Book Recommendation ~ Diamonds in the Dust by Shirley Mowat Tucker

Book Description:

Straight out of South Africa comes the poignant tale of Ida Morgan: her husband murdered, abandoned by God, and alone in the world. Ida’s road to healing and wholeness is paved by diamonds in the dust.

Author Shirley Mowat Tucker is a native South African who, through the eyes of Ida Morgan, leads the reader into her country’s secret places… places where there are still wicked men doing wicked things… places where the innocent and defenseless are preyed upon… places drenched in the same bitterness and grief that Ida Morgan now understands first hand.

Narelle’s Thoughts: 

Widowed and childless, Ida Morgan lives in her secure and comfortable home and struggles to rebuild her life after her husband’s brutal murder a few years earlier. She rescues a young girl from a plastic garbage bin floating in a swollen river and begins a life changing adventure that will challenge her attitude and beliefs concerning the plight of orphaned children.

A fast paced story ensues with a cast of characters who pulled at my heart strings and drew me into their incredible story of survival and hope against unspeakable evil and danger. The social fabric of South African society is exposed and the characters are inspired to leave their comfort zone and take action to right some of the wrongs in their community.

Diamonds in the Dust is a beautifully plotted page turner that I couldn’t put down and read within twenty-four hours. A captivating and honest story of forgiveness and redemption, I recommend this book to those looking for a compelling and thought provoking story that tackles tough social issues.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation ~ Unlocked: A Love Story by Karen Kingsbury

Book Description:

Before You Take a Stand … You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal—on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the ‘in’ crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him … the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery—she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden’s praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this inspiring story. We gain an insight into Holden’s world and how his autism, which significantly limits his communication, impacts his family. It also highlights the lack of understanding of Holden’s peers when he is in a mainstream school environment. And offers a sad reflection of human nature when the kids who supposedly have everything feel the need to belittle and bully kids who are unable to defend themselves.

The author’s reader letter provides us with the background on the real life story of a young autistic boy who inspired this story. Ella is a courageous teen who isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right and be a voice for those less privileged than herself. I recommend this book to those looking for an encouraging story about how faith can lead to breakthroughs and healing in situations that seem dire and hopeless.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation ~ Red Ink by Kathi Macias

Book Description:

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—”Truth”—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu (“Lord Jesus”) and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets.

Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.

Narelle’s Thoughts: 

Red Ink is one of those books you will remember long after you finish reading. Zhen-Li’s story will stir your emotions as you journey with this courageous young woman who faces extreme persecution and pressure to recant her faith.

Kathi Macias has written an inspiring and challenging story. The true state of the hearts of the characters is exposed in an honest portrayal of the lengths people will go to achieve their selfish agendas. The power of intercessory prayer is masterfully shown as characters stand firm in the face of evil.

I highly recommend Red Ink to those looking for a story that will touch that place deep inside them and lead them to question how much suffering and hardship they would be prepared to endure when standing up for their beliefs.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation ~ Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer by Shirley Corder

Book Description:

Nothing can sap a person’s strength and hope quite like a cancer diagnosis–unless it is the energy-stealing chemotherapy and surgeries faced in the fight against cancer. But one can find hope and strength in the pages of Scripture and in the experience of someone who has been there. Strength Renewed is an encouraging devotional for those living in the valley of cancer. Meditations combine Scripture and stories from the author’s own experience and can be read in sequential order to move the reader through a typical cancer journey from diagnosis through treatment. Each devotion also stands on its own, so readers can go directly to the entry that speaks to their need. Each devotional includes a short prayer and a Scripture verse for encouragement.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

It seems like cancer is becoming more prevalent and, like most people, my life has been touched by the cancer diagnosis of friends and family members. I found this devotional book very inspiring and helpful in understanding the life changing journey for both the patient and their loved ones. The whole idea of receiving a cancer diagnosis is very scary, and Shirley provides honest and thought provoking insights gained from her experiences fifteen years ago.

Shirley drew strength from the Lord and held onto Biblical truths as she struggled through the good days and the bad days. The book contains ninety devotions that are easy to read and provide wisdom and encouragement from her real life experiences. She speaks with compassion as she shares her mistakes as well as her triumphs through the various stages of her journey to becoming a cancer survivor. I highly recommend this book to those who have received a cancer diagnosis or are looking to gain new insights into how they can support friends and family undergoing cancer treatment.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation: Jackson Jones – The Tale of a Boy, an Elf and a Very Stinky Fish

Book Description:

Sometimes you have to get lost to figure out where you’re going. All Jackson wants is to be the hero, just for once in his life. The hero who steps in at the last minute to save the universe. The hero who saves the entire village from a raging fire. Great Aunt Harriett is always telling him find his own story, but so far his story doesn’t seem very exciting. Until he falls into Great Aunt Harriett’s hair, that is. There Jackson will encounter a world of elves, trap doors, bubblegum-blowing birds, hairy-backed spiders, kangaroo meat, and perilous danger which requires … a hero.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading this book and I asked my daughter to provide her thoughts on the story.

Jackson Jones is a good book because it has got a lot of imagination in it. It has lots of cool but weird things like: elfs, stinky fish, beet risotto, and bean burgers. And other things. Jackson Jones is a funny book because Jackson falls into Great Aunt Harriett’s hair and has the most exciting adventure ever. I can’t wait to read Book 2!”

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation ~ Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Book Description:

California’s gold country, 1850. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. What she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance, her heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. So Angel runs. Back to the darkness… A powerful retelling of the book of Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love. A page-turner.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I love this book, and I’ve read it more than once. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is an award winning historical romance that has featured on Christian fiction bestseller lists for years. Francine’s writing is both beautiful and powerful as her characters retell the little known Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. If you’ve never read Christian fiction and like reading romance, I highly recommend you start by reading Redeeming Love.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation ~ Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith

Book Description:

Bathsheba is a woman who longs for love. With her devout husband away fighting the king’s wars for many months at a time, discontent and loneliness dog her steps–and make it frighteningly easy to succumb to King David’s charm and attention. Though she immediately regrets her involvement with the powerful king, the pieces are set in motion that will destroy everything she holds dear. Can she find forgiveness at the feet of the Almighty? Or has her sin separated her from God–and David–forever?

With a historian’s sharp eye for detail and a novelist’s creative spirit, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the passionate and emotional story of David’s most famous–and infamous–wife. Smith uses her gentle hand to draw out the humanity in her characters, allowing readers to see themselves in the three-dimensional lives and minds of people who are often viewed in starkly moralistic terms. You will never read the story of David and Bathsheba in the same way again.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Jill Eileen Smith’s fictionalised account of Bathsheba’s story. The story opens with Bathsheba’s struggle to overcome loneliness and disappointment over not providing an heir for her husband, Uriah. Uriah was one of King David’s mighty men who was often away at war, and Bathsheba didn’t have children to distract her from missing her absent warrior husband. We journey with Bathsheba as she makes choices that will ultimately have devastating and deadly consequences.

We also gain an insight into both King David and Bathsheba’s faith and relationship with God. We meet two people who, despite loving the Lord, are human and flawed like the rest of us. I recommend this book to those looking for a fascinating and insightful Biblical fiction story.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com