The First Christmas: A Story of New Beginnings by Stephen Mitchell

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Essentials

Date of Publication: November 9th, 2021

Genre: Christian, Religion

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all, the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and thrilling interludes about God, reality, truth.” -Anne Lamott

In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.

In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds, and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 bce might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.

Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale.

First Line:

It was snowing again as they arrived, the man and the girl. They had been on the road for six days, traveling fifteen miles a day except when she felt too unwell to continue.

the first christmas: a story of new beginning by stephen mitchell

When I agreed to read and review The First Christmas, I didn’t know what exactly I decided to review. I thought I would read a book about The First Christmas from the blurb that the author told from the POV of an ox and donkey. Then I reread the blurb and saw that the author would tell it from the ox and donkey and Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men. At that point, I had already downloaded it from NetGalley, so that I couldn’t change my mind.

I did think that The First Christmas was an imaginative retelling of Christ’s birth. But, honestly, I could have done without the interludes in between each chapter. Not that they added insight (because they did), but I thought it dragged the book in parts. I didn’t care about the historical information behind each chapter. I also didn’t care about the “what ifs.” As I mentioned, I thought it made the book drag in places.

My favorite chapters were the ones with the Ox and the Donkey. They were two different animals with different views on the stable and the visitors. Those two chapters made me smile because animals are so innocent and pure. I liked the donkey’s history behind seeing angels. I did get a little laugh out of that.

The author did an excellent job of bringing this book to life. Each character had an individual voice and personality.

The First Christmas is not a book that I would usually read, and I probably will not read again. But, saying that, it was an interesting read, and I did enjoy reading it.

I would recommend The First Christmas to anyone over the age of 13. It is a clean book (no sex or swearing).

The Shadowverse by John-Clement Gallo

The Shadowverse: A YA Sci-Fi Superhero Adventure by [Gallo, John-Clement, Gallo, Francesca]

4 Stars


Date of publication: November 20th, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy, Christian

Where you can find The Shadowverse: Amazon | BookBub

Book synopsis:

Regarded as “captivating” and “one-of-a-kind,” The Shadowverse is a Science-Fiction Superhero thriller with hints of the Young Adult genre. It is a story of destiny—that no matter who you are, where you are, or what your past is like, you can always achieve greatness. 

Johnny Sparks longs for a greater purpose. After an encounter with a mysterious stranger, he and his friends are imbued with incredible powers—at last giving his life meaning. 

But this dream soon disintegrates once one of the friends is taken by an alien warlord named Titan. In a rescue effort, the remaining group is sent across the galaxy in search of the only possible aid—an ancient, immortal warrior missing for centuries. 

To succeed, the team must join forces to reclaim their friend and stop a sinister scheme devised against humanity by Titan and his empire. The conflict for the soul of the universe is set in motion, but even if the group prevails, they risk losing what it means to be human.

First Line:

There was only darkness.

The Shadowverse by John-Clement Gallo

My Review

While I like science fiction, I have been moving away reading it. They all seemed to follow the same plotline, and I was getting bored reading them. So, when the author of The Shadowverse approached me to review his book, I almost didn’t accept it. But there was something about the blurb that made me think twice. I am glad that I did because this was a fantastic read!!

The Shadowverse was an interesting combination of science fiction, fantasy, and Christian literature. I have read this combination before, and it fell flat. But not The Shadowverse. The author was able to meld all three genres’ together wonderfully. I loved it.

I did like the plotline of The Shadowverse, but there were times where I found that it got choppy. Like when the author went into Rose/Adira’s background. Her backstory didn’t meld well into the main story. There were other, smaller instances, but Rose’s stood out the most in the book. Other than that, I did like the plotline. It was fast paced and well written.

The characters in The Shadowverse was some of the more unique ones that I have read in a book. What I liked the most about these characters was that the author was able to make me feel pity and sympathy for the main bad guys (Titan and Solis). Of course, that sympathy waned throughout the book. But still.

The main plotline was interesting. I enjoyed seeing the kids learning about their powers. They did everything that I expected kids that age to do if they found out that they had powers. I enjoyed seeing the different planets that the kids visited as they tracked down Titan. I also enjoyed seeing their interactions with Sonovan. And the training. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with that!!

The last battle, between The Shadowforce and Titan, was epic. The aftermath of the fight was heartbreaking. My heart was in my throat when during those scenes. The aftermath of the fight was heartbreaking. I cried right along with Johnny and Sam. I also needed to know who Z was. The clue given at the end of the book makes me wonder if the answer was right under my nose!!!

I would give The Shadowverse an Older Teen rating. There is no sex. There is mild language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I would reread The Shadowverse.  I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The Christmas Star (Christmas Hope: Book 9) by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Star (Christmas Hope #9)

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: October 16th, 2018

Genre: General Fiction, Christian

Series: Christmas Hope

The Christmas Shoes—Book 1

The Christmas Blessing—Book 2

The Christmas Hope—Book 3

The Christmas Promise—Book 4

The Christmas Secret—Book 5

The Christmas Note—Book 6

The Christmas Light—Book 7

The Christmas Town—Book 8

The Christmas Star—Book 9

Where you can find The Christmas Star: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series comes another heartwarming, inspirational story for the holidays.

Thirty-two-year-old Amy Denison volunteers at Glory’s Place, an after school program where she meets seven-year-old Maddie, a precocious young girl who has spent her childhood in foster care. Unbeknownst to Amy, Maddie is a mini-matchmaker, with her eye on just the right man for Amy at Grandon Elementary School, where she is a student. Amy is hesitant – she’s been hurt before, and isn’t sure she’s ready to lose her heart again – but an unexpected surprise makes her reconsider her lonely lifestyle.

As Christmas nears and the town is blanketed in snow and beautiful decorations, Maddie and the charming staff at Glory’s Place help Amy to see that romance can be more than heartache and broken promises.

In The Christmas Star, Donna VanLiere delivers yet another sweet, joyous story that is sure to capture readers’ hearts.

My review:

It seems like I am reading and reviewing a lot of Christmas books lately. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and I like reading books that put me in the holiday mood. Especially when it is the middle of October, in the mid to high 80’s and as humid as it is in mid-August. So, yes, I enjoyed reading The Christmas Star.

The Christmas Star is a cute second chance romance, even though it isn’t billed as one. Amy is volunteering at an after-school program called Glory’s Place. It is there that she meets Maddie, an adorable 7-year-old who has spent her entire life in foster care. Gabriel is a custodian at a local elementary school. He knows Maddie from school and has become fast friends with her. Maddie is not so subtle about them meeting. And when they do, surprise doesn’t even cover what they both felt. See, Amy and Gabriel were married and had gotten divorced. They try to stay apart but life keeps throwing them together. What will happen to them? Will they rekindle their romance? Or will they go their separate ways?

What I Liked About The Christmas Star:

What did I like about The Christmas Star? Hmmm, let me think for a minute. I liked reading this book and finding myself smiling during certain scenes. Mainly the ones with Maddie in them. I loved that little girl. I liked most of the characters. I liked that it was set during Christmas (duh…lol). I also liked that it was a second chance romance, even though it wasn’t billed as one. But, what I liked the most, is that there was no sex in this book at all. It was 100% a clean book. I also liked that this book was a Christian book. I liked that Christianity was discussed but not pushed down my throat.

To Recap:

  1. Certain scenes made me smile
  2. Most of the characters
  3. It was set during Christmas
  4. A second chance romance
  5. Zero sex. Not even kissing!!
  6. A Christian book but didn’t overwhelm me as I read it.

What I Disliked About The Christmas Star:

There were things that I didn’t like about this book. I was confused about why Amy and Gabriel’s relationship ended. There were two explanations. One was dumbed down to a 7-year-old (I wasn’t a good husband). The other one was when Gabriel was thinking about the past (I was a bad husband and I drank too much). I figured Gabriel drank too much but what else happened? I also didn’t like that Lauren and Travis’s story took over the book. That is something I cannot stand when I am reading a series of books. Those characters and that storyline should have been regulated to the background. I also didn’t like how happy Amy’s parents were about certain things that happened at the end of the book. Even though Gabe talked to them for 5 hours, it still struck a chord on my BS meter. And the last thing: The adoption. I know people who have adopted out of foster care before and it took months (even uncontested). There were so many hurdles that they had to jump through it wasn’t even funny. So to have one go through in under a month didn’t ring true to me.

To Recap:

  1. Confused about why Amy and Gabriel’s relationship ended
  2. Lauren and Travis’s relationship being one of the main storylines
  3. How happy Amy’s parents were about what happened at the end of the book
  4. The adoption. Not a realistic situation

What I rated the book and why:

I gave The Christmas Star a 3-star rating. I enjoyed reading the book and thought it was a sweet story. I loved that it was set around Christmas. I also liked this book was 100% clean. There was no sex. Don’t get me wrong, I loved me some sex but in this case, the book didn’t need it. But there were some things that I didn’t like about this book. The main thing, which affected the rating, was the adoption at the end of the book. It was not realistic. My other reasons were what I felt personally about certain things in the book and listed above.

I would give The Christmas Star an Older Teen rating. There is no sex or sexual situations. There is no language. There is no violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread The Christmas Star. I am also on the fence if I would recommend this book to family and friends

Other stuff:

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Christmas Star.

All opinions stated in this review of The Christmas Star are mine.

I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Have you read The Christmas Star?

Love it? 

Hate it?

Meh about it?

Let me know!!!

Crimson Cage by Thomas Howard

4 Stars


Date of Publication: September 27th, 2017

Genre: Christian, Thriller, General Fiction

Number of pages: 198

POV: 3rd person

Series: Cage Series

Caged Light – Book 1 (review here)

Crimson Cage – Book 2

Where you can find Crimson Cage: Amazon |

Books synopsis (from Amazon):

Some legends are born, others are forged in the crucible of fire. For Detective Wyatt Cage, fighting a demonic crime lord was just the beginning. Plunged deep inside of a world he barely believed existed, he is swept into a fight against possibly the greatest general ever to be born of HellÕs army to rescue countless children from a fate worse than death. Failure in this attempt will unleash HellÕs might upon the world in a war unlike any other. Along his dark road, Wyatt will discover two things his true lineage and something he never knew he was missing, his son. However, his fight in the realm where nightmare and reality are one may just cost Wyatt his life as he knows it.

Trigger Warning: None

Continue reading “Crimson Cage by Thomas Howard”

12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: Book 1) by Michelle Griep

12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1)

Title: 12 Days At Bleakly Manor

Author: Michelle Griep

Publisher: Barbour Publishing Inc, Shiloh Run Press

Date of publication: September 1st, 2017

Genre: Christian, General Fiction, Mystery

Number of pages: 192

POV: 3rd person

Series: Once Upon A Dickens Christmas

12 Days At Bleakly Manor – Book 1

A Tale of Two Hearts – Book 2 (expected publication date: 2018)

Where you can find 12 Days At Bleakly Manor: Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Trigger Warning: None

Continue reading “12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: Book 1) by Michelle Griep”

Mary Poser: Butterflies and White Lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville by Angel A.

Mary Poser: Butterflies and White Lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville

Title: Mary Poser: Butterflies and White Lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville

Author: Angel A.

Publisher: Angel’s Leap

Date of publication: August 21st, 2017

Genre: General Fiction

Number of pages: 478

POV: 1st person

Where you can find this book: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

The recipe for a warm and humorous story…

In a modest bowl of Nashville, gently place a girl who is Country music, Bible belt, and a Steakhouse foodie.

Then add a surprise portion of exotic and handsome Anglo-Indian, who is a passionate Bollywood director, vegetarian and Hindu.

Stir vigorously on a bed of intense attraction.

At first, the ingredients will seem to clash and separate.

Keep stirring…

Include a dollop of jealous boyfriend and a meddling mother.

Splash in a serving of fun and mischievous friends. Keep stirring…

Add a dash of a crazy aunt and a minister father to keep the flavors working together.

Sprinkle in even more complicated family members to taste.

Cook on high emotions.

The secret ingredient that cuts through the sweetness is a final layer of shocking revelation that adds a surprising depth of flavor.

Finish with a twist of ‘Oh My God! Is she really going to do that?’.

Serve as tasty bite-size chapters in a novel dish of mayhem and madness with a side of Country music and Bollywood dancing.

My review:

I couldn’t get into this book, which is very unusual for me. I didn’t love this book but I didn’t hate it either. I was kinda “eh” while reading it. Which made me a little sad because I really wanted to get into the book. I like most of the characters and thought the storyline was great. It just didn’t hold my attention.

I didn’t like Mary at first. She really was kind of a pushover and there were certain points in the book where I kinda wanted to go into the book, shake her and yell “Why!! Use your brain!!” But, seeing that this is a fiction book, I just settled for humphing grumpily at my Kindle. I think that she could have had a better choice in friends too. Her family, though, she didn’t have a choice and they were all kinds of crazy. Oh, and let’s not forget that she was immature. There were certain scenes where I was like “Really, you could have handled that better”. But by the end of the book, I did like her. She came into her own and I was like “You go girl”

I actually felt bad for Simha. He fell for a girl who was the polar opposite from him and who kept jerking him around the entire book. Honestly, I would have said “See ya” after the scene where she bolted after they had sex. But he still kept on trying. Sending her gifts, texting her all the time, making a Bollywood musical in Nashville so he could be near her. He was too much, even for me.

The secondary characters left a bad taste in my mouth. Mary’s mother was a homophobic, racist Christian. Her brother was the same but on a lesser level. Her father had no backbone and acted like Jerry Lewis to break up arguments. Her best friend was a jealous witch who was all about herself. Her fiancé was self-centered and racist. Actually, the only secondary characters I liked were Alice and Erin. But really, having Alice say “bro” all the time got very tiring to read. Also, having the characters leaving the g’s off of words “Starvin’, such as, was great to create the accent but that too got tiring to read.

I did like the sex scene between Simha and Mary. It showed the full depth of their feelings for each other (even if Mary wasn’t willing to admit it). All I have to say is cosmic sex rocks….lol. That scene is also why I kinda hesitated on slapping a Christian label on this review. But seeing how heavily God was mentioned, I felt that a Christian label was appropriate.

The whole Bollywood angle fascinated me, along with the mentions of the Hindu religion. Believe it or not, but I have never seen a Bollywood movie but after this book, I am going to find one and watch it. I have a feeling that it will be right up my alley. Also, I didn’t know much about the Hindu religion and thought that it was awesome that the author had Simha explain the aspect of the religion to Mary. What I liked were the changes that Mary made in her life. Taking up yoga and going vegetarian was a pretty significant lifestyle change. I just wish that she had the sense to do the other changes earlier in the book.

The end of the book was insane. Everything blew up at once and it was kind of hard to keep track of things. But I liked it, it was very interesting and definitely kept you on your toes reading wise

How many stars will I give Mary Poser:  3

Why: I kinda went back and forth on giving either a 3 star or 4-star rating to this book. While I loved the romance aspect of it, I felt that the other parts of the book brought the book down. I couldn’t get past Mary’s mother and that is what caused me to lower the book down to a 3-star rating. If she had been toned down a tad, then I think I would have given the book 4 stars.

Will I reread: Maybe

Will I recommend to family and friends: Maybe

Age range: Adult

Why: One intense sex scene. Also, racist comments and homophobic comments

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

New Blood (Thoroughbred Breeders: Book 1) by Christine Meunier

New Blood (Thoroughbred Breeders, #1)

Title: New Blood

Author: Christine Meunier

Publisher: Self-published

Date of publication: November 22nd, 2016

Genre: Romance, Christian, Young Adult

Number of pages: 103

POV: 3rd person

Series: Thoroughbred Breeders

New Blood – Book 1

No Hoof, No Horse – Book 2

Recessive – Book 3

Where you can find  this book: Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Savannah Reynier is doing exactly what she wants in life. After finishing a horse breeding course she has landed a job and been working on a thoroughbred stud for the past year.

Her days are made up of looking after mares and foals, witnessing births and helping to breed horses. Plus, one day a week she holds horses for the farrier men who come to trim the horses’ feet.

Savannah has sworn she won’t date farriers – not ever again. Not after Jackson.

So what is she to do about the new apprentice in town? With an attractive frame, gorgeous smile and green eyes Savannah knows she’s already in trouble. Add a clever mind to the mix and she knows she needs to stick to her resolve. But looking never hurt anyone, right?

My review:

What a cute book and a great beginning to series. I have been fascinated (scratch that, obsessed) with Thoroughbred horses since I was about 8 or 9 years old and I was first introduced to Walter’s Farley’s the Black Stallion series. I devoured those books and I believe that I had the entire series. Unfortunately, my mother tossed them when I moved out, and I still feel the loss of those books. So when Christine approached me to review this book, I jumped on it.

I thought Savannah was cute but also felt that she was missing something when reading her. While I definitely connected with her, I felt that something was missing. She almost felt a little flat to me. There were no real emotions that came from her. Everything was on an even keel. I mean, even when the mare was having a difficult labor and she, with the help of the new farrier, helped the mare deliver the foal, I didn’t get a real sense of joy from her. Like I said, flat. I couldn’t even get a good reading if she was interested in Craig, other than her stomach flip-flopping back and forth when she saw him

I also liked that while this is a Christian romance, religion wasn’t pushed down your throat. It was mentioned and just left at that, a mention. The only time that it even came up was when the new foal that Savannah delivered needed to be named and Craig suggested Twenty Three. For the Twenty-Third Psalm.

I do have a couple of questions that will probably be answered in the next books. Like, who was Jackson? I know he was a farrier but what on earth did he do to Savannah. Where was Savannah from? I get the feeling since Creole was mentioned, that she is from the States but it really wasn’t gotten into.

Other than my minor complaints,  I did enjoy reading the book. The end of the book was not a cliffhanger but it did leave room for book 2.

How many stars will I give New Blood: 3.5 (rounded up to 4 for Goodreads/Amazon)

Why: I enjoyed reading this book but I did have some issues with Savannah being flat. I also have some questions that were not answered in this book (see above). Other than that, this was a great read and I enjoyed reading about life on a horse ranch. This is a book that I would feel comfortable having my 11-year-old read…even though it is not in middle-grade categories.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Tween

Why: Very clean book. No swearing, no sex, no violence. There is a Christian element but it is not pushed down your throat. Like I said above, a book I would be comfortable having my tween read.

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Caged Light by Tom Howard

Title: Caged Light

Author: Tom Howard


Date of publication: December 18th, 2016

Genre: Thriller, Christian

Number of pages: 140

Series: No

POV: 3rd person

Where you can find this book: Amazon (paperback only)

Goodreads synopsis:

Former hitman, Wyatt Cage, turned detective, stumbles upon a mysterious woman whose only memory is her name. Their lives are quickly thrust together and soon find Wyatt’s past threatens the discovery of not only the woman but her life as well. Stopping at nothing to uncover the truth, failure would certainly bring destruction in the spiritual realm, as Wyatt’s former boss, Damon Carver, a powerful crime lord, would chase them to the ends of the earth to get his hands on the woman. However, unsealing the reality of the woman’s identity may just come at too high of a cost for Wyatt. Of the battle between good and evil, it appears the latter may just have the upper hand.

My review:

I was a little surprised when I read Caged Light. Not surprised in a bad way but surprised in a good way. I honestly wasn’t expecting the book to be what it was…..a Christian thriller with horror elements woven in. It was a first for me to read something like this and I enjoyed it very much.

I liked how the author dragged out who Michelle was until the end of the book. I was honestly very surprised when it was revealed who she was and why everyone wanted her. The red herring that the author put in did have me thinking what he wanted me to think. Which was great because once it was revealed, I was shocked.

I really liked Wyatt too. He was a former assassin for a crime boss who had a change of heart and profession. When he met Michelle, he was as a detective. I liked how the author combined Wyatt’s past and present life. It was very interesting to read about a detective with his assets. His relationship with his former boss was something that bothered me. Why would someone be that interested in a person who left him? But then I found out why and I was like “Makes sense now”.

I will say that the things happening to Michelle did creep me out. Like I couldn’t sleep afterward because I thought a little girl was going to show up out of nowhere creep me out. But once it was revealed what they were, at the end of the book, it made perfect sense. At one point in the book, though, I really did think she was losing it….lol.

The relationship between Michelle and Wyatt was cute and for a little while there, I thought it was going to turn romantic. I am glad when it didn’t, though, because it would have ruined the book in my eyes.

I liked that the Christian element wasn’t too heavy-handed in this book. I have read plenty of books where it is forced down your throat until you gag on it. Which was very nice and I was able to read the characters without having to worry about being preached to.

The storyline was pretty straightforward. Girl wakes up in craters, can’t remember anything but her name, gets chased through a forest by some seriously evil things and gets rescued by a handsome police officer. The rest of the story is her and the police officer running from some unnamed evil while trying to remember who she is. The crime lord storyline was woven beautifully into the main storyline and it was ended wonderfully, as was the storyline of Wyatt’s twin brother.

The end of the story was pretty good. There were a couple of twists in the story that I honestly didn’t see coming and they made the book. I do think that there could be a book 2 with the way the story ended and I really do hope that. I need to read more about Wyatt :).

How many stars will I give Caged Light: 4

Why: I enjoyed reading this book. It was scary enough to keep me up at night and was not preachy. The characters were well-rounded and the mystery about who Michelle was kept the book hopping.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age Range: Adult

Why: Violence

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**

Through Raging Waters (Snowy Range Chronicles: Book 1) by Renee Blare

Through Raging Waters by [Blare, Renee]

Publisher: Prism Book Group

Date of publication: July 8th, 2016

Series: Snowy Range Chronicles.

To Soar on Eagle’s Wings – Book 1

Through Raging Waters – Book 2

Genre: Romance, Christian

Where can you find this book? Amazon

Book synopsis:

If Mother Nature has her way, Timber Springs will never be the same…

A warm spring and early rainstorms melt the snowpack. Spring runoff compounded by the storm of the century sends Timber Springs into a tailspin.
Tossed into the role of rescuer, local pharmacist Paul Fitzgerald must face his past before the whole world falls apart. While he fights to contain the beast around him, he finds his steadfast control slipping through his fingers. And life…everyone’s life…hangs by a thread once again.
She isn’t a hero. Melissa Hampton has her own demons to battle. After she learns of her mysterious beginnings amidst her mother’s keepsakes, she faces more than just the river rushing outside her door. Now, she must discern friend from foe…but as waters rise and tension climbs within Timber Springs, she needs to rise to the challenge or lose the only man she’s ever loved.

Can two people find each other through raging waters?

My review:

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, considering that it started slow. I had trouble getting through the first couple of chapters before it picked up steam.

Through Raging Waters is a Christian romance and I was expecting it to be incredibly preachy. It wasn’t. Melissa and Paul’s relationship interweaved skillfully with each other and other people. Unlike some other Christian novels I have read, their relationship and religion wasn’t preachy.

Through Raging Waters is not a standalone book. I wish that I had read To Soar on Eagle’s Wings (which is Rachel and Steve’s story) to understand some of the back stories in this book. It doesn’t take away from the book at all. It raised some questions on my end about what happened in the first book.

I did like Melissa. She was strong in faith and spirit. I couldn’t have gone on living in a town where my attacker resided and not known who he was. It would have driven me crazy. I felt awful during the scenes where she uncovered her deceased mother’s secrets and then met her father. Talk about hitting you in the feels.

Paul was an enigma to me. I couldn’t figure out what he did. I did figure out that the discussion about his job happened in book 1.  His faith was just as strong as Melissa’s. I believe that his prayers and Melissa’s determination to get to him are what saved him.

I liked that the romance between Paul and Melissa was almost not there. There were sparks at the beginning that got squashed by the flood, Paul’s father having a stroke and Paul leaving on the rescue mission. The whole time he was gone, they both thought of each other regularly and with love. It wasn’t until Ajax forced Melissa to come to terms with her feelings and she let Paul know how she felt that the book took on the romance angle.

The ending of the book was great. There was a big plot twist that I saw coming but didn’t expect and another one that took me by surprise. I liked that while everything was wrapped up for Melissa and Paul, the author left the book open for the other children.

How many stars will I give Through Raging Waters? 4/4.5

Will I reread? Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends? Yes

Age Range: Teen

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

All is Bright (Hope Beach) by Colleen Coble

All Is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella by [Coble, Colleen]

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Date of publication: October 6th, 2015

Genre: Holiday, Christmas, Christian Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Christian, Novella, Mystery, Suspense

Series: Hope Beach

Tidewater Inn—Book 1

Rosemary Cottage—Book 2

Seagrass Pier—Book 3

All is Bright

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

A romantic, Christmas wedding at her seaside hotel gives Delilah a chance to shine with her unique gifts. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say “I do”? 

As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friends at the grand hotel overlooking the ocean. While picking up still more twinkly lights and some last-minute groceries for the reception dinner, a huge truck runs her off the freezing, wet roads into the dark night. Her car stops just short of an enormous tree and the truck speeds off into the night. Delilah escapes with her life and has almost convinced herself the whole thing was an accident, but then she begins to receive threatening phone calls. With the wedding just hours away, she’s distracted and anxious. Then Sheriff Tom Bourne stops by the inn and volunteers to help.

Tom has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he’s determined to protect her. But he is pulled away by a bizarre Christmas stunt that has the neighborhood reeling, and Delilah is attacked again.

Will Delilah have to cancel the Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn? And will Tom’s protection be enough to save Delilah from the shadowy figure looming in the background?

If you have been following this blog for a while, then you know my intense dislike of picking up a book that is part of a series. This also extends to novellas/short stories in the series.

I am happy that this novella/short story is none of the above. It had developed characters and a suspenseful plot line that kept you guessing until the end.

The only thing I had an issue with was the romance between Delilah and Tom. It seemed to come out of nowhere, which was weird to me. I mean, they have known for years and then realized that they had chemistry? Not believable.

I would recommend All is Bright to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, language, and no sex.

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