What I’m reading: To Best The Boys by Mary Weber

This is not your grandmother’s kind of girl power.

 

To Best the Boys is one of those books that young girls, and young teen girls need today! It’s not some ridiculous novel that keeps shouting “girl power” at you. It’s the kind of story that SHOWS you girl power… and still shows human weakness and imperfection.

Mary mentioned on social media the other day that she struggled with this novel more than a little bit. I tend to think that is part of what makes this such a compelling read. That struggle is embedded in every word on the page, shining through the characters’ words and actions!

There’s also adventure, and danger, and MAGIC!

Don’t miss it!

 

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University.

Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Jesus Calling for Teens: 50 Devos for a Busy Day

 

 

Before you charge into the busy day, take a few minutes to equip yourself. Jesus Calling(R) 50 Devotions for Busy Days brings the warmth and insight that more than 25 million people enjoyed through Jesus Calling(R) and curates these devotions specifically to prepare you to handle busy days by setting aside your worries and enjoying God’s peace.

Jesus Calling(R) 50 Devotions for Busy Days features 50 topical readings from Jesus Calling(R) combined with relevant Scripture verses on the topics of peace, calm, and perspective.

This book is part of a three-book series for teens, each focusing on a felt need. The other two books in the series focus on themes of thankfulness and growing in faith. These books are great for an individual study and make a great set for gift giving.

Readers around the world already love how Sarah’s words help them connect with Jesus. Now the new Jesus Calling(R) topical devotionals offer a way to focus even more deeply on the major felt needs in your life . . . and the lives of your friends, family, church, school, and friends.

 

Another wonderful book of devotions for teens!

The devotions in this book are especially great in this crazy, busy world we live in now. It has the same breathtaking imagery, wonderful devotions, and exceptional verses.

Teens need the reminders from God’s word about how they need to find a balance in the day to day busy-ness of life!

Don’t miss this devotional either! Get one for yourself… and your teen… or better yet, get one and share it with your teen!

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Jesus Calling for Teens: 50 Devos for a Thankful Heart

 

 

A thankful heart opens the door to a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Jesus Calling(R) 50 Devotions for a Thankful Heart brings the warmth and insight that more than 25 million people have enjoyed through Jesus Calling(R) in devotions curated specifically to help you see the blessings God has poured out on your life and help you develop a heart of gratitude.

Jesus Calling(R) 50 Devotions for a Thankful Heart features 50 readings from Jesus Calling(R) gathered together in a new way and combined with relevant Scripture verses on the topic of thankfulness.

This book is part of a three-book series for teens, each focusing on a felt need. The other two books in the series focus on themes of growing your faith and dealing with busy days. These books are great for an individual study and make a great set for gift giving.

Readers around the world already love how Sarah’s words connect with Jesus. Now the new Jesus Calling(R) topical devotionals offer a way to focus even more deeply on the major felt needs in your life . . . and the lives of your friends, family, church, school, and friends.

With a beautiful, classic cover and affordable price point, these topical devotionals are a natural addition to the Sarah Young brand–and the perfect way to pour into those you love.

 

This is a wonderful book of devotions for teens!

I highly recommend it for your teen, or for you! This book is filled with beautiful images, wonderful devotions, and exceptional verses.

Personally, I am not much a fan of any version other than the King James. However, in this instance the page of multiple versions keep the devotions interesting, current, and easy for teens to connect with.

Do not miss this devotional! Get one for yourself… or your teen… or better yet, get one and share it with your teen!

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Preparing Your Heart for Marriage by Gary L. Thomas

 

 

The wedding is planned, but are you spiritually prepared for your wedding day? Trusted relationship author Gary Thomas coaches engaged couples on how to grow closer to the Lord in the days leading up to the wedding as a means of preparing them for all the days after the wedding.

Engagement is bursting with promise, hope, joy, and anticipation of all kinds. It can also be one of the busiest times your life. For some, planning a wedding, with all the decisions involved, can feel less like the onset of marriage and more like a long to-do list. Amidst the busyness, this devotional is designed to help you think through the spiritual priorities and challenges that lie ahead in order to grow an outstanding marriage filled with love, grace, and God’s blessing.

This lovely book provides encouraging entries that will help you deal with common issues such as:

What real intimacy means
How to celebrate your differences
Remembering to laugh together
With a special section on the marriage vows and meditations for the bride and groom, Preparing Your Heart for Marriage will help you grow in your relationship as a couple as you become closer to God.

 

Pretty sure I am not the right person to read and review this book…

I mean, it reads well. The devotions are well written. And everything sounds good to me, but given my past… my life… my complete and utter lack of anything that could be remotely deemed success in the are of relationships or marriage, I’m thinking there are a lot of people who would be better equipped to review this book.

Nevertheless, I am… So, here goes.

I actually got the book for my daughter and son; who are both in their teen years. And, while it’s a bit above their heads for now, there is still valuable information to impart at the ages they’re at now.

Plus, I hope the advice within will be invaluable to them at some point. I pray and hope, and pray some more every day that neither of them will have the same sort of hopeless, horrible experiences that I have had in my own past relationships.

Where was this book when I was seventeen!?! Gah!

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Evermore by Sara Holland

You know that meme that says…

Or, in this case, hardback…

Yeah. Evermore is one of those stories.

I actually read a few other reviews for this book, and the ones that said it was not as good as the first, I wondered at.

And then I read it, and WOW! I do not get those reviews! Because I thought Evermore was every bit as good as Everless… maybe even better. It pulled me in, and every time I had to put the book down, it was all I could do not to snap at whomever was the reason for it that time. It was AMAZING! The ending was not at all predictable. The story was so intriguing, I found myself racing ahead, just to find out what was going to happen. I actually had to make myself go back and read what I had rushed through several times because I was so excited, I missed things.

It was just that GOOD!

 

The highly anticipated sequel to New York Times bestseller, Everless!

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Defiant Joy by Stasi Eldredge

TAKING HOLD OF HOPE, BEAUTY, AND LIFE IN A HURTING WORLD.

 

Bestselling author Stasi Eldredge shows readers how to choose a joy that stands against the tides of life’s real and often overwhelming pain.

We are called to live. And, miraculously, to live with joy.

We all spend a lot of energy reaching for happiness, but we are never quite able to hang on to it. Real life happens, and our circumstances take us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. So the Bible’s call to “be joyful always” sounds almost crazy—and out of reach. But it doesn’t have to be.

Joy is meant to be ours, a joy that is defiant in the face of this broken world. This joy is not simply happiness on steroids; it’s the unyielding belief that sorrow and loss do not have the final say. It’s the stubborn determination to be present to whatever may come and to interpret both goodness and grief by the light of heaven.

In Defiant Joy, Stasi Eldredge invites us with courage, candor, and tender vulnerability to a place beyond sadness or happiness. She shows us how to maintain a posture of holy defiance that neither denies nor diminishes our pain but dares to live with expectant, unwavering hope.

We are called to live.

And, miraculously, to live with joy.

Those are words written with the intention of changing lives!

 

Why defiant joy? Why not… simply joy?
… In this world where we find ourselves living, having joy often feels both crazy and out of reach.”

Those words say it all. This world is not one where any of us can find joy without being defiant… without “standing against the tide, going against the flow…” without making the tough decision to grab hold of joy and refuse to let go.

This is a book that everyone needs in this hopeless, miserable world we exist in, this world where joy is quickly sought out and squashed by the enemy on a daily basis.

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Everless by Sara Holland

I can see this is going to be a year of stunning reads!

Have you ever been so enthralled with a story, so immersed, so desperate to get to the conclusion that is dangling oh so tantalizingly out of reach… that you actually miss part of the story and have to go back and re-read?

THAT is precisely how intense the pull was for this reader at multiple points of the story. I literally had to put the book down, remind myself to breathe, and then pick it up and read again the story I had just read.

Everless is one of those stories that will pull you in and refuse to let go. Long after you release the last page, the haunting story will hold you in its grip and you’ll have to remind yourself that it’s not real… that the words are just a fictional creation that was given birth by a mere mortal from this little blue world we inhabit.

Yes. It’s that GOOD! And how fortuitous that we do not have to wait for book 2. Evermore is already here, released into the world to wreak a similar havoc among readers such as me.

 

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m reading: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

WOW!

CJ Redwine was 100% spot on it when she said this book was “Brilliant, fascinating, and utterly impossible to put down.”  

I picked this book up at the library yesterday and only put it down early this morning, nearly breathless with the absolutely exceptional ending.

Whether you enjoy fairy-tale retellings or just refreshingly exciting fantasy, this is a book you should immerse yourself in immediately!

You won’t be sorry!

I picked it up at the library on the recommendation of a friend and now I will be buying not one, but two books, because I have to have both books in the series and I dearly hope Miss West will grace us with another!

Don’t miss the companion novella; Fields of Fire! That’s my next read. It will keep me enchanted until I get my hands on Realm of Ruins; book 2 in this incomparable new series!

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Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting.

An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors?

She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

 

 

Feature © JCMorrows 2019

What I’m Reading: Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas

 

 

The fascinating stories and origins behind Christmas traditions such as the colors of red and green, the Christmas tree, caroling, nativity scenes, the Yule log, gift-giving, stockings, advent wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.

The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas—gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more—infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas reveals the people, places, and events that shaped the best-loved customs of this merriest of holidays. Here are spiritual insights, true-life tales, and captivating legends to intrigue you and your family and bring new luster and depth to your celebration of Jesus’ birth. Discover how

• after eighteen centuries of all but ignoring the event, churches began to open the door for believers to commemorate Jesus’ incarnation.
• the evergreen tree, once a central theme in the worship practices of pagan cultures, came to represent the everlasting love of God.
• the magi’s three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—are filled with spiritual symbolism.

The traditions of Christmas lend beauty, awe, and hope to the holiday, causing people all over the world to anticipate it with joy. The stories in this book will warm your heart as you rediscover the true and eternal significance of Christmas.

Ace Collins not only writes wonderful fiction stories, he has put together a wonderful collection of stores about the wonderful traditions of our favorite time of the year!

This beautiful book is the perfect keepsake to bring out and read form every year with your family. It is also a perfect Christmas gift for friends or family… or even for a Christmas book exchange (wink… wink).

I can hardly wait to share this book with generations to come!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: The Case for Christ Daily Moment of Truth

 

 

Why do we believe what we believe? The Case for Christ Daily Moment of Truth, by leading apologists for Christianity Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg, offers fact-based, intelligent devotions to build a foundational faith. These 180 insightful writings will strengthen your spiritual knowledge and touch your heart with life-changing truth.

Each devotion is based on a scientific, historical, or biblical fact that will bolster your confidence in Christ. You will be inspired, encouraged, and equipped. A reflection at the end of each entry allows you to consider this new knowledge and how to put it into action.

In these thoughtful devotions Strobel and Mittelberg articulate the reasons why Christians believe what they believe. Combining the authors’ expertise in apologetics with scriptural application for daily living, this devotional will leave you deeply encouraged and well informed. Topics range from scientific discoveries to theological explanations, and each devotion is followed by a brief reflection, prayer, and thought to meditate on and talk about.

You’ll emerge with a deeper understanding of your beliefs. In the process, you’ll find your love of truth—and your passion to share it—growing each day.

 

This book was nothing like I expected… in the best possible way.

Watching the movie that is based on Lee Strobel’s miraculous discovery of faith gives you a very in-depth look at his journey, which was not entirely a good one.

Fortunately, this book was written after Lee found God’s love, so each page reflects that love… and truth.

It’s a wonderful read! And a wonderful gift!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: The Year of Happy Living

 

 

How would your life be different if you were just a bit happier every day for a year? What would you do to enjoy life just a little more day by day? Take your first step toward increased happiness with The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World by Alli Worthington.

You do your best to live life well—you work hard to be present in the moment, take care of the people in your life, knock it out of the park at work and home. And yet somehow, you still have days (perhaps more than you’d like to admit) where you’re simultaneously stressed and bored, and you wonder if you even know how to be happy. Is happiness a worthy goal? Does happiness matter to God, or does He only care about holier things?

Alli Worthington gets it. As a wife, mother of five boys, author, speaker, and entrepreneur, she knows a thing or two about being busy, stressed, and happy in the midst of a crazy world! Over the years, she’s seen how happiness gets a bad rap in Christian circles, and now she is standing up to shout the good news from the roof (or the internet, as the case may be): You are allowed to be happy! Yes, you! You can be happy right now!

Get rid of the common Christian misconception that happiness is somehow not holy, and grasp God’s intention for His children—that happiness and holiness can coexist for a beautiful life.

Join Alli for The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World and find the roots of your happiest life yet! With 100 inspirational devotions, beautiful art, and journaling pages throughout, this gorgeous devotional offers practical ways to make your life happier day by day.

Don’t miss the great big beautiful adventure God has for you right in your own life. Let this be The Year of Living Happy!

 

A Year of Thankfulness is something we can all use.

There is no way to ever truly thank our dear Lord enough for all that He has done for us, but it never hurts to try… and try… and try.

And thankfulness in every day life is an excellent place to start.

I highly recommend this book. It’s filled with interesting and beautiful advice for those of us who are thankful… and those of us who might need a little help remembering all the things we’re thankful for.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: 365 Devotions for a Thankful Heart

 

 

No matter how difficult life seems, you will find more joy when you choose gratitude. Boost your happiness and deepen your walk with God by becoming aware of all you have to appreciate. 365 Devotions for a Thankful Heart is a daily devotional that will inspire you to slow down, recognize God’s gifts, and be grateful for all His blessings.

Short daily readings will encourage you to open your heart with gratitude to all the ways God has blessed you. In 365 Devotions for a Thankful Heart, each entry starts with an inspiring Scripture and ends with a short prayer to help focus your heart on thankfulness as you go about your day. Each devotion is the perfect length to fit into even the busiest schedule, but substantial enough to start your day on just the right note.

The beautiful design of 365 Devotions for a Thankful Heart makes a stylish addition to your book collection, and you’ll love to have it on display as a reminder to be aware of the simple blessings in life.

 

Daily devotionals are a wonderful tool for Christians who are surrounded by the crazy, mixed-up, confusing world we live in.

Thankfulness is also a wonderful tool. Too many of us forget to be thankful for all that God has blessed us with (I am no exception) and that can make for a somewhat difficult life.

This devotional is a wonderful way to remind yourself day to day that we have a lot to be thankful for – and that being thankful helps us to enjoy our lives so much more!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Wake Me After the Apocalypse

 

 

When a killer comet hurtles for the earth, 18-year-old Joanna Murphy is selected to wait out the apocalypse in an underground bunker. She enters cryosleep with her close-knit team, preparing to resettle the planet after the atmosphere clears in two hundred years.

Joanna is the only one who wakes up.

Faced with a bunker full of bones and a blocked exit, Joanna must claw her way to the surface, figure out what happened to her team, and try not to panic—or die. That’s going to be tricky if she’s the only person left in the world.

 

Don’t be fooled by the short blurb for this book. There are no zombies waiting on the surface… no post-apocalyptic wasteland where Joanna will wander, slowly starving to death while parched with thirst… and no actual ghosts plaguing her waking hours.

The story starts off with intensity and confusion, threading in scenes from “BEFORE” as the story unfolds – to catch you up on what you’ve missed.

It doesn’t take long to discover that all was not right in BRP land before the candidates went under, which only adds to your intense desire to discover what really happened to all of the other cryo tanks, if any of the other bunkers survived, and what will become of Joanna by the end of the story.

Fair warning: there is strong language in this book and several mentions of sex (though it is not graphically described). Parents; you might want to read the book yourself before handing it over to your teen or pre-teen.

Personally, I think the story would have been much better without the language.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Boundaries for your soul

 

 

Do your emotions control you or do you control your emotions? Many people let guilt, anger, or self-criticism dominate their lives and negatively affect their relationships. Boundaries for Your Soul shows you how to calm the chaos within. This groundbreaking approach will help you know what to do when you feel overwhelmed, understand your guilt, anxiety, sadness, and fear, welcome God into the troubling parts of your soul and move from doubt and conflict to confidence and peace.

Boundaries for Your Soul includes relatable anecdotes, helpful exercises, an engaging quiz, and opportunities for personal reflection. Gathering the wisdom from the authors’ twenty-five years of combined advanced education, biblical studies, and clinical practice, this book will set you on a journey to become the loving, authentic, joyful person you were created to be.

 

An excellent resource for Christians in today’s confusing and crazed world. It’s difficult to live in this world and control your emotions – especially when no one around you seems to.

If you struggle with these issues, you should really give this book a try.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Unshakable Promise Book [Student edition] by Max Lucado

 

 

Get to know the God who keeps His promises. Unshakable Hope Promise Book, by bestselling author Max Lucado, explores the promises God made to His people throughout the Bible and how they are relevant to your life today. Get ready to discover the amazing plans and promises God has just for you!

What would you do tomorrow if you had no fear? How would you live your life if you knew that the promises in the Bible are for you? What if God Himself put promises there meant for you and has an amazing plan for your life?

In Unshakable Hope Promise Book: Student Edition, Max Lucado shows you how God has kept His promises in the lives of His people for all of history. Using examples from biblical characters and current examples from teens like you, Max will help you explore and understand the ways God has kept His promises then and how He keeps them now.

Embrace an exciting faith-filled life as you work through stories, Scripture, and journaling questions in Unshakable Hope Promise Book.

 

My sweet daughter LOVES this book!

I am thrilled to tell you that this book is perfect for students! They want something that is going to grab their interest, talk to them on their level, and look cool at the same time.

This book does all of that and more! It gives them a cool looking book that teaches them great things about the Promises of GOD!

And now I want one too!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Praying the Promises by Max and Andrea Lucado

 

 

Find security and hope in a broken world through the unshakable promises of God. Join bestselling author and beloved pastor Max Lucado as he leads you through 30 life-changing promises from God in Praying the Promises. You’ll experience a more intimate and effective prayer life and a deeper faith in the God who keeps every promise.

God makes His character clear throughout the Bible: He is a God who saves us, who is faithful, who sends His Comforter, and who has a good and holy purpose for our lives.

In short, He keeps His promises.

But what does that look like in a broken world? Surrounded by confusion, darkness, violence, and pain, where do we see the promises of God at work in our everyday lives?

Max Lucado invites you into a deeper understanding of the peace and security God offers His people in Praying the Promises, a beautiful book that tells stories of God’s faithfulness and offers tangible ways to implement faith into your own prayer life. Through 30 key Scripture verses, a look into the lives of biblical people of faith, reflections, and prayers, you will see a clearer picture of the promises of God and how He is the rock you can build your life upon.

Whether you are a lifelong believer or if faith is a brand-new adventure, Praying the Promises offers you access to the God who has kept His promises since the beginning of time and will continue to do so for eternity.

A great gift for all ages.

 

Max and Andrea Lucado have put together a wonderful book. I read quite a bit of it aloud to my family and I think they enjoyed it as much as I did.

We need the reminder of all the wonderful promises God has made and this book has given me an improved outlook that I desperately needed at this time in my life.

I cannot be the only one who feels as if the world around us is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on them. Holding onto God’s promises is a wonderful way to relieve some of that pressure.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: 100 Days of Thanks

 

 

Focus on the things that bring you joy with 100 Days of Thanks. Short inspirational readings, space to record your thoughts, and brief Scripture references in a high-designed four-color gift book will help you find a peaceful, happier life.

The rush of a busy schedule, a barrage of disheartening news stories, and the wear and tear of everyday life can be enough to drag anyone down. Simply pausing to recognize and express thanks for the good gifts that surround you has proven to make a major difference in happiness, peace, and contentment.

100 Days of Thanks, a beautifully designed inspirational book of short readings, Scripture verses, and journaling space is the perfect tool to promote Christian mindfulness and gratitude. Whether you are looking for a thoughtful gift to encourage a loved one or a simple tool to create a habit of thankfulness, this lovely little book is a wonderful place to start.

Take a few moments out of your day to be grateful and feel your burdens get a little lighter, starting today.

 

I’ve never been a fan of adult coloring books and I’ve been hesitant to embrace the Bible journaling trend, but looking through this book, I must admit there is merit to having a creative way to take notes while studying God’s word.

In this world of ours, where less and less people give thanks for the many blessings they have, it is wonderful to read through a book that focuses on that very thing.

I know I needed the reminder to be thankful.

I hope many others will take the reminder too.

And the images within the book are just as beautiful as the words of God that are sprinkled throughout. This book is exceptional.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Bloom Where You’re Planted by Mary Rodman

 

 

 

This daily devotional is about looking for God in our everyday lives. God gives us lessons in life to grow a stronger faith, but we need to watch for the blessings along our path. From the struggles of farm life, to the splendors of vacations. From the heartache of losing a loved one, to the joys of grand-parenting. From every day cleaning, to the blessings of unexpected precious moments. God is present in all that we do, if we simply slow down and look for the abundant life He offers. These devotions teach us that every lesson in life is from God as He molds us, shapes us, and helps us grow. All He asks in return is that you “Bloom Where You’re Planted” and serve Him.

 

For someone who much prefers paper or hardbound books, I feel it shows just how wonderful this book is, that I was able to enjoy it as an eBook.

And, while I personally much prefer KJV Bible verses, I like the versions the author used, and the way she mixed them up in the text. The chosen verses work very well in each usage.

All in all, an exceptional devotional. I would definitely recommend it to anyone with a love of flowers or just an interest in blooming as a follower of Christ.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: God’s Blessing Day by Day: a Daily Devotional for Kids

 

 

God’s Blessing Day by Day is a trustworthy devotional compiled by renowned pastors and church leaders. Edited by Johnny Hunt, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, this devotional is the perfect way to introduce your children and grandchildren to a legacy of faith.

One of the greatest gifts – and greatest challenges – of raising children is introducing them to the ways of God. As parents and grandparents, we want to impart our faith to the children we love so dearly, and it can feel more difficult than ever in the fast-moving, instant-access culture in which we find ourselves.

God’s Blessing Day by Day,compiled by Johnny Hunt and more than 50 pastors and church leaders, is the perfect way to build faith through gratitude.

This easy-to-understand, child-friendly devotional is the perfect way to engage your family. Each devotion is written on topics children care about and includes great prayers and takeaways that will spark conversation as the timeless Word of God instructs and inspires your children.

Impart a deeper connection with the Lord in your children, help them establish healthy habits of devotion and prayer, and equip them with the tools they need to grow their faith.

 

This book is an absolute GEM!

The devotionals are written in such a way that very young children could easily understand the message within, but not so childishly that  an older child would not enjoy it. For example, my 12 years old daughter loves it.

Even though we just received it, she has already read several days worth to “catch up” on the week and I read through it as well (though it wasn’t easy to get her to part with it long enough for me to do so)

I highly recommend this devotional. It’s well-written, interesting, beautiful and compact enough that children will have no trouble carrying it with them.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Belle by Cameron Dokey

 

 

The story of Beauty and the Beast finds new life in this magical and imaginative retelling that’s filled with romance and adventure.

By the time her sixteenth birthday comes around, Belle feels more convinced than ever that she is being called by the wrong name. Unlike her older sisters Celeste and April, whose names suit them perfectly, Belle knows that she is not beautiful. She begs to be called by her given name, Annabelle—or even Anna for short—but to no avail. Her solace is her wood-carving hobby, and she longs to find the Heartwood tree: Legend has it that, when carved by the right hands, it can reveal the face of one’s true love.

One day, during a fierce storm, Belle’s father stumbles upon the fabled tree—only to become ensnarled by it and come face-to-face with a terrifying and lonely Beast, who will set him free on one condition: that Belle carves the Heartwood. Belle agrees, never dreaming that she and the Beast have the same wish: to be seen not with the eyes of the mind, but of the heart.

 

There is nothing I like more than an intriguing fairy tale retelling that is fresh and original… even though the story holds more similarities to the original story than the most frequently told story these days.

One of the best parts about a retelling is how much more involved you get with the main characters. In the original fairy tales, the story focused on the middle and the end. With a retelling, you can explore the beginning.

Belle does that and it’s wonderful. We have a chance to become very attached to Belle and her family, get a look into who she really is and what makes her tick. It makes the middle of the story that much more exciting and intense.

I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the books in this series, and I’m glad to discover that I’ve not started in the middle since most of the books seem to be stand-alones.

If you haven’t read them, you should check them out HERE.

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Am I Enough by Grace Valentine

 

Have you had enough?

Young women today are constantly told they are not enough for this world—not pretty enough, not smart enough, not exciting enough, not spiritual enough, and just plain not good enough. The barrage is constant. The consequences are real. The damage often feels permanent.

As a young woman herself, Grace Valentine has felt the pressure of trying to survive in a toxic culture, let alone thrive. But she’s had enough. With an engaging combination of honesty and humor, Grace uses her story to confront the lies the world tells us every day—lies such as:

You are beautiful because a guy told you so,
Love must be earned,
You should forget your past,
You will never be enough, and more.

Am I Enough? is a line in the sand. It’s a declaration that we will never be enough for this world because we were not created for this world. Instead, Grace reminds us that we were created by Someone better for something better. We can choose the One who has chosen us—the One who says: “You are enough for Me, My child. Come as you are.”

 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about this book, is that it could have been so much more.

The author had an opportunity to present positive ideas and affirmation and yet, the majority of the book reads as judgement.

Don’t get me wrong… The writing is humorous. The stories are well told. But the underlying message is judgment, not affirmation.

In 221 pages, the author had ample opportunities to tell the reader that it does not matter whether the world thinks they’re beautiful or not, they are beautiful because God made them in his image.

But she didn’t.

Instead she spent the 221 pages, in the guise of helpful advice, telling young girls that they are not as good a Christian as they should be if they focus too much on their looks or on their abilities.

I do not get the feeling that message was the author’s intention. I feel as if the true message was perhaps lost in translation. Perhaps the author conveyed this message better on her blog. I suppose I’ll have to read it to see.

As for the book, I don’t plan to pass it on to anyone, but you never know… I might run across someone who needs it…

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: The Orphan’s Wish by Melanie Dickerson

Hagenheim novel #8! Who else is excited!


From the streets to an orphanage in a faraway kingdom, Aladdin has grown up alone. Until he meets Kirstyn.

With a father who is the duke of Hagenheim and a mother who is the patroness of the orphanage where Aladdin lives, Kirstyn is a member of the most powerful family in the land . . . and way out of his league. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion for taking walks in the forest, and their childhood friendship grows along with them.

Through his scrappy skills, intelligence, and hard work, Aladdin earns a position serving in the duke’s house. But he knows it isn’t enough to grant him his one desire: Kirstyn’s hand in marriage. If he hopes to change his station in life and feel worthy of marrying Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim to seek his fortune.

But once Aladdin leaves, no one is around to protect Kirstyn, and the greedy men desperate to take advantage of her father’s wealth take notice. Now, more than Aladdin’s background stands in the way of the future he’s worked so hard to obtain. His only hope is to rescue Kirstyn and somehow manage to win her hand as well.

 

I fell in love with Melanie’s books years ago in an intriguing twist of fate that can only be described as a situation where truth is stranger than fiction.

This is just a mother in a long Line of amazing fairy tales written without magic or any actual fairies.

REAL people live out AMAZING adventures in these true-to-life Historical Happily Ever Afters!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Book 1 of the Waterfire Saga! YAY!


Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation – and burden – that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk.

On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother’s hopes.

The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin’s arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina’s darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world’s very existence.

 

Walking around Book Market a few weeks ago at my mother’s book signing led to [as usual] book buying! By the way, I’ll be at the Book Market for a Book Signing of my own on July 21st!

And I’ll likely find more books then to buy! No big surprise there! Me walking into a book store nearly always leads to me leaving with a stack/bag/arm/box-full of new books to stack. . . and read. . . and photograph. . . and then find a place for on one of the many shelves and bookcases in our home.

At any rate. . .

This series caught my eye because it had a Mermaid on the cover!

So, of course, it caught my attention and my daughter Macy‘s too!

Then we discovered that it was a 4-book series! WHAT!

Well, obviously we had to have all of them! Book Market had book 1 and book 3, but not 2 or 4. TRAGEDY! And thus began a three store journey to find ALL of the books! Spoiler alert: we found them all! YAY US!

Now to read them all! YES! the fun begins!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

A new and exciting novel from Nadine Brandes


Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

 

I am sad to say, I didn’t even hear the door when the UPS man arrived yesterday, but I am sure everyone in the house heard my shriek of excitement when I opened the box and found this book that I have been waiting for – for what feels like FOREVER!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s FINALLY HERE! And it’s SOOOOO pretty!

Seriously, the cover image above does NOT even begin to do justice to the breathtaking cover!

And THIS is why some of my books are steme-themed. I LOVE the historical aspects; balls and intrigue, fancy clothes and cool masks. Awesome to find other authors who enjoy the same elements I do in Fantasy fiction!

An exciting premise! A daring adventure! An intriguing story!

If you enjoy Nadine Brandes’ books, don’t miss this one!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018

What I’m Reading: The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy has such a way with cowboy fiction! She is one of two authors who I read. . . and enjoy. . . every book!


She’s the only witness to a wagon train attack. Keeping her safe, though, means his world is about to be turned upside down.

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes an attack by the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he’s finally carved out a home and started a herd–while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail. He’d hoped the days of driving off dangerous men were over, but the latest attack shows otherwise.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace becomes an accidental guardian when he offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until they can safely continue their journey. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling–yet enticing.

Trace and Deborah find themselves drawing ever closer as they work together to bring justice to the trail and help the group survive the winter–but every day closer to spring means a day closer to leaving the mountains forever.

 

This book unwittingly reminds me of one of my first favorite books; a book my mother read to us as children and one I have read many times as a teen, and later as an adult – so, of course, The Accidental Guardian will likely also hold a special place in my heart for years to come.

Mary has a talent for pulling her readers into the character’s skin, making you feel what they are feeling; both good and bad, which always makes for a story that is nearly impossible to put down!

I am already looking forward to book 2 in this series!

 

Review ©JCMorrows 2018