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This little blog has moved over to the official AHeartSurrendered.com! Check it out; can't wait to see you there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Death by the Book {book review}

Drew Farthering wanted nothing more than to end the summer of 1932 with the announcement of his engagement. Instead, he finds himself caught up in another mysterious case when the family solicitor is found murdered, an antique hatpin with a cryptic message, Advice to Jack, piercing his chest.

Evidence of secret meetings and a young girl's tearful confession point to the victim's double life, but what does the solicitor's murder have to do with the murder of a physician on the local golf course? Nothing, it would seem--except for another puzzling note, affixed with a similar-looking bloodied hatpin.

Soon the police make an arrest in connection with the murders, but Drew isn't at all certain they have the right suspect in custody. And why does his investigation seem to be drawing him closer and closer to home?

(Summary by Amazon.com)

Oh. My.  I adored this book!  It was like a combination of the classic Sherlock Holmes and the more contemporary Radio Theatre drama series, Father Gilbert.  I enjoyed the classic, witty writing style, while the spiritual concepts woven through the story made it so much more than simply a thrilling tale.  The rush, the questions, curiosities, the mind bending drama with a little splash of romance thrown in--all to equal what could be considered the perfect mystery!

Even though this is the second book in a series, I had not read the first book and was able to easily understand this book as a stand alone.

Despite the nature of the story content, I found the violence and implied adult content to be very tastefully done.  I would not be afraid to let my 13-year-old brother read this book.  I appreciated the fact that the book was completely clean.  It was also not overly "preachy", rather had Biblical themes and references peppered tastefully throughout.

If you're in the mood for a good clean, fun, witty mystery, I would highly recommend Death by the Book!  Reaching an audience of anyone, Christian or non, ages 13 and up, this is the perfect mystery for when you're craving intrigue.

I give Death by the Book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Check out more information HERE!

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Out come the to-do lists.  Papers, sticky notes, pens, spirals, everywhere... lists, reminders, checkboxes.  All in the name of "getting stuff done".

I'm a get-er-done kinda gal.  I like to plow through things.  I like to check things off.  The feeling of accomplishment is intoxicating to me.

All too often though, I find my work or my current "plan" being sabotaged by this crazy little thing called....life.  My lists end up unfinished.  Blog posts sit in the draft folder, novels remain unwritten, aspirations gather dust.  Responsibilities take over dreams, and I find myself merely surviving.

Life gets in the way of my ambitions, and I crumble.  Why?

I find my security in the stuff I "get done".  I feel like if I do "great things for God" that I'm doing what I should be doing, right?  And yet, when my plans are frustrated, why do I feel like reacting in an unChristian manner, if my motivations were correct?

In the midst of the chaos, the craziness of life, I have learned one of the most beautiful secrets: Jesus comes first.  I know, okay...that sounds cliche.  But it's truth.

God requires first and foremost of me to be completely in love with Him.  Everything else that "gets done" is secondary.

In fact, in the book of Micah, we are released from the bonds that have so tightly gripped man for centuries, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8, emphasis added)

I love the last part.  Jesus wants me to walk with Him.  WITH Him!  Not where He can watch me from heaven, stumbling around, trying to figure it all out for myself.  No, He's standing here on the road with me; all He wants is that I take His hand and let Him walk with me, leading me.

Before I can do anything great, my hand needs to be secure in His.  Before I can tackle my "to-do's", my heart needs time at the cross.  Because what if those things on my list aren't what He has in store for me today?  What if He has a bigger idea as to how He wants to use me in His kingdom?

I heard Leslie Ludy at a conference one time say that the best "time management plan" happens when we take time to pray.

It's hard for me to stop and take time, especially if I accidentally miss my alarm for the morning, or I have especially a lot on my plate for the day.  It's tough for me to slow down!  It's counter intuitive to stop and be still when you're trying to be efficient, right?

But then, Jesus did promise,

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
(Matthew 6:33)

Time for me to rearrange my priorities...a sticky note that just says "Jesus" might be a good start. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

waiting room

One of my favorite albums is Jonny Diaz's Beautiful You.

On this album he has a song called Waiting Room.  I remember listening to the album, paying the song no particular heed, until I came upon a particularly rough season, and the lyrics just played in my head...over and over.

Here in this waiting room
Yearning for You to say go.
Though I'm convinced that a yes would be best,
But this time You're telling me no.

It's not that I don't have an answer.
It's just not the one that I'd like
Through all this time, I know I must keep in mind
That you're always wiser than I

'Cause You have a much better purpose
You have a far greater plan
You have a bigger perspective
'Cause You hold this world in Your hands...

I remember a couple years ago, my mom was early pregnancy and encountering the signs of miscarriage.  I remember pleading with God, begging for the tiny life of my little brother or sister.  I remember crying hard, feeling the ache in the pit of my stomach...Don't take him away, Lord.

When that miracle comes cause Your answer is yes
I will praise you for all of my days
But when Your wisdom declares that a no is best
I will praise You just the same

He took him home.  But I still praise Him.  I cannot describe the feeling, how can it hurt so badly to lose someone that you've never even met?

But God has continued to use this song to minister to my heart.  Because I'll always be waiting on something.  There will always be something that requires trust.  It wouldn't be faith if there was no risk of pain.

He has taught me the unexplainable feeling of the peace that surpasses all understanding in the midst of overwhelming ache.  The intoxicating joy, the miraculous serenity that comes from having an unshakable foundation in the sovereign reign of the King of the universe, that so happens to be my Father.

Because Jesus is Lord, I know that when I wait, I wait upon Him that can make mountains move.

I know that He knows the end.  And if He loved me enough to die the most excruciating death, does He not love me still?  Is His love not strong enough to cherish me, to give me the absolute best?

Even when it means pain.  Even when it means I don't understand.

He always has a better plan.

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."  
 ~Psalm 27:14

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review and Enter to win a Kindle HDX from @TLHigley in THE QUEEN’S HANDMAID giveaway!

From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

My review:
I really enjoyed the rich historical setting of this book.  I felt transported back to the time of the ancients; to face their problems, to feel their pain, and to watch the once "dry" stories that make up the past come alive!

I did find, after a little while, the historical descriptions beginning to get a bit tedious with the sheer amount of them, however I did understand that they were necessary to the storyline itself.  I felt that the author did do an excellent job of bringing history's facts to life, giving them flesh, blood, and breath.  Weaving together a tale that pulls at your heart strings, giving you the opportunity to feel the heart's struggles and aches, but in the end to know the joy.

I loved the ending--it totally took me by surprise!  So satisfying.

There were more mature themes that I felt were very tastefully done, though I still would not recommend the book to a reader younger than 15.  However, for anyone that enjoys good historical fiction novel with a storyline that relates to the heart, I would definitely recommend The Queen's Handmaid!

I give The Queen's Handmaid 4 stars.

Find out more info by clicking HERE!

Tracy L. Higley is celebrating the release of The Queen's Handmaid with a fun giveaway.

Retailers + Resources gave it this glowing review: "Rich in historic detail, Higley’s vivid writing brings to life the plots and intrigues that swirled through the ancient world as alliances were built and broken on the calculated schemes of power-mad monarchs." 
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced April 21st on Tracy's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Tracy's blog on April 21st to see if you won.