taking place around God’s throne and all are welcome.

Book Review for Under This Same Sky

Under This Same SkyUnder This Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this historical fiction romance, Cynthia Roemer tells a gentle and uplifting story set in Illinois in the 1850’s. The heroine, Becky Hollister, is dealing with a tragedy that has just happened to her family when the story’s hero, Matthew Brody, comes to Becky’s aid.

Throughout the course of the book, both characters embark on a journey that changes them. Matthew settles into a pastorate and forges his identity as a minister of the word. Becky spends time at a school for the blind where she discovers a new sense of purpose.

The themes of this book center around deepening and strengthening faith as challenges are met and overcome.

Cynthia understands the care required for someone with a physical disability. This theme is brought out when Becky travels to St. Louis to work in a school for the blind.

I enjoyed Cynthia’s book very much. I’m glad to discover authors who write a compelling story while staying true to high moral standards and wholesome relationships. I will definitely be reading more of Cynthia’s books.

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Book Review for Hearts Entwined

cv-entwined[1]The novella, Hearts Entwined, is a collection of four stories by talented authors Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears. All of the stories have in common layers of relationships that lead to an entanglement.

In The Love Knot, Claire receives a gift that came from her sister and is delivered by a man she still loves.

In The Tangled Ties that Bind, Connor and Maggie grew up on the same ranch and then he follows her to the town where she will study to be a doctor.

In Bound and Determined, cavalryman Bradley Willis is under the authority of a brother-in-law.

In Tied and True, Calvin’s boss is expected to marry the woman he loves, Marianne.

The themes in each of these stories is reinforced with a clever metaphor.

In The Love Knot, Claire works on needlepoint which she gives away later.

In The Tangled Ties that Bind, both characters assist in a doctor’s office where bandages were used on accident victims.

In Bound and Determined, Ambrosia and Bradley are both tied to a job they can’t get out of. During one scene in the story, Ambrosia tosses Bradley a rope tied to her saddle to help him escape quicksand. Later during their journey across the prairie, Bradley tends her sunburn with the bandana he wore tied around his neck.

In Tied and True, Marianne takes a job in a mill weaving cotton into fabric. She saves remnants of cotton and ties them onto the fence at Calvin’s house as a reminder of her feelings for him. Calvin uses these cotton strands later to make something special for Marianne.

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction Bethany House publishes. Each of these ladies do a wonderful job writing stories with depth, inspirational meaning, and just the right touch of humor.

Your Kingdom Come

dreamstime_s_39656697Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

The Lord’s Prayer is part of a larger teaching Jesus gave called the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus described the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t have borders, flags, or castles like earthly kingdoms. Instead, the kingdom of heaven is found in people’s hearts. God is the King. His home in heaven is the “castle” from where he ruled.

Jesus also described in the Sermon on the Mount who the citizens of God’s kingdom are. They aren’t the wealthy, the powerful, or the experts. Rather, these citizens are the poor in spirit, the defeated, the weak, the mistreated who long for mercy, and the people who work for peace.

These are the ones in need of someone who has all the power, all the riches, and all the answers. That person is Jesus, God’s Son who has come to earth. This is the first step God took in bringing his kingdom to earth. The second way is through his children. Because of our relationship with Jesus, we have the power through prayer to advance his kingdom. Any time we ask for God’s healing, his justice, or his presence in our lives or in the lives of others, we have played a role in bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

God’s kingdom and his will both work for the redemption of his people and his creation. Healing is part of God’s will. Justice is part of his will. Saving people and forgiving them of sin is in his will. When we ask for these things and cooperate with God to bring them about, we are doing God’s will. This phrase of the prayer contains strong words. God’s kingdom is perfect and it will last forever. We are invited to participate in the actions that help it come to earth. When we accept, we enjoy the satisfaction of living according to God’s plans and we see the changes that happen because God’s kingdom is coming.

The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma

Travel back in time to 1943 and meet Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian and concert violinist whose career is ended because of Nazi occupation in Prague. Don’t miss the new historical novel, The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma. Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Officer Horst Engel, quartered in Anna’s flat and dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz’s prize pack giveaway!

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Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz’s Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word-tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Book Review for The Melody of the Soul

The-Melody-of-the-Soul-002Liz Tolsma’s newest book The Melody of the Soul, takes place during World War II in Prague, the capitol city of Czechoslovakia, at the onset of Nazi occupation. The book opens with the heroine, whose name is Anna Zadok, saying good-bye to her family. They received deportation papers, but Anna and her grandmother did not, so the two women stay behind in the family’s apartment. It is Anna’s job to protect her ailing grandmother, so she must rely on smuggled food rations while living in daily fear of the soldiers that dominate the streets of Prague.

A German officer by the name of Horst Engel moves into the same building. He develops a growing sympathy for Anna and her situation because he hears her play the violin. The music stirs memories for him of his own mother. They attended symphony concerts together when Horst was a child. Now he is in the military serving the Nazi cause at his father’s insistence and questioning if this is the best place for him.

Anna’s love for music and her accomplished skill on the violin sustains her through the dark days of grief after finding out what happened to her family. The music also brings her and Horst together by soothing them and helping them make painful decisions. The title for this book, The Melody of the Soul, is symbolic for the deep faith that operates in a person’s life in the same way the music did in the lives of Anna and Horst.

A poignant scene is included in the book about a group of men who are musicians that play stringed instruments. They put together an ensemble and play music even while imprisoned. This scene further illustrates the symbolism between music and faith that runs throughout this novel.

As a musician myself, I appreciated the references to the song titles and descriptions of the emotions the music produced. Liz’s style is engaging and easy to read. The pacing is swift because of the high action and tension that drives the story. There is also a note of comfort that accompanies the theme of faith found in the words of the grandmother when she is reminding Anna that God will provide for them. And he does.

Liz does a nice job showing that through the risks taken and the dangers averted, God’s protection over Anna and her grandmother never ceases.

I experienced this book as hopeful yet horrifying. Comforting, yet haunting. I grieved the injustices of war while looking into my own heart for the courage of Horst Engel to make a difference, even in the life of one person.

I received this book as a complimentary copy for the purposes of reviewing.