All Manner of Things

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

Honestly, I’m not sure what I thought of this book!  It was sad and difficult but so gripping and so many layers.  Taking place in Michigan in 1967 and dealing with the Vietnam war, it gives so much insight; not only to the war but also life and racial relations in rural America.  From Mike’s letters we learn about the servicemen in Vietnam.  But from the ongoing story and letters from Annie, we understand the times.  I loved how both Mike and Annie grow in their relationships to God, that even if He seems far away, He really hasn’t gone anywhere.

So, although I really wanted to keep reading the book to find out the ending (and there is good in the ending), it was not what I wanted to read – it was hard and didn’t make my day brighter.  Maybe part of my problem was the characters were too real and I like happy endings.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:  Susie Finkbeiner – Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018).

What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to.

The Number of Love – a novel

The Number of Love (Codebreakers, #1)

 

The Toughest Puzzle She’ll Have to Solve
Might Be the Wishes of Her Own Heart

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network–field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack German telegrams for hints of the enemy’s plans. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, she discovers for the first time in her life that numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy who just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the quick and brainy Margot, but soon the dangers of the war draw ever closer. Margot and Drake will have to team up to save themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.

Wow!  What a fantastic book!  I loved all the mystery and intrigue – what a story the author has woven!  I couldn’t put it down.  So many variables with love and war and spies and decoding in London during the second world war.  Margot is a refuge from Belgium to London but has found her niche decoding the enemy’s messages.  Numbers are her life – but is there room for love in there?  Drake is a British spy in Spain, but his sister Dot has become Margot’s friend.  All are suffering from the war but learn to lean more and more on God through the trying times.

The author Roseanna White introduced Margot in a previous story, but this is the first in the Codebreakers series, and although it would be nice to meet her earlier, it is not necessary for the story.  I loved this story and highly recommend it!  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Number of Love released today!  Get your copy at https://www.amazon.com/Number-Love-Codebreakers-Roseanna-White/dp/0764231812/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=the+number+of+love&qid=1559692198&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

Roseanna M. WhiteThe Author: Roseanna M. White (www.roseannamwhite.com) is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, designing book covers, editing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

A Reluctant Bride – a novel

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Living in London’s poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she’s offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.

Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship’s surgeon, he’s in charge of the passengers’ welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.

With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?

Jody Hedlund is an amazing storyteller as she brings to life the horrors of the London slums of the 1800’s (“The sour reek of human waste and rotting garbage was ever present.”), the difficulties of sea voyages of the time, and the challenges of being a poor woman.  With no hope for employment, and a bleak future, poor women were eager to board a ship and sail for about 4 months to a distant colony and become the bride of a miner.  Jody Hedlund tells the story of some of these women through her new series The Bride Ships.  This is the first of the series and is the story of Mercy, who leaves her sister and family behind to allow the younger siblings more food.  The author lightly weaves faith in God into the book, “Mercy had tried to be like her sister, to have the same strong faith, to believe that God was with them in their afflictions.  But she’d never been quite as strong as Patience.”  On the ship she befriends many of the younger women and helps the ships doctor – but encounters a foe in the reverend who is very pious but not very godly!

This was a fascinating story and I recommend it!   I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Reluctant Bride just released today – you can get it on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Bride-Ships/dp/0764232959/ref=sr_1_3?crid=19CQ7KA6UHOSL&keywords=a+reluctant+bride+jody+hedlund&qid=1559686867&s=gateway&sprefix=a+reluct%2Caps%2C130&sr=8-3

 

The Author: Jody HedlundJody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over twenty historical novels for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards, including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats. Visit her at jodyhedlund.com.

A Silken Thread – a novel

For readers who love a heartwarming romance and a rich historical setting comes a tale of a young woman with a heavy burden, the International Cotton Exposition, and the pursuit of true love.

Eighteen-year-old Laurel Millard, youngest of seven children, is expected to stay home and “take care of Mama” by her older siblings, but Laurel has dreams of starting her own family. Operating a silk loom at the Atlanta Exposition will give her the chance to capture the heart of a man wealthy enough to take care of Laurel and any children she might bear, as well as her mother.

Langdon Rochester’s parents have given him an ultimatum: settle down with a wife or lose his family inheritance. At the Exposition, Langdon meets Laurel. Marrying her would satisfy his parents’s command, she would look lovely on his arm for social events, and in her besotted state, he believes she would overlook him continuing pursuing rowdy adventures with his unmarried buddies. Langdon decides to woo Laurel. Willie Sharp is not well-off and must take on an extra job at the Atlanta Exposition as a security guard. When mischief-makers cause trouble in the Women’s Building, Willie is put in charge of keeping the building secure. He enjoys visiting with Laurel, who seems like the little sister he never had, but his feelings for Laurel change to something much deeper. Can Willie convince Laurel that he can give her better life–even with so little to offer?

First, I’ve never read a book by Kim that I haven’t loved – and I thought this one was fabulous!  I loved all the various elements in this book – the Atlanta Cotton Expedition of 1895 (I’d never heard of it before), the racial prejudices of the late 1800’s, the silk weaving process and so much more, including a sweet love story!  The author skillfully wove a story that was enjoyable to read, taught about the class differences of the day, and showed the need for Christ and the changes He makes in people.

I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it!  I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, WaterBrookMultnomah. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This book goes on sale on April 2, 2019.

The Author: Kim Vogel SawyerAward-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, gramma, chocolate-lover, cat-petter, and–most importantly–a daughter of the King! With more than 1.5 million books in print in seven different languages, Kim enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Her “gentle stories of hope” are loved by readers and reviewers alike. Kim and her retired military husband, Don, reside on the plains of Kansas, the setting for many of her novels.

Of Fire and Lions – a novel

The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series.

Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she’d perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Now, as Daniel’s wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she’s safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear–until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar’s palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili’s tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?

Ultimately, Yahweh’s sovereign hand guides Jerusalem’s captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

What a fantastic Biblical fiction read!  I so enjoyed the story told by the author, who not only tells the Biblical story, taken from several books in the Bible, but also gives insight to that era in time and the historical people.  Basically, this is the story of Daniel.  Mesu switches the point of view from Daniel at times to Abigail, a servant girl.  The author also goes back and forth in time, starting with the night Belshazzar sees the writing on the wall and going back to the time of the exile, 66 years earlier.  Mesu weaves a story around the historical facts and palace intrigue, secrets that save and secrets that destroy, and Yahweh who saves and the god who doesn’t.

This is a great novel and I especially appreciated the Author’s note at the end, where she tells of how she decided to write the characters the way she did and what her research showed.  Ultimately, we don’t know the complete stories of these Biblical characters, but Mesu Andrews does an amazing job of providing a wonderful book that points the way to Yahweh.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you like Biblical fiction as it is a great book.   I received a copy of this book from the publisher, WaterBrookMultnomah.  I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Of Fire and Lions was just released on March 5 and can be purchased at Amazon and other places.

It’s okay not to be Okay (non-fiction)

We’ve all experienced that moment where we wish we could start all over again. Failed marriages, lost friends, addictions, lost jobs. This is not the life we imagined. Yesterday can sometimes leave us stuck, sad, shamed, scared, and searching. Sheila Walsh encourages readers to face the pain head on and then start again, from right where they are. She shares that when she discovered “I’m not good enough and I’m good with that,” everything started to change.

In It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, Walsh helps women overcome the same old rut of struggles and pain by changing the way they think about God, themselves, and their everyday lives. She shares practical, doable, daily strategies that will help women move forward one step at a time knowing God will never let them down.

I really appreciated Sheila’s openness and honesty – she doesn’t have answers for everything, and that life is hard and disappointing and not what we imagined!  But she also says that God is good and “we can trust Him even when we don’t understand where we are in life.”  That it is okay to not be okay because that’s why we need Jesus.  Yet she has struggled with this all her life.  I really related to her when in the 1st chapter she talked about wanting to be Wonder Woman – yet fails to have devotions or is not a good wife or mother.

Each chapter Sheila tells stories, of her failures or successes.  She also adds Biblical stories and take aways.  At the end of the chapter she has questions and verses to ponder.  It’s not a long book, but one you will go back to receive encouragement.  I highly recommend.  I received a copy of this book from Bakerbooks. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Author:Sheila Walsh is an author, speaker and Bible teacher who has sold over 4 million books. Her heart is to show what happens when your real life meets the Word of God. She is the author of the #1 best-selling line of Christian books for little girls, “Gigi, God’s Little Princess.” Sheila is the creator of Children of Faith and the Gnoo Zoo, a ministry to children that communicates God’s love for them. She is the author of several books for women including “Honestly,” “Gifts for Your Soul,” “Living Fearlessly,” and “The Best Devotions of Sheila Walsh”, “The Shelter of God’s Promises” and her latest book, “God Loves Broken People and those who pretend they’re not.” As an accomplished musician, Sheila has recently released the CD “Beauty From Ashes.” Sheila, her husband, Barry and their son, Christian live in Dallas, Texas.

Searching for You – a novel

Searching for You (Orphan Train Book #3) by [Hedlund, Jody]

Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won’t abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he’s in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?

The story of the third and youngest Neumann sister!  This is the 3rd book about the orphan train by author Judy Hedlund and she has done a magnificent job of showing how difficult life was for the youngest of immigrants – those orphaned at a young age without family to care for them.  I really can’t imagine such a life!  The author not only shows the positive aspects of the orphan trains, but also the truly horrifying parts.  But she brings in so much more than just the story of the orphans – she brings in issues such as pride and over abundance of self-sufficiency and more.

This is the 3rd book in the series and I highly recommend reading the previous ones – although you will not feel lost if you begin with this one.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it!  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Author:  Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.