Book Review: Abiding Mercy

Abiding Mercy begins 15 years ago in a grocery store in Michigan. Wealthy Roslyn Colepepper is knocked unconscious after grocery shopping (an errand typically run by the nanny), and her 18 month old daughter Adriana is abducted.

The next chapter begins in the Amish country of Northern Michigan and introduces us to Faith Pinkham. Faith is a 16 year old Amish girl who is counting down the days until she can be baptized into her Amish community, and hopefully settle down with a nice Amish boy and start a family.

Faith is content with her life. She works at the restaurant her parents own, The Amish Table, and enjoys fishing, gardening, and church functions. One rainy evening, however, she receives word that her parents have been involved in a buggy accident, and have been injured. Aside from concern over her parent’s injuries, she is required to help even more with the restaurant. Gideon has also started to volunteer in the restaurant duties, so the two of them begin spending a lot of time together and want to begin courting once Faith is baptized.

One day during a church function, however, Faith’s life is completely turned upside down, as she learns about the abducted Adriana and begins to question everything and everyone she’s ever known. Who is she? Where does she belong? Can she ever trust her friends and family again?

I enjoyed Abiding Mercy. I liked how we were following two stories at the same time–the past story of Adriana meeting up with the present story of Faith. It also gave a lot of opportunities for deep thought…how would you react if you were Faith? The parents of the abducted child? The Amish parents of Faith? Gideon? The ending seemed a little hasty, but it was satisfying. Hopefully there will be a sequel, though. I would love to learn how Faith reconciles her past and future.

*I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and the publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

 

 

Book Review: Beloved Hope

Beloved Hope is the second book in Tracie Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier series. (See my review of book one, Treasured Grace).

This second book follows Hope, the middle sister of the three Flanagan girls who survived the Cayuse Massacre at the Whitman Mission in late 1847 (this story is told in book 1). Beloved Hope opens in May 1850, as Hope is wrestling with the memories of the massacre and subsequent captivity because she has been asked to testify in the trial against the Cayuse who were responsible for the deadly attack. At the mission, not only was Hope’s beau John Sager (an actual historical figure) murdered, but she was taken advantage of multiple times during the captivity.

In the two years that has passed, Hope has maintained bitterness and unforgiveness against Tomahas-the Cayuse who stole her innocence–and wants nothing but revenge. She has closed herself to friendships and other relationships, and is convinced that she is no longer capable of loving or being loved.

Army Lieutenant Lance Kenner is stationed in the Oregon City area and has been assigned to keep order during the Cayuse Trial. He meets Hope when the young woman goes to the prison where Tomahas and the other braves are being held with a gun in an attempt to kill Tomahas herself. He is intrigued by this fiery young woman, but Hope has made it very clear that she wants no part in a relationship.

Meanwhile, Lance is struggling with his own feelings of resentment and unforgiveness, and he is stunned to learn that someone close to Hope has ties to the man who killed Lance’s brother. Can Hope and Lance push aside the pain of the past and open themselves up enough to be loved? Or will their bitterness stand in the way of true happiness?

I liked this book quite a bit–it was not nearly as sad as the first book in the series, and instead focusing on hope, second chances, and forgiveness. I enjoyed getting to know Hope, rejoicing with Alex and Grace as Grace as she prepares to give birth to their first child, and watching Mercy mature into a lovely young woman. In fact, I am looking forward to the next book in the series, which I assume will follow Mercy.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Bible Review: Kids Visual Study Bible

9780310758600, NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible, Hardcover, Full Color Interior : Explore the Story of the Bible—People, Places, and HistoryMy daughter is almost 9, so she is ready for a “meatier” Bible, with deeper study notes but she still loves the fun little inserts and bright colors of the younger kid’s Bibles. I was really intrigued with the Kids Visual Study Bible, because it seemed to have the best of both worlds. The Bible, in the NIV translation, is a study Bible that is also chock full of color illustrations and photos, maps, and cultural details of Bible times.

The side 1/3 of each page in this Bible yellow, and includes study notes written for kids to get a better understanding of the verses. The inner 2/3 of each page is the actual Scripture. The visuals in this Bible are great…it includes many lists, timelines, references, and charts and gives a clearer understanding of Bible stories.

My daughter and I were both equally impressed with this Bible. I tend to prefer the NKJV in general, but with the amount of information and commentary this Bible had, it didn’t bother me too much that it was an NIV. Just flipping through it, I really enjoyed the commentary, which gave good information at a child’s level without being too simplistic. The maps and illustrations really helped to bring the Bible alive too. My only minor complaint is that there is no verse index in the back to search for a verse using a specific word. That would have been helpful, but again, this book is well worth it for a child who has outgrown the kiddie Bibles but still wants some colorful features.

*I received a copy of this Bible from Zondervan Publishing and BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Cookbook Review: Food52 Mighty Salads

Like most Americans, I try to eat healthy. I try. I really do. But healthy food has such a bad reputation for being boring and bland. I do love a good salad, however, but it seems like even with the blank canvas of a salad I run into a creative wall and get bored easily.

Luckily, the cookbook and website authors over at Food52 have given us a new cookbook to help with that rut, entitled Mighty Salads: 60 New Ways to Turn Salad into Dinner”. The title is self-explanatory–getting creative with salads to make them more appealing to eat on a regular basis. Think beyond lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese topped with ranch. This cookbook goes way out there and even challenges the definition of a “salad”.

Many of the recipes in Mighty Salads don’t even include lettuce…things like:
-Charred Broccoli and Lentil Salad
-Toasted Farro and Asparagus Salad
-Coconut Rice Salad with Mango, Bell Pepper, and Lime
-Charred Okra Succotash Salad
-Grilled Lobster Salad with Lemon-Thyme Butter
-Grilled Mushroom and Fig Salad

There are 60 Main Dish Salad recipes, as well as many tips, techniques, and dressing recipes along the way. Some of the dressings (because we all know the dressing makes the salad) include:
-Parmesan Vinaigrette
-Lime Vinaigrette
-Phuong’s Peanut Sauce
-Lime Sriracha Dressing
-Creamy Ginger Dressing

Like all the Food52 Cookbooks I’ve read, Mighty Salads continues to push the envelope with innovative recipes and techniques. I thought the photos in this cookbook were outstanding, and the recipes were outside-the-box in a (mostly) good way. This cookbook has shown me that salad doesn’t have to be boring, and that it can be truly satisfying to eat healthy.

*I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook from the publisher and Blogging For Books. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Bible Sleuth-New Testament

My kids love puzzle books. They also love reading about the Bible. So I knew that Bible Sleuth: New Testament was going to be a hit in our house. Bible Sleuth is basically a Bible themed version of Where’s Waldo. The book has 14 full spread scenes from New Testament stores, along with about 8 different objects or characters to find in the spread. Just like Where’s Waldo, the scenes include a variety of people and happenings, many of which look alike, so the puzzles are actually a bit challenging. I think this is a good book for 7-12 year old range. My 5 year old got too frustrated, but my 8 year old enjoyed it, though she couldn’t always find everything on the pages.

Some of the scenes include: The Birth of Jesus, The Wedding at Cana, Jesus Clears the Temple, Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand, and The Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Each scene includes a verse about the scene, along with the Scripture reference for the Bible story.

Like I said, my kids did enjoy the book, but the only complaint I had was that the artwork wasn’t very crisp, so it wasn’t always easy to discern all the hidden pictures from similar looking items. Even I had a challenging time since many pictures look so similar. But, all in all, the kids enjoyed it, and it’s a fun little book to bring along on a road trip, plane flight, or even when sitting and waiting for an appointment, since it keeps them occupied for quite some time.

*I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way