Wishing On Willows

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Title: Wishing On Willows
Author: Katie Ganshert
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Published: March 19, 2013
Pages: 320

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Robin Price is the single mother of a three year old son, the proprietor of a struggling cafe, and all that plus fading memories are all she has left of her late husband. Being the proud owner of Willow Tree Cafe, she pours her heart into every muffin she makes and espresso she pulls. She loves the sense of purpose and community her cafe brings. But the cafe that represents her and her husband’s dreams is threatened when a condo is proposed where her shop and a vital town ministry are.

Ian McKay is the developer in charge of building the condo and his plans for an easy buyout and build is thrown a monkey wrench by none other than the beautiful owner of Willow Tree Cafe. She doesn’t plan on selling or giving up without a fight and neither does Ian. He’s determined to get her to sell and make his father proud and maybe make up for his past mistakes. With the future of his family’s business on the line he has a lot to lose if he fails.

As time passes and Robin still refuses to sell and Ian refuses to give up, Ian starts to wonder if he’s met his match and Robin tries to hold onto her husband’s memory and fight the attraction growing between her and Ian. Ian’s resolve weakens further when he finds out her grief resonates with his and with opinions separating the town, Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or give up their plans for God’s.

Will Robin save her cafe or will she lose it all for growth? Will Ian get his condos or will he lose to his beautiful headache? Or is there a way they can both get what they want? Will Robin choose her husband’s memory or will she choose a second chance at love? Will Ian decide to take another chance at love and risk getting his heart ripped out again or will he choose to live with his regret? Will they choose their plans or God’s?
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When I read this author’s first book I wasn’t expecting much out of it, but I found out pretty quickly that this author has an uncanny ability to portray grief in a believable way. This book is no different, in fact it’s even better. The storyline, grief, and romance are the caliber of someone who’s been published for years and that alone makes me a fan. This author amazed me with her ability and the fact that she hasn’t been published before now.

The romance is subtle and takes more of a backseat to the healing in this book and usually that makes me dislike a book but somehow it worked in this one. I also liked that this romance revolved around two people with completely different visions for the town. This romance broaches a lot of subjects that many authors have tried to broach, some succeeding and some not and this author definitely falls under succeeding. She nailed this romance.

The storyline of this novel is simple yet there’s a complexity to it that only appears with great characters with emotions and problems that make you think and feel along with them. I loved how each character has many different facets and is definitely more than one dimensional. The emotions that were spun into the story were portrayed so well that I saw myself feeling what the characters felt. This mountain of a feat is one of the main reasons why I’ve fallen in love with this author’s work.

The idea of this book is great too. A widow with a struggling cafe fights against and falls in love with a developer who’s determined to build a condo where her cafe stands. The execution was great too. I don’t really have a complaint about this book. Everything flowed together perfectly and the flow of the story never felt too slow or fast. If this is how this author’s stories are on her second novel how are they going to be on her sixth or twelfth? I can’t wait to find out.

Though this author is a new author, don’t write her off. She is a rare gem that captures your attention and won’t let it go. I love this author and she has made it onto my favorite author list with this book. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I fully intend to get my hands on as many of her books as possible. If you only read one new author, let it be this one. Her books are more than worth the time.

Overall, this is a great book especially for a second novel. It will capture you and make you feel with the characters. This book is perfect for emotional fiction lovers or romance lovers. I think it’s best for adults only on this one. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Christian Manifesto in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Navy SEAL Rescuer

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Title: Navy SEAL Rescuer
Series: Heroes For Hire
Author: Shirlee McCoy
Publisher: Love Inspired
Published: September 4, 2012
Pages: 224

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Catherine Miller just wants to lay low at her isolated farmhouse after spending four years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. If only that was as easy as it sounds. Someone is convinced that she’s guilty even though she’s been proven innocent. They want her to pay the ultimate price, but they underestimate the power of her and her neighbor, who is determined to keep her safe.

Darius Osborne, a former Navy SEAL now a security contractor, is trying to spend his vacation fixing up his new old house and try to forget the pain of his past. All seems to be going well until he finds himself on another off-duty mission that’s more personal as time goes by. He vows to keep her safe, but with her determination to not trust and to do everything herself, Darius worries that he might not be able to protect her enough.

With a cold-blooded killer on their trail, Catherine must learn to trust again even if it means she might get hurt and Darius finds he might have to brave heartache again and risk his lonely life. Darius has a amazing team of security experts, but this killer seems to find them everywhere they go, not to mention get through their security measures. Despite all his caution, Darius might not be able to save Catherine from this determined killer.

Will Catherine be able to trust again despite what happened to her or will she lose something special for her walls? Will Darius risk love again for a happy life or will he lose her because he doesn’t want to get hurt? Will Darius be able to save Catherine from the person who wants her dead or will he lose her to a sick person? Will they figure out who is Catherine’s attacker before he gets to them or after?
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I’ve read one other book by Shirlee McCoy and enjoyed it and so I was excited when I got review another book in the same series. Compared to the previous one, this book was much better. I felt a cohesion that wasn’t as noticeable in the other. I also felt a flow in the mixture of the different genres and the novella size that isn’t normally there. I think this is one of the better Love Inspired Suspense that I’ve read.

The romance in this book is fast, not only in page space but also book time. The romance takes place over the course of around a week, give or take a few days. Normally that makes the book seemed rushed and unrealistic, however in this book the attraction was throughout the book and the “I love you”‘s doesn’t come as a surprise or feel like they were said too early. The author did a fantastic job with this romance.

The suspense was actually really good. Mainly because the author did the best thing, she made the stalker a person that wasn’t in the majority of the story, which makes it near impossible to guess. It was nice to be caught reasonably by surprise at who was responsible. The motive was a bit extreme but not unbelievable. The author nailed this suspense with a believable plate, motive, and culprit. Not to mention the culprit surprise.

The storyline is cohesive and proves that a novella sized book shouldn’t mean the story has to be rushed or too simple. This author provided a complex storyline with a nice romance all in two hundred twenty four pages. That isn’t an easy thing to do and I give major credit to this author for somehow pulling this story off and giving her readers an enjoyable and actually nerve wracking story in a small amount of pages. This author should be proud of this one.

This author captured me with Lone Defender and completely sold me to her work with this book. This author truly has a gift and I will be reading more from her. I also would really love to see her get a full-length book deal, if she hasn’t already gotten one, and see what she can do there. If she already has a book published outside Love Inspired, sign me up, I want to read it. This book and author comes highly recommended.

Overall, this book is great as is the perfect example of a good novella. This book is perfect for novella fans, suspense fans, or romance fans. I think this book is best kept to the adults and maybe to highly mature teens. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary ebook copy of this book from the publisher through the NetGalley program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

When The Heart Heals

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Title: When The Heart Heals
Series: Sisters At Heart
Author: Ann Shorey
Publisher: Revell
Published: February 15, 2013
Pages: 352

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Rosemary Saxon is a courageous, unconventional and stubborn woman who served as a nurse during the Civil War. Her past has caused most women in town to view her as unfeminine and even downright vulgar. Despite the fact that she would like to leave that part of herself in the past, she needs a way to support herself and this is all she knows beside herbs and their healing powers. So she gets a job as a nurse at the handsome new doctor’s office, but every time they’re near each other they clash and Rosemary struggles to hold back her flaming temper.

Doctor Elijah Stewart moved away from his father’s past to the small town he now calls home and just wants a quiet life completely different from his father’s. When Rosemary comes in wanting a nursing job he figures she would come in handy. Little does he know how she will turn his life upside-down or how she will make him question things about his life and his beliefs. Or how she will make him view a future with her in it.

As their attraction for each other grows, a man threatens Rosemary. The bolder he gets the more Rosemary must rely on others, a thing she isn’t good at and stand talk when all she wants to do is run away forever. Elijah must decide if he wants a quiet life with Rosemary or a fast life in his father’s practice and a woman that wants him for his title. He must also show Rosemary that letting someone help you doesn’t mean charity but love.

Will Rosemary leave nursing behind or will she find that she loves it way too much to give it up? Will Elijah and Rosemary fall in love or will life and circumstance get in their way? Will Elijah be able to convince Rosemary that love means letting someone take care of you or will Rosemary forever want to do things herself? Will Elijah choose Rosemary over fortune or will he choose money over his values and the woman he could see himself spending his life with?
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I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it but it wasn’t one of my favorites. I decided to read this one because I wanted to finish the series but I hoped that maybe this one would be better than the first. My hope was a reality. The author definitely improved on storyline and execution in this new installment of the series. However, the book wasn’t perfect, but compared to the first in this series, it was a huge improvement.

The romance in this book is a little sudden. Like the prequel to this one, the main characters start a relationship suddenly and say “I love you” way too suddenly. Despite the quick pace of the romance, the romance was actually quite adorable and I think it’s a fantasy of every nurse or nurse-to-be to possibly fall in love with a doctor. The romance was adorable and the idea of it was really romantic. The author improved on her previous one and did pretty well with this romance.

The storyline was kind of neat. A Civil War nurse falls in love with her boss, a doctor, but just when life seems bright a man threatens her because of her herbal remedies. The execution was a little bit less exciting than the idea, but considering how difficult it is to mesh two different genres into one, the execution was pretty good. I’ve only read two books by this author, but out of those two this one has the better storyline.

Obviously from the synopsis, this book has a little bit of suspense in it. It seems to be there only to add a bit of conflict and to keep you more interested in what would’ve been a fairly conflict-less storyline. Considering that, the culprit is fairly easy to figure out because there is only a handful of people it could be and most of them wouldn’t do that to Rosemary. This suspense was pretty good for a background side conflict.

This author captured my attention with the first book in this series and though she still isn’t at the top of my favorites list she is on my list of authors to watch and she is slowly getting toward that list. This is an author that’s growing on me slowly and is one that I have to get used to their writing style, but I do enjoy her books and will read more from her and definitely finish this series.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read but the romance seems sudden and the suspense is easy to figure out. This book is perfect for historical romance lovers who like a less passionate read. I think this book can be read by adults and teens. I give this book a three and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Picture Perfect

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Title: Picture Perfect
Series: Weddings by Design
Author: Janice Thompson
Publisher: Revell
Published: February 15, 2013
Pages: 336

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Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio and she’ll soon be featured in Texas Bride Magazine. She also has a celebrity client whose Galveston wedding ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neely’s list of recommended photographers. Unfortunately it could all come crashing down around her because of her ability to always mess up opportunities and one man, her arch-rival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.

With a past of coming in second, the last thing Hannah wants is to play second fiddle to someone else again. She’s determined to do almost anything to be considered the best and best her rival. However, it seems like the closer she gets to the wedding that can make or break her career, problems arise out of nowhere and she starts to realize that maybe coming in first isn’t as important as she thought it was.

As the competition heats up, Hannah is surprised to find that that’s not the only thing heating up. She can’t get her handsome competitor out of her thoughts or even line of sight and her dream job is becoming a nightmare because of it. When Drew offers his support and friendship, Hannah can’t help but start to view her competition as more of a confidante and maybe even more. If she let go of her pride long enough to let him in.

Will Hannah become number one like she wants or will she play second fiddle to Drew? Will Hannah become the top photographer on Bella Neely’s list or will Drew kick her down to second again? Will Hannah see that Drew isn’t her competition or will she forever dislike him because he excels at what he does? Will Hannah’s pride keep her from seeing that her picture perfect love is right in front of her or will she find out that love is more than possible for her?
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I’ve read a book from each one of this author’s series, at least the ones printed by Revell, and I enjoyed each one. I loved the fact that she incorporated characters from each of her other series into this book, it allowed readers a new look at those characters and gave them a different viewpoint. That along with the humorous and cute romance made this an enjoyable book. I think this book was the best one from this author.

This romance is quite adorable. That seems corny to say so and probably makes it sound like two kids have a crush on each other, but it really was. It was sweet with minimal amount of physical touch and funny with some humor. Also, the fact that Hannah feels that Drew is her arch-rival and Drew doesn’t makes the story even better. This romance isn’t for lovers of passionate romances but for those that like nice, sweet romances this one is perfect.

The thing that I dislike most about this book and pretty much all of this author’s books, is the darn first person viewpoint. This author is better at first person than others but the things that I dislike the most about it is the fact that all I get is the main person. I would’ve loved to have had a section every now and again that was from Drew’s viewpoint, even if it was first person. Also, first person is difficult to get into because you don’t really get to draw your own conclusions, you get what the narrator or character wants to give you and that’s hard.

The storyline is great. I love the concept. A photographer falls for her perceived competitor. I also loved the fact that Hannah wasn’t perfect and had flaws and doubts and insecurities. Though I felt she was a tad bit too worrisome and fearful, I felt like her attitude was realistic just a bit too much. I also liked how the author resolved Hannah’s fears and worries.

This author has made me a fan with the first book in her Weddings by Bella series and each book since then have been even better. This book is no different, in fact I feel like this book is the best one yet by her and I look forward to reading the rest in this series. I recommend this author and book to anyone looking for a sweet romance without too many passionate scenes.

Overall, this is a good book. Despite its first person viewpoint, it holds your attention and is an enjoyable read. I recommend this to anyone looking for a typical Christian genre book. I think this book is perfect for adults, teens, and maybe a very mature tween. I give this book a three and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Jake

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Title: Jake
Series: Wyoming Sky
Author: R. C. Ryan
Publisher: Forever
Published: February 26, 2013
Pages: 448

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Meg Stanford inherited her estranged father’s estate and all the emotional baggage that comes with it after his sudden death. She has a plan, sell the land and get back to D. C. and her job as a lawyer as soon as possible, but emotions, memories, and surprises keep her from selling the property as quickly as she thought she would. Not to mention there is a series of break-ins in her new house, but no thefts. The one man she can turn to and trust is the one man that can jeopardize everything that’s familiar.

Jake Conway is a respected veterinarian and most eligible bachelor in his small hometown. He is a man that likes to be wild and free, at least he thinks so until he meets his new neighbor, a beautiful redhead with a major chip on her shoulder. Jake has an immediate attraction to her as well as an urge to protect her, which comes in handy when she needs protecting.

As their attraction grows, so does the danger that has targeted Meg. Meg is determined to get back to the life she thinks she loves but memories both good and bad make her question whether the home she loved as a child is better or her new familiar life. Jake is determined to show Meg that not only can life here be worth a chance, but he’s worth a shot as well, as well as protect her from someone who wants her gone.

Will Meg choose D. C. or childhood home that she loved? Will Jake be able to convince her to stay or will he lose her to her comfortable life? Will Jake be able to protect Meg from a man that keeps to the shadows and never let’s himself be seen or will he fail and lose her? Will Meg’s decision to resist Jake’s charm succeed or will she give in to what he offers?
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I’ve been trying to expand my range of what I review, thus I’ve decided to expand into some mainstream novels as well. My access to them is limited but I will try to get some good ones. This is my second mainstream romance and it won’t be the last. I didn’t know what to expect from this author or book but I got a pretty good book and made me hopeful this new territory will produce some gems as well.

The romance in this book is actually pretty nice. There is a line that books in the Christian genre don’t cross but this one did, thankfully though the sex in this book wasn’t too graphic and left quite a bit to the imagination, which I appreciate. Despite that the romance can actually be considered kind of sweet. Jake is Meg’s protector and despite her resolve to not fall for him, she does. I loved certain aspects of this romance.

The suspense in this book wasn’t the focal point, it was just there to add some conflict and wasn’t there for a portion in the middle of the book. The suspense was realistic but kind of extreme. If I was this author I probably would’ve chose a more realistic and probable MO for the intruder. However, the suspense flowed well with the story, though I do wish that it would’ve been mixed more throughout. In general, though, this is a decent suspense considering how hard it would be to mix two genres that require a lot of attention each.

This story was pretty good and makes me not as intimidated as I was to read certain mainstream books. I know I still need to exercise discretion with which ones I pick but I feel like I can truly find some magnificent reads by just going out of my comfort zone. Though this wasn’t quite a gem it wasn’t terrible and it was an enjoyable read. For me something was missing out of this romance, but I can’t put my finger on what it was. It might be great for you though.

This author has written over 90 books and her experience shines through her books. You can tell that she knows what people want and knows how to fulfill that want with a good story. This book wasn’t my favorite, but I do think that this author’s ability makes up for a story that I didn’t love. I do intend to read more from her and hopefully more like her.

Overall, this book was a good enjoyable read. For me there was something off about the book but you might have better luck and enjoy it more. This book is perfect for lovers of mainstream romance novels. I think this book is perfect for adults but not really anyone else. I give this book a three out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Rebekah

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Title: Rebekah
Series: Wives of the Patriarchs
Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
Published: February 15, 2013
Pages: 320

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Rebekah’s life has just been torn upside down with her father’s death and now her future lies in the hands of her conniving brother. She should b married by now but her brother is clearly dragging his feet to wait for a bigger bride price and Rebekah is concerned she will spend the rest of her life an unmarried virgin. But when Rebekah figures that she is going is going to be stuck marrying a horrible man, she is given the opportunity to marry a cousin she has never met before. She has no idea the journey she’s about to go on.

Isaac is the promised child of his father, Abraham. Years ago, his father almost sacrificed him at the request of God and God’s voice was the only thing that stopped him. That day changed his life and the life of his parents. Now Isaac is grown and is ready to find a beautiful girl of his father’s people and marry her. When he sees the woman that was chosen for him, he couldn’t be happier. Little does he know the challenges he will face.

After they wed, Rebekah is scared that she won’t bear him a child and Isaac is trusting that God will follow through on his promises. When Rebekah does get pregnant she sees a vision that tells her that she is pregnant with twins and the younger with be stronger than the older and the older will obey the younger. This is where the hard journey begins as Isaac suffers doubt and Rebekah is determined to make the prophecy come true.

Will Rebekah be able to convince Isaac that her vision was real and not her imagination or will Isaac completely reject the idea? Will Isaac and Rebekah’s pride and stubbornness tear them apart or will they be able to put aside their differences and love each other? Who will Rebekah and Isaac pick? Their favorite child or each other?
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Every now and again I want to read a book that isn’t predominately romance or even a romance at all. This was one of those times and this author fulfilled that desire. This book follows the lives of Isaac and Rebekah and their twins. It was a drama and a in-depth retelling of one of the most well-known biblical stories. This book is great and it gives some emotional depth to a story only telling the facts. It also helped to make sense of why they did what they did.

This book can’t really be categorized as a romance, yet I think that it fits into the category in a more unconventional way. The beginning of the book is technically a romance because you got to see the love between Isaac and Rebekah’s love grow. But the middle and the end of the book is where the unconventional comes in. For the majority of the book you see Rebekah and Isaac’s pride get in the way of each other yet the ending makes the whole romance complete. The end of this book moved my heart and made me long for a love like that (minus all the years spent in conflict die to pride and stubbornness).

The storyline of this book follows the story of the bible and, like always from this author, is historically and Biblically accurate, minus some modern lingo but that didn’t detract from the book at all. For some reason I loved this book and how it brought the story to life even though that story isn’t a pretty one. I usually only like stories that are generally more light-hearted but this book was different and it was so well written I couldn’t help but love it.

I liked the first book in this series. I loved this book and I can’t wait to read the next one. If I had to guess this one would be about Jacob, Rebekah and Isaac’s youngest twin son, and the drama that will ensue when he married two sisters. Whoever this next book is about, I fully intend to read it and any other book I can get my hands on from this author. This book is a gem that comes highly recommended.

I became a fan of this author with Sarai, the first book in this series, but with Rebekah I’m now a full out
lover of this author’s work. I love how well she tells these stories and keeps it accurate as well and I love that this is where her passion is. Her passion for the Bible and the people that make up it come through the pages of this book and all of her others as well. This book, series, and author come highly recommended.

Overall, a great retelling of the story of Rebekah and Isaac. I can’t wait for the next. This book is perfect for Biblical fiction fans as well as drama or historical fiction fans. I think this book is perfect for adult and maybe really mature teenagers. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Wake Up, Generation

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Title: Wake Up, Generation
Author: Paige Omartian
Publisher: Harvest House
Published: August 1, 2012
Pages: 224

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After a life-threatening battle with cancer at 10, Paige Omartian was compelled to live her life the way God wanted, even if it means she goes into a risky career. Now, with a new appreciation for life, she is compelled to show other young people how precious their lives are and how important they are to God. This is her calling, now it’s time to find yours.

Apathy has become a growing epidemic an has caused many people to sleepwalk through life. They don’t realize that their dreams, mission, and identity are at stake. If you want to be one of the few who want to live their to the fullest and fulfill their ultimate calling, then join Paige Omartian as she shows you why coasting through life can be more dangerous then following your calling.

Follow Paige as she explores the apathy that has taken root in our young people’s minds. She also tells stories from friends and influential people. Stories that are both good and bad and really make you think about what you want. This generation has been asleep for way too long and if your still breathing then there’s a reason you’re still here. You just have to let God lead to that reason.

Do these question scare you? What is my purpose? Who was I created to be? What can I possibly do to make a difference in this world? What does God want me to do? Why should I do anything? Do you want to live your life outside the complacency that too many people have? If so read this book and break the chain of apathy that has taken hold.
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I heard Paige’s story a few years ago and was amazed. A little girl and her life-threatening fight with cancer. Now she’s back and this energetic and inspiring 21 year old is determined to show teens and young adults that their life is worth more than what we’ve been led to believe and chosen to believe all these years and she did it well. The Lord is going to do great things through this young woman.

Normally when you read books like this, the author is usually in their late thirties early forties minimum and I think that this book and the subject matter came great from someone IN the projected audience. Because she’s a young adult too, she knows how we think and what we want out of life and that makes this book great. This book was well written and absolutely perfect for any person under the age of 25. It truly inspired you to do it God’s way even if it’s risky and unconventional.

I think my favorite part of this book was the conglomeration of stories, including Paige’s. I loved each story whether it was sad, anger inducing, or joyfully inspiring. I also loved how the stories were set up. They reinforced the point she was trying to driving home and it made me want to live my life God’s way more than if she hasn’t put in the stories. I loved the stories and what they did for the book.

This book really makes you think and question whether or not you’re living your life and whether you’re following God’s plan for it. I think this is the perfect book for teens and people up to 25. This book inspires teens to turn to God and follow His plan. I think that’s something everyone especially a younger person who doesn’t know what they want to do or be.

Paige Omartian may not be older and may not have a ton of experience but he knows how to reach the young generation and teach them how to be who they were meant to be. I don’t know whether this author intends to write more anytime soon but if she does sign me up because she knows how to communicate with young adults because she is one.

Overall, this is an amazing book for teens and young adults who want a new outlook on life and how to live it. This book is perfect for teens and adults. I highly recommend this one. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*