A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

sparrow in Terezin cover

Sera James looks forward to marrying William Hanover, but when they are immersed in a legal battle immediately after their wedding, the life she’s dreamed of now becomes a nightmare she never anticipated. As she and William fight to clear his name, William’s refusal to open up to her about his past causes Sera even more concert. When she’s given some more life changing news, she’s determined to solve the mystery.

In 1939, Kàja Mokovsky flees Nazi-occupied Prague at her parents’ request with a promise in her heart that she will return to her beloved city some day. Working in London as a secretary at the Daily Telegraph, Kàja is thrown into the war during the London Blitz. When a report comes across her desk stating Jews are being killed by the thousands, she knows she must return to Prague to find her half-Jewish family.

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Kristy Cambron once again seamlessly combines the two stories throughout A Sparrow in Terezin. I enjoyed spending time with William, Sera, Penny, and Sophia again (from The Butterfly and the Violin) and the struggle between Sera and William is true-to-life (marriage still takes work after you say, “I do.”). While it took a little longer for the connection between the two stories to come together, once they did, there were two mysteries that held my interest through the end of the book. Cambron’s insight into the children in the concentration camps and ghettos is original and tugs on the heartstrings. While her stories are fiction, they are steeped in the real horrors and atrocities of the Nazi regime.
While heavy reading, I found myself crying a couple times during this one, The Sparrow in Terezin is steeped in hope—the hope of a happy future for the main characters. Cambron is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors, and I can’t wait to see what she shares with her readers next. You will definitely want to pick this one up (available everywhere April 7)

****Thoman Nelson Fiction (via NetGalley) provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own

On a Ring and a Prayer by Sandra D. Bricker

ring and a prayer

Jessie Stanton’s life as she knows it is over. When her husband of over a decade cancels her credit cards, sells their house out from under her, and cancels the lease on her BMW, Jessie is left shell shocked and without a way to support the elaborate lifestyle she’s become accustomed to. Her best friend suggests she hire a private investigator to find her husband. Danny Callahan is a laid back, easy going, detective who enjoys surfing and working with his hands—worlds apart from his newest client. In order to support herself (and pay for Danny’s investigative services), Jessie is forced to sell the one asset she has left—the ring on her left hand. Through trials and several divine circumstances, Jessie finds a way to stand on her own two feet, to become a woman who rises above her circumstances. With Danny’s support and friendship, she grows in strength, wisdom, and pluckiness.

Bricker’s cast of characters is lovable (even those who are questionable at first redeem themselves after a while). Between Jessie’s love of designer fashion, Danny’s enjoyment of the simple things and helping others, Rigg’s unique lifestyle, Amber’s excitement and ambition, and Piper’s friendship, I was disappointed when I reached the end of the book. The good news? There will be two more books. Which is a good thing because there were still a few unresolved items at the end of A Ring and a Prayer.

Find your copy at your local bookstore or order online today.

***Abingdon Press (via Netgalley) provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren

remnants book 2 cover

With the popularity of dystopian young adult novels, it isn’t a surprise that the genre has entered the Christian fiction market. I’ve read and enjoyed the trilogies: Hunger Games, Divergent, and Legend. What do you think it is about these books that draw people in? A young person bringing hope to a people? Someone rising above, taking a stand for what they believe is right? The action? In truth, it’s most likely a combination of these things.

I’ve known about Lisa T. Bergren’s Remnants series for a while. I even downloaded the first book on my Kindle a few months ago but my TBR pile is forever growing and I just hadn’t gotten to it. When I was given the opportunity to review the second book, I took it. It took three pages before I realized I needed to read the first book or I would be lost. After reading Season of Wonder, I was into the story and picked Season of Fire (book two) up immediately. Now the waiting begins for the final book in The Remnants Trilogy (sigh).

Andriana is a Remnant, a girl with the gift of empathy who has a high calling from the Maker. She and her knight, Ronan, have joined with other remnants (each with their own unique gift—healing, discernment, a seer) and knights to fight for the Maker’s glory. Ronan and Andriana have admitted they love each other but now have the struggle of riding themselves of that love because their enemy will use it against them. When Andriana is taken captive by Keallach (another remnant who has ignored his calling), she is challenged more than ever before. Separated from her friends and Ronan and determined to show Keallach the way back to the light, Andriana struggles with succumbing to his influence instead of swaying him to her side. Will she succumb to Sethos’s evil power or rely on the Maker to lead her through the darkness.

Unlike Season of Wonder, the second book in the trilogy gives the reader two points of view (both Andriana’s and Ronan’s while they are separated). This makes the book more rounded as the reader gets to follow both Andriana’s progress as well as her follow remnants. The story moves fast with a good balance of action and internal struggle throughout, and Bergren keeps you guessing as to which side Keallach truly belongs to. If you are looking for a good read for a teenager (or if you like YA books), this is a good choice with an uplifting, Christian message.

****Booklook Bloggers provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

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Meredyth Summercourt has known for six years what her future holds—marriage to Vance Everstone. Despite the fact that Vance has been out of the country for two years with no plans of returning, Meredyth is determined to make things right. And then Lawry Hampton, her best friend since childhood, kisses her, Meredyth’s future doesn’t feel so certain. With Lawry at her side, challenging her, comforting her, and listening to her, Meredyth realizes that she is in love with him, that she’s tired of pretending. But she doesn’t deserve him and she fights her attraction. Can Lawry’s love release her from her shame and guilt?

After reading The Hesitant Heiress, I felt like Meredyth and Lawry are already old friends of mine. It’s fun reading series because we get more depth into each character as they become the focus of a book. Meredyth wants to be noble and good but never believes she can achieve that so instead she sets her sights on atoning for her past. The additions of little orphan Wynn pulled on my heartstrings on more than one occasion (especially right before the wedding at the end). And Lawry’s persistence and consistency is sigh-worthy.

I think most people can relate to making a bad decision and living with the regret of that decision. Yes, some are more damaging than others but no one is perfect. Dawn Crandall excellently handles the topic of living with the regret and shame of a bad decision in The Bound Heart. Meredyth struggles with being worthy of the life she is living in the moment, being loved by Lawry Hampton. In the end, there is only one person who can release us from our past mistakes, and He is more than a man.

The Bound Heart (as well as the first book in the Everstone Chronicles) is available now. Book three is due out in April and you will definitely want to read these first.

Confessions of a Prodigal Son (DVD review)

Family Christian provided me with a copy of this DVD in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sometimes life gets so busy it’s necessary to plan some down time. I feel like my life has been run, run, run for a couple of months now. Work is swamped and I’ve always got several things vying for my attention when I’m not at the office. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I weren’t a single gal and had a family to care for on top of everything else I’ve got going on. Seriously, I am amazed at women who balance a career and family. Last Saturday I decided it was time for a movie night. About a year and half ago I turned off the television and it rarely gets turned on. Once in a while I’ll watch a movie but even that is sporadic. Lucky for me, I knew exactly which movie I was going to watch.

Confessions of a Prodigal Son
(available for pre-order now. Release date March 24)

movie night

Sean Matthews is living it up. It’s his second year of college—at the school of his choosing, not the one his parents hoped he’d attend. He’s out from under his parents’ thumb and in charge of his own life. No more unrealistic expectations, no more rules, no more pressure. His best friend enjoys the extracurricular college life—the girls, the parties. Then he attends his English class where the professor encourages the students to write their story over the course of the semester. When he meets Ali, a young lady who is on her own journey, Sean is interested in spending time with her. A bad decision comes back to bite Sean and his life changes in a blink of an eye (but you knew it was coming because of the title of the movie, right?). What does a young man do when the life he has enjoyed is pulled out from under him, when he’s alienated his own family and even his friends?

I may be dating myself here, but do you remember the old Thief in the Night movies? It was the 80s when I watched them. I have to say, I am so happy that the Christian movie industry isn’t still in this stage of film making (although, I do believe those Thief in the Night movies were made in the 70s so that may have something to do with the production quality). But seriously, with the recent success of movies like God’s Not Dead, Old Fashioned, and When the Game Stands Tall, movies with a Christian message have definitely gotten a boost in both production quality and acting.

That said, the acting can still be a little stilted and there were a few too many frames in this film with overuse of filters but the message is timeless. Are you ready for the message? You are loved and—no matter what decisions you make, no matter what you might have done to disappoint the people who love you in your life—you will always be loved. God loves you. He hurts when we turn away from him, but he will always welcome us back with open arms.

While I grew up a PK (preacher’s kid) like the main character in this movie, I never went through the rebellious streak like many PKs tend to experience. It’s probably because my parents weren’t really strict while I was growing up. My life was pretty boring, LOL. I usually preferred a good book to the latest Friday or Saturday night party. But I have made decisions I’m not proud of, decisions that have hurt people I loved so, in a way, I could relate to Sean and the chain of events that occur after his poor choices.

Confessions of a Prodigal Son is a film that would be excellent for families with teenagers to watch together and discuss afterward. It would also be a good choice for a youth group event. There is quite a bit of drinking and even some drugs at one point, so it may not be appropriate for smaller children.

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