When The Clouds Roll By

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Title: When The Clouds Roll By
Series: Till We Meet Again
Author: Myra Johnson
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Published: September 17, 2013
Pages: 352

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Annemarie Kendall, a potter, is ecstatic when the armistice is signed ending World War I. Her fiancée Lt. Gilbert Ballard can finally come home to Hot Springs, Arkansas and marry her. If only his letters made it seem like he wanted to. So, Annemarie isn’t surprised, but still hurt, when Gilbert ends their engagement. Now Annemarie has to try and become who God wants her to be and try and save Gilbert while managing to save her heart from his friend.

Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary has befriended Gilbert to try and uplift his spirits. When, Gilbert breaks it off with Annemarie, Sam tries to convince him he’s making a mistake but he can’t deny that he feels an attraction for her too. But tormented by his decisions and his mistakes and the memories of war, he doesn’t feel worthy for love by Annemarie or God, let alone grace and he needs Annemarie to show him that he does deserve it.

Caught in the middle and confused, Annemarie must make a choice which man she will give her heart to. She also tries to save two men from themselves and it seems like she’s drowning. With Sam and Gilbert’s relationship destroyed over her and her heart broken by Gilbert, all three of them must try and put the war behind them and cling to the only One who can make things okay, God.

Who will Annemarie choose? Will Gilbert change his mind about Annemarie or will he never regret his decision to give her up? Will Sam fall in love with Annemarie despite his attempt to not or will his attempt be successful? Will Sam be able to leave his demons behind and trust in God or will he be tormented do the rest of his life? Will Gilbert be able to be a peace with his circumstances or will he become bitter and spiral downhill?
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Before this one, I had never read a book by Myra Johnson before and, after reason this book, I’m not sure why. I do know, though, that I loved this book and was surprised at the amount of drama and how emotionally charged it was. I’ve never read a love triangle this dramatic before, shockingly. Myra Johnson definitely captured how I imagine a love triangle would play out.

The romance in this book is kind of fast. Though I enjoyed it, there seemed to be something missing, maybe it’s the doubt both of them feel about their feelings or maybe it’s because of the slight lack of deep emotional connections. However, I do think that despite that it was a nice romance and had some very romantic moments that made me go, “aahh”. This romance wasn’t awful or even bad it just wasn’t the best I’ve ever read.

This story is very emotionally driven. It’s full of tears, anger, love, pain, and forgiveness. It really got your emotions involved whether it be pity, empathy, love, joy. I really had strong feelings towards a few characters in this story and because of that I would love to see Mary and Gilbert again in the next book and hopefully see a resolution to their issues and maybe a romance between them? This story was definitely a heart tugged and engaged me front he beginning.

The characters in this story had son real issues to work through during the course of this book. Particularly Sam and Gilbert. Some characters seemed a bit stuff and cardboard-like and had to figure out but the usually weren’t very important to the story and didn’t hurt the story too much. Annemarie’s struggles seemed realistic to me. I mean if I started falling for a guys weeks after I got dumped I question my feelings too. I think the struggles the characters went through were realistic and heart-rending.

Myra Johnson definitely made me a fan. Though this book wasn’t perfect, it was enjoyable and I did enjoy this read. In fact I devoured it and didn’t want to put it down. I don’t know how many books this author has but I intend to see if I can get my hands on any of them. I think this author has a great flair for drama and great storytelling abilities. This book comes highly recommended by me.

Overall, I loved this book though it did have some hitches. I enjoyed how realistic and gritty it was and watching each character coming to the realization that God loves them just as they are. This book is perfect for fans of love triangles, dramas, or WWI novels. This is best left to the adults. I give this book a four out of five.

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

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Love’s Awakening

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Title: Love’s Reckoning
Series: The Ballantyne Legacy
Author: Laura Frantz
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 17, 2013
Pages: 416

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Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school in the spring of 1822 and returns to her family home in Pittsburgh. When she arrives home, she finds that her parents are away and her siblings don’t seem like they want her around. Determined to stay as find her place in the world, Ellie opens a day school for young ladies. She has no idea what her school will lead to or how it will effect her future.

Jack Turlock isn’t glad about the sea of his sister going to a day school, in fact he’s out right opposed to it, especially with the school being run by none other than Ellie Ballantyne. With slaveholder a and whiskey magnates as a calling card, Jack knows that Ellie could never be involved with someone like him. His father is a sworn enemy of Silas Ballantyne and is envious of his power and suspicious of his abolitionist leanings. If only Jack could stop thinking about something that will never be.

When Ellie gets the opportunity to teach Jack’s little sister she takes it, not knowing how involved with the Turlocks she will become or how attached to Jack she will get. When life seems to try and rip them apart Ellie must make a critical decision to either pick her family or cross enemy lines and side with the enemy, Jack. Jack must also realize that the way that works is God’s way and must find a way to break the chains of his father’s past.

Can Ellie find her place in life or will she be lost and alone forever? Will Jack be able to realize that he isn’t his father or will he carry his guilt to his grave? Can Ellie fall in love with Jack and still keep her family or will she have to choose one or the other? Can Jack find God or will it be over before he has the chance? What will Ellie’s parent’s think when they find out about Ellie’s love for Jack?
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After reading Love’s Reckoning I knew that I would have to read the next in this series and that it would be even better than the first. I was right. This book tugged on heart strings and actually made me cry! I can’t believe the emotions that were packed into this book and the tender yet passionate romance that wrapped around it. I was captivated yet again by the craftsmanship of Laura Frantz and I absolutely can’t wait for Fall 2014 to read the next book in the series.

The romance in this novel was one of the best I’ve read. It combined an emotional connection and some passionate moments and just made the romance seem realistic, heart-tugging, and beautiful. The romance in this book was similar to the first in the sense of theme. They both were about forbidden love, which for some reason captivates and moves us all. I can’t believe how well this romance was put together.

The storyline was impeccable. I got caught up in the story and was disappointed when it was over. It was full of intrigue and suspense, not to mention the awesome romance. It also gave a glimpse into the lives of those that smuggle slaves out of danger. I learned a lot and felt emotions that I very rarely feel from a book and I loved it so much. I absolutely have to read more from Laura Frantz!

The thing I liked most about this book was Ellie. Her character is rich and has always been, has gone to finishing school, and has every extravagance known to man yet she’s a very down to earth character and I loved her. She never came across as spoiled and I never once felt like she felt better than anyone. Because of that her character was very much a lovable character to me and I felt that she had amazing character development and was a strong character despite her appearance.

Laura Frantz captured me again! I’m shocked at how well she put together tis book and got my emotions involved. Any book deserves a great rating if it can make me cry. That’s a fear not many have accomplished. Laura’s impeccable storytelling skills and understanding of human emotion made me never want to put tis book down. This book, series, and author come very highly recommended.

Overall, I loved this book! I don’t even have any complaints about it. I wouldn’t change a thing. Tis book is perfect for someone who wants a historical fiction romance about forbidden love. This book is best left to adults. My rating of this book is five out of five.

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

What Once Was Lost

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Title: What Once Was Lost
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Published: September 17, 2013
Pages: 352

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Christina Willems life is about serving. She Lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals on a small Kansas farm. Her charges count on her leadership and have come to see Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out and makes their home unlivable, Christina must scramble to find shelter for all her charges, scattering her “family”.

Levi Jonnson is a mill owner and a notorious recluse. So when he is approached about taking in Tommy Kilgore, a young blind boy, he doesn’t want to, but reluctantly agrees with the stipulation that she find somewhere else for him to stay. However, Levi is surprised at the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. He’s also surprised at his new reluctance to go back to being a hermit.

With with repairs stopped by obstacle after obstacle, Christina wonders if she can finish the mission that she dedicated her life to. And when an old adversary shows up, Christina needs help, so she turns to Levi, hoping that he will help her. Levi is trying to stay aloof but Christina and Tommy are making it very difficult to keep his lifestyle and maybe that’s just what he needs.

Can Christina repair the poor house before she loses all of her charges or will they lose hope and leave before it’s finished? Can Levi hold onto his reclusive lifestyle or will he give it up for a blind boy and a selfless woman? Will Levi help Christina when she needs it or will he leave her hanging in the wind? What will happen because of one tragedy and a blind boy with no home? Will love blossom?
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Kim Vogel Sawyer has been a favorite of mine for years. I actually started reading her books and haven’t had the opportunity to read a novel by her in quite some time. Because of that, I jumped at the chance to read this one and I must say that this novel reminded me why I love her writing so much. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to review this one and got to get reacquainted with one of my all time favorite authors.

This story was by far my favorite by this author. I got dragged in so completely that I devoured this book and was sad to put it down. The thing I loved most about the story was the gritty and realistic feeling throughout it. I never once felt that something was unrealistic or implausible. The author’s descriptions and amazing character development kept this story at a good pace and made my mind’s eye go crazy with color and feelings. I loved this storyline so much!

The characters were awesome. I felt that they were well developed and likable, a hard quality to find as of late. I also felt that their fears and feelings made a ton of sense and I could see myself being the same way in their situation. I also liked the wide range of characters that were there. There was the snooty one, the sullen one, the chipper ones, and the spiritual ones and it pieced together book and made it well rounded.

The only real complaint I have is about the romance. Their wasn’t much of it as there wasn’t much contact between Levi and Christina and what little contact they had wasn’t intimate in any sense. However, what little romance I saw was awesome and typical of this author. Surprisingly though, even with the lack of romance I still love this book and completely fell for the character. Enough to even ask for a sequel to this one. (Please?!)

This author captured my heart with Waiting For Summer’s Return and recaptured it with this one. I can’t wait to see what else she has for me and I can’t believe I’ve gone as long as I have without a dose of her books. It can’t happen again. I absolutely recommend this book and author and I definitely think this book belongs up on the “favorites” shelf and is definitely worth rereading.

Overall, I felt it could use more romance but despite that I loved this book and highly recommend it. This book is perfect who like historical fiction and like it a bit different. I think this book is good for teens and adults. I give this book a four 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.*

The Invention Of Sarah Cummings

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Title: The Invention Of Sarah Cummings
Series: Avenue Of Dreams
Author: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 15, 2013
Pages: 304

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Sarah Cummings has one goal in life – to break free from her job as a maid and be part of Chicago’s high society. She’s desperate to stop serving dinner to members of the wealthy Banning family and to start being served. In her free time, meager though it is, she alters cast-off gowns to create the perfect wardrobe for her future life. So when opportunity knocks Serena Cuthbert is born.

Simon Tewell is director of St. Andrea’s Orphanage and knows Sarah from her past as an orphan who loved there. Simon wants to get Sarah involved in working inside the walls of he former home, but Sarah’s reluctance to do so baffles him. He finds her interesting and and wants to possibly pursue something with her, but she doesn’t seem interested, making him think it might be best to just leave her alone. But for some reason, he can’t.

As Sarah juggles being a maid and Serena and her full social calendar, she can’t seem to get Simon out of her head, even though he’s everything she wants to avoid in her life. With two men pursuing her, Sarah must decide which life she wants and what is worth more to her. Her lies and duplicity can only be juggled for so long before everything crashes around her, but will she be standing on top or crushed underneath her lies when that happens.

Can Sarah have the life she always dreamed of or is the cost of it too much for her? Can Simon show Sarah that life doesn’t mean fancy things or will he lose to shiny and sparkly things? Will Sarah realize that her drive to be rich and famous might be the ruin of her or will she crumble in the wind? What will Sarah decide to do with her life? Who will she choose and what life will she have?
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The sorry of Sarah Cummings was one I was greatly looking forward to. After seeing her in Charlotte Farrow’s story and seeing her attitude towards service, I desired to see her change into a character I could love or at least understand her. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the opportunity to see that. Sarah Cummings’ story was a great disappointment for me because the entire time I tried to read this book, all I felt for her was dislike. This definitely wasn’t the best I’ve seen from this author.

The romance in this book doesn’t fully exist nor does it make a lot of sense. Simon is interested in Sarah even though she snubs her nose up at everything he holds dear and ignores him. Sarah is chasing a dream that will never come true because it’s built on a lie and completely ignores the best man to come into her life. The whole thing is confusing and the whole time I was wondering what Simon saw in Sarah because I sure didn’t see anything. Not to mention that Sarah has a mild interest until the end and then all of a sudden she loves him? I’m so confused with this one.

Sarah wasn’t a lovable character to me. She risked everything and hurt a lot of people all so she could have a chance at being rich. I didn’t like how she felt she was too good to serve and deserved to be served instead. I didn’t see any dramatic improvement to these qualities as the story progressed. I was disappointed with the lack of conversion and humility that Sarah showed and overall just thought she was an uppity and unlikable character.

The storyline was a good idea but not the execution. I felt that the author should’ve focused more on the real romance and the alterations to her character than the parties and fake lifestyle Sarah crafted for herself. I was gravely disappointed in this book and didn’t feel like this was the best ending to this otherwise good series. This storyline definitely wasn’t a hit with me and I don’t think I’ll ever read it again.

Though I appreciate this author’s work and so far have enjoyed her work, this book didn’t really strike a chord with me not did it make me like Sarah any more with this novel. This author captured me with Charlotte Farrow’s story but Sarah Cummings’ fell short for me. I intend to read more from this author because I know she can do better. This author but not this book come recommended.

Overall, I didn’t like this book much. I didn’t feel a connection to Sarah at all and just plain didn’t like her character or her character development. This book is good for those looking to finish up the series. I don’t recommend this for anyone other than adults. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

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

Dangerous Passage

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Title: Dangerous Passage
Series: Southern Crimes
Author: Lisa Harris
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 1, 2013
Pages: 320

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Avery North, detective and behavioral specialist for the Atlanta Police Department, is on the hunt for what she believes to be serial killer when she finds two Jane Does with something in common, a magnolia tattoo in their shoulders. If these two deaths are connected, Avery knows she only has a limited window before her killer strikes again and she’s determined to catch him before he gets another girl.

Jackson Bryant, a medical examiner, teams up with her to stop a killer. Finding anything substantial seems unlikely, but when he finds an interesting clue it might just crack this case wide open and possibly uncover something even more sinister than a death. But Jackson becomes even more determined to take down the criminal when he tries to scare off Avery from the case.

As Avery struggles with taking on yet another responsibility that will stretch her even more thin, a relationship with Jackson, Jackson is trying to show her that what they have is worth the risk and strain. But with them close to discovering what’s behind this death and the connection it holds to a rich neighborhood, their relationship will have to take a backseat. At least until they catch their killer.

Can Avery catch what might be a serial killer or will she have to investigate yet another murder? What will they discover as they dig deeper into the dark side of Atlanta? Will Avery be scared off by a threat or will she be even more determined to go after her criminal? Can Jackson convince Avery to give him a chance or will she just deny him? Can Avery and Jackson catch a killer before another person ends up dead or will someone else die at the clutches of evil?
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Lisa Harris has captivated me with this one. Though it’s not perfect, I still enjoyed this book. It had a very relevant topic that had a different method, so to speak, and I wasn’t aware it was even about that topic until I dug further into this unique story. Mrs. Harris has made it so that I have to read more and conclude this cliffhanger series. I had no idea what I was getting into with this story but I’m glad I started it.

The romance in this book takes a bit of a backseat to the suspense and I didn’t mind at all. In fact, it seemed to fit the story fairly well and has a promising future in the next few books of this series. I loved how supportive Jackson was and how he completely made me reevaluate what my perception of what a medical examiner was like. I look forward to seeing how this romance concludes in books to come.

The suspense in this book is a very interesting combination of secrets and reality. I loved how this author was able to make this book suspenseful not on how fast paced it was, though it was that, but by the subject matter. It plays on your heart strings and makes your heart hurt for the injustices that are taken place to these women and that is what the main felling of the book is, at least for me. I loved this suspense even though I would’ve liked to have seen Avery’s behavioral specialist skills utilized more in the book.

This story is a huge mixture of emotions and feelings. Not to mention there is a plethora of things that can be in the next book. It even ends on a cliffhanger that isn’t huge but enough for you to be dying to know how it ends. I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers and I always seem to pick them, but I look forward to seeing how the cliffhanger is resolved in the next book and whether that one will end on a cliffhanger too.

This author captivated me with this book and I look forward to seeing what else she can come up with for the next one. This book touched a very sensitive and touchy topic that isn’t really talked about and I would love to see another one similar to it at least in the sense of it’s something we try not to think about. I loved that this author wasn’t afraid to go “there” and can’t to see if she will again.

Overall, I was captivated by this book and despite the lack of behavioral specialism used and the use of a cliffhanger I truly enjoyed this take on a very real topic. This book is perfect for those who want a different kind of suspense novel. This book is best left to the adults. 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.*

The Promise

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Title: The Promise
Series: The Restoration
Author: Gary Smalley and Dan Walsh
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 1, 2013
Pages: 304

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Tom Anderson lost his job five months ago and hasn’t told anyone, not even his wife. He leaves each morning pretending nothing has changed and spends his days in coffee shops and bookstores job hunting. The stress of keeping his unemployment a secret is pushing him and his wife apart and putting his marriage in danger. Tom is going to tell her after he finds a job, if his marriage lasts that long.

Jean Anderson knows something is wrong with her husband. He’s been coming home angry and bitter for months now and he doesn’t want to talk to her about anything anymore and it’s scaring her. With the chasm growing between her and her husband, she begins to suspect that her deepest fears might be a reality and she has no idea what to do about it.

When Jean goes to the doctor, she realizes just what has her husband so frugal and it makes he think about what he has done with his day all these months. It’s up to Tom to prove to her that he hasn’t done anything but lie and that it’s her he loves. With his marriage on the line, Tom must really evaluate his life, marriage, and his goals in life. Also, he must realize why he kept his secret for so long and try and make it up to Jean.

Can Tom win back Jean after a five month long lie or will he lose her forever? Can Jean forgive Tom for his lie or will she leave him despite his pleas? Will Jean believe Tom when he says he hasn’t cheated or will she believe her fears instead? Will Tom’s reasons for keeping his secret be confronted and conquered or just buried for another time?
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The first book in this series wasn’t very relatable to me because of the wide age gap between myself and the main characters. This book is a tad different. Though there is still that wide age gap, it’s much smaller and Tom’s story was much more relatable to me. I was able to see bits and pieces of my childhood amidst the memories of the characters and that definitely made me be able to connect with this book more than the first.

First things first, I have to address Tom and his real reasoning for hiding his unemployment. I won’t give to much away but I will say this, though his method was extreme, the reasons he kept his unemployment a secret made quite a bit of sense and seemed like something someone would do if they didn’t want to disappoint someone who had put a lot of pressure on them. Though I wouldn’t be able to keep a secret that big for that long, I can understand his reasoning and understand the desire to not disappoint someone you love.

The storyline is interesting and, though it’s not very fast paced, engaging if the topic is relatable to you. There were times I had a hard time keeping my attention on the book, but that might be because I’m not married and am not very knowledgable about marriages, so I might not be a very good judge of this book as far as pacing goes. However, one thing I can’t deny and see despite my lack of marriage experience, is that the marriage advice and images on how to heal a breaking marriage were spot on and very helpful for me for the future.

My favorite part of this entire book was seeing the transformation of all The marriages in this book once they put the Lord first in their marriages and lives. The transformation was into something I rarely see anymore and it gives me great hope that marriages don’t have to be this awful institution that many make it seem. This book portrays marriages as work and sacrifice and love and trust and I felt that that was very accurate and gave me a realistic view as to what marriage entails.

I’ve been reading Dan Walsh’s books for a while now and his storytelling ability never ceases to amaze me. That’s why I keep coming back for more from him. Dan’s coauthor is another story. I haven’t read much by him. My fourth book by him, all fiction, but all of those books have one thing in common, they either show what a marriage that revolves around Christ looks like or how to fix a marriage at its breaking point and I love seeing that. Both authors are amazing at what they do and both authors and this book come highly recommended.

Overall, a great book about fixing a marriage. The pace for me got a bit slow at times, but in general, I liked the pacing. This is great for people who want a great story about marriage or want to figure out how to fix a marriage in fiction form. Keep your kids away from this one but it’s great for adults. 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.*

The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer and He Knows Your Name

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Title: The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer
Author: Michael W. Smith with Tom Williams
Publisher: Worthy Press
Published: July 2, 2013
Pages: 128

Title: He Knows Your Name
Author: Travis Cottrell
Publisher: Worthy Press
Published: July 2, 2013
Pages: 160

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In these two books, discover the power of prayer, how the joy of God’s transformation can truly change the world, and how to trust and worship God in the even the darkest of moments in your life. Each book delves into a different topic each just as important and helpful to any Christian’s life and walk. They help you follow and surrender.

Join two award winning recording artists as they teach all that they’ve learned in their travels and walks not only as musicians, but most importantly, as Christians. In their books they explain what The Lord has taught them and what He can teach you. Their wisdom is inspired and is guaranteed to teach you some things about God and your relationship with Him.
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Because I got these two books as a group and because they’re both small gift books, I decided to clump together both reviews into one.

I got these two books because they are different than what I normally read and I’m glad that I got the chance and that I accepted them. The reason I really got them was because of the authors, however I didn’t expect to get the large dose of wisdom and advice from each one. Michael W. Smith’s book had a lot of good stories and wisdom about prayer and encouraging those around you and Travis Cottrell’s book was chock full of what to do when times seem like they’ll never get better. Both had content that I really needed to hear and incorporate in my spiritual walk.

The stories in each book tugged on heart strings and showed the kind of faith that we all want. Mostly those stories made me want to do exactly what they were suggesting and I was amazed at how much faith some of them had. Also, the stories also made me view some points at different angles and opened my eyes to a different way of thinking about something. It was amazing.

The best part of both, though was the teachings. Each said things that hit home in many ways. Even if I’ve already heard something similar before, the way they put it made me get it in a whole new way. Both definitely followed the Lord’s calling and their books are definitely something He put on their hearts to do. Despite their size neither of these books feel rushed or empty and I really learned something from each. I would like to maybe see them be expanded, though.

These books really make you dig deep inside and evaluate your relationship with Christ and help you possibly have a stronger relationship with your Creator. I’m in love with these books and I highly recommend them. I look forward to seeing what else each recording artist has for the future, book wise. I fully intend to read more from each of them.

Overall, I loved both of these and fully intend to read more from each. These are great for anyone looking to improve their relationship with Christ. This book is best for adults but discerning teens can benefit from these books. I give both of these books five out of five.

Even though this is a joint book review, they’re pretty small and I ran out of things to say so I’m going to cut this one short.

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