Review: The Guardian

God only gives so many wake-up calls… Will she answer?

BOOK: The Guardian (A Three Sisters Novel)

AUTHOR: Abbigail Raine B.

GENRE: Christian Historical Fiction

AGE LEVEL: Appropriate for Fifteen and up


Survival on the prairies of 1850s Texas is full of hardship and tragedy. Felicia “Felix” Taylor would know. Raising her sisters, running the farm, and connecting with her neighboring friends keeps her grounded. But when the providential and the coincidental occur, how will she respond? Will she acknowledge that it may be the God she turned her back on? Will she let Him in? Or will she steel her heart against the faith that betrayed her?


5 Stars


Still reeling from a cruel blow that changed everything, Felix is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her sisters safe so no more tragedy befalls her family. But life isn’t cooperating with her plans, and problem after problem accrues. Is this some mere, destructive turn of fate, and how can any good possibly come from such hardships?

With a steady pace that gently guides the reader through the everyday lives of three sisters, the plot gradually builds the tension until the reader can’t help but wonder how things will be resolved. There’s a bit of suspense near the end, and my heart was pounding something fierce during those last few chapters.

This is where Abbigail’s strength really shines. Effortlessly weaving words, she draws the reader into hot, humid days, tempestuous storms, solemn settings, and cozy cabins and barns. I could feel myself in the setting, and Abbigail does well never letting you forget the time and place.

Felix reminded me so much of myself: the determined older sister who will do anything to keep her siblings safe, even if it means being a controlling tyrant at times. The other sisters, Stacey and Millie, are each well-crafted too, and I never once mixed them up with each other.

There is another character–my favorite, in fact–whom readers will meet, but I will refrain from spilling any more details lest I spoil the plot. Let’s just say I fangirled so. Doggone. Hard. And I shipped two certain characters so. Doggone. Hard as well.

As always, the icing on the cake is the faith content, and that’s certainly true for The Guardian. With an unashamed and bold manner, Abbigail proclaims the Gospel without reservation. I so appreciated her resolve in portraying the truth. In a world where the truth is watered down to avoid “hurting feelings” or offending people, this was a wonderful reminder of how we are called to be lights amidst the darkness.

Holding no punches, Abbigail lays out the Gospel as it is presented in Scripture: Hell is real, and that’s where all who are unsaved are going unless you repent and believe.

To this, I give Abbigail a thousand accolades. Well done, Abbi. I’m so proud of your boldness in this.

An attack is reminisced about, a character is injured in various occurrences, and a horse is poisoned by hemlock (no one is at fault for this).

In a solid story that forthrightly declares the Gospel, Abbigail Raine B. delivers an impactful and poignant debut. If you enjoy faith-filled historicals, you’ll not want to miss The Guardian.

*I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Book Review: Dreams of the Heart

Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.

Author: Penny Zeller

Series: Wyoming Sunrise, Book Two

Genre: Historical Romance

Suitable for: This is an adult book, but readers 15 and up can read it.


Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.

Poverty and abuse at the hands of her drunkard father leaves Hannah Bane trapped and alone. Without hope, she prays for a miracle just on the off-chance God will hear her. Will the handsome new deputy, who seems to be watching her every move, be Hannah’s one chance to escape the only life she’s ever known?

For as long as he can remember, John Mark Eliason has wanted to be a deputy sheriff. When a job opens in the nearby town of Poplar Springs, he eagerly accepts, but finds his greatest mission won’t be tracking down criminals and bringing justice to the ruthless Wyoming town, but saving a beautiful young woman he barely knows.

Will an unexpected answer to a difficult situation show how love can endure—and even thrive—in an unconventional situation? Or will fear and uncertainty keep two hesitant hearts apart?

A handsome deputy sheriff.
A woman in search of freedom.
An unconventional situation.

In the sequel to Forgotten Memories, author Penny Zeller weaves a tender tale of faith, romance, and humor in a memorable story that reminds us God hears every prayer and has a plan for every life.


5 Stars


Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.


In my review of <a href=" Memories, which is the first book in the series, I said it was my favorite book of Zeller’s to date.

Dreams of the Heart has now stolen that spot. Because this book is my absolute favorite of Zeller’s, and I honestly do not see any other story surpassing it. Dreams of the Heart is just so, so good and tender and beautiful and heartwarming.

The plot is sweet and gentle. The reader is quickly sucked into a Wild West town of lawlessness, where good struggles to shine through. The action is primarily heart-and-emotional-wise, although it does build up to one heck of an epic showdown. And the ending! Yes, I was teary. If it doesn’t draw tears to your eyes, then you either scanned it or just didn’t read it. Because it’s just the perfect ending to such a lovely story.

The wild, wayward town of Poplar Springs is well-written, as is Zeller’s amazing depictions of the nearby mountains, wooded foothills, and cattle-dotted prairie. And it was nice revisiting Willow Falls again.

John Mark is the best and that’s all I’m going to say. I love his protective nature and duty to enforcing justice.

Hannah is such a dear character and Zeller really presented her as a sympathetic character. I loved her character arc. She’s depicted perfectly on the cover–it captures the longing we witness within her, captures the dreams she hopes will someday, somehow be fulfilled, and just encapsulates the book’s overall feeling.

The myriad of secondary characters are great as well. Ambrose is such a little sweetie and he needs a hug. I want his story. It was nice seeing the other characters from Love’s New Beginnings and Forgotten Memories again. Reverend Solomon is as wise as ever, Lydie is still so kind and caring, Annie and Caleb are now three, soon to be four, times busier (you’ll understand when you read this book), and Charlotte is Charlotte. I think her story is next, and I really want it. Really, really want it.

Ina, Pritchard, Hank, Frank, Winslow, and the others were good as well. Pritchard had me laughing almost every time. And the antagonists were well-written too. Nasty sots. They deserved their comeuppance.

True to Zeller’s style, a deep amount of faith is woven in, and in such a beautiful manner as well. This is not a book for those who detest Scripture and characters who are unafraid to obey the Bible and share about their faith. It’s also not a book for those who only want watered-down faith. Zeller is bold and firm in the incorporation, and I can’t applaud that enough.

There is nothing objectionable. Emotional abuse is alluded to, as are a few instances of physical. Characters are shot, there are mentions of robberies, and arson is committed. Zeller stays true to her style and writes a book that is pleasing and God-honoring and which contains no cringe-worthy content.

True to Zeller’s style, the romance is wonderfully clean, which I so appreciate. I don’t have to have my eyes pop out at unexpected–and unnecessary–content, and it’s just lovely and pure and God-honoring. I’ve been seeing many historicals become too lustful, and I am grateful to report this is not one of those. This is an example of how a Godly marriage should be, even if it comes about in an unconventional way. No nasty sex scenes, no lewd comments, no lust. Just a wonderful romance I can read without cringing.

With a delightful blend of faith, God-honoring romance, a great plot, and humor, Zeller once again brings us a book that deserves to be on everyone’s TBR. You will laugh, cry, shout in anger at the villains, and urge the main characters toward triumph as you immerse yourself in this book.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: this is my favorite of Zeller’s books.

Dreams of the Heart is a captivating, lovely story that will capture you within its pages and keep you reading–and wishing for more.

*I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Isn’t that cover just gorgeous? It’s so soft and gentle and matches the story perfectly.

What about this book piques your interest? Is Christian historical romance one of your favorite genres, or are you more partial to others?

Review: The Tethered World

Title: The Tethered World (The Tethered World Chronicles, Book One)

Author: Heather L.L. FitzGerald

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (Please keep in mind Mountain Brook no longer publishes Christian spec fic.)

Available: Wherever books are sold



“Normal” means different things to different people.

For sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen, family dynamics look a little different than most. Parents with oddball occupations? Normal. Five homeschooled siblings—one with autism? Normal.

Police knocking on the door and parents gone missing? Definitely not normal!

When Sadie uncovers the reasons behind her parents’ disappearance and the truth about her heritage, she despairs of ever feeling normal again. Especially when she learns that her mother’s interest in Bigfoot, Dwarves, and other lore extends beyond her popular blog. Sadie’s family has been entrusted with keeping the secrets of the Tethered World—home to creatures that once roamed the Garden of Eden.

Sadie and her siblings must venture into this land to rescue their parents. Stepping out of reality and into a world she never knew existed is a journey Sadie fears and resents. But she chooses to risk all to save her family.

She’s just not sure she will survive in the process.


5 Stars


Whowzers. Um, okay. What was this, my fifth time reading The Tethered World? And I’m still mourning the end of the book even though I know where the series goes.

This, my friends, is what Christian YA should be.

Urban Fantasy with a Biblical twist…kind of. It’s super unique and just fun and enjoyable. Clean, family-friendly, no amount of cringe material whatsoever, and just wholesome. Lots of adventure packed with good lessons, including the importance of family. Plus, I really liked the adoption thread, minor as it was. And the fact that we have a homeschool family as the main characters is a major YES for me.

Most homeschoolers can identify with Sadie’s exasperation at the “Oh, you’re a homeschooler?” part. I mean, come on, folks. Quit gawkin’ at us like we’re creatures from Mars. Or the Tethered World. We know how to “socialize” far better than your precious public school darlings, and I dare say we’re more intelligent over all. You know. Because our curriculum isn’t packed with nonsensical, anti-God, anti-intelligence, and anti-American garbage.

Anyway. Rant over. Needless to say, I empathized. Such stupid reactions we homeschoolers, and homeschool graduates, receive.

The Tethered World is beyond fascinating. The sheer amount of creativity FitzGerald packs into this story blew me away. Worldbuilding can become tricky when writing straight-up fantasy. But worldbuilding while tying it in with the Bible? And the real world? That’s a doozy. A doozy FitzGerald did marvelously at. You’re there in the passage ways, atop Odyssey’s back (and passing out with Sadie), and traveling to the different parts of the “World”.

Sadie’s a hoot. A sarcastic hoot. I was laughing for about half of this book due to the humor mixed in. I liked how organic her character arc was–the good, the bad, and the sassy.

Brady is great. Because I know what happens in future books, I have to say he’s my favorite. (Which ends up killing my heart in Book Three, but I’ll not go there.) An arrogant little twerp, but he learns so much during the adventure.

Sophie’s the stereotypical younger sister. I definitely empathized with Sadie about her.

Brock is Brock. Lovable because of who he is, not because he “interacts” a lot with the reader.

The myriad of supporting characters are fantastic as well. Except for the baddies. They’re not fantastic. Well, they’re fantastically nasty and evil and vile and putrid and just all-around miserable sots. It was easy to dislike them. Stinky creatures.

Faith/Spiritual Elements
Again, very organic. We learn with Sadie and we are reminded of the importance of relying on God and that He is in control no matter how dire the situation.

Many, many kudos to FitzGerlad for achieving something you rarely find in YA: a solid, nuclear family that actually loves each other. Liam and Amy’s devotion toward each other was so tender, even in the roughest moment, and I was delighted regarding Sadie and her siblings’ relationships and interactions. You don’t get that wholesomeness in most YA books, even if they’re touted as “Christian”.

Content Warnings
Characters are injured, kidnapped, smacked around, and bloodied. War and battle and their casualties are mentioned. Nasties are slain in self-defense. There’s no profanity to speak of (no pun intended) and the romance is pure and simple.

I reread this book after being exhausted by an absolutely colossal YA failure, and this is so refreshing. We need more YA authors like FitzGerald.

Like I said before, this is what YA should be. This is what Christian YA should be. Wholesome, clean, faith-filled, and just great for the entire family. The Tethered World falls into the same category as Chuck Black and Donita K. Paul: perfect for the entire crew.

If you want an excellent book that defies the typical YA boundaries, incorporates faith and family, and mixes in a generous heaping of adventure and hints of romance, The Tethered World is the book for you.

Book Review: Phantom Thief

When a criminally-minded teen meets the law, prepare for a showdown…and a lot of explosions.

Book: Phantom Thief (A.K.A. Simon Lee #1)

Author: P.D. Atkerson

Genre: Young Adult Suspense

ABOUT the Book:

Lee is known as many things. A con artist, master thief, and most times smarter than anyone else in the room. One thing he’ll never be is normal. He never has been, nor will he ever be.

That’s why the agency needs his help, and that’s why he’ll give it to them, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own plans too.

Joining up with the team that arrested him won’t be easy, but he’ll do anything to bring down the man who ruined his life. After he’s worn so many faces, how does he really know who he is underneath?

Most teenagers have hobbies, his is crime.


5 Stars


Phantom Thief is set in a genre I don’t typically read (spy work/thriller), but this book may make me reconsider that. It is also an example of how you can have a solid story with no profanity, extreme violence and gore, and sex, and still have plenty of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Plot
Very intriguing. I’m not investigatory-minded, so it kept me guessing. I definitely did not see some of the twists coming. The thought and detail put into it really shines through and as a fellow author, I couldn’t imagine trying to keep all of it straight. But, somehow, Atkerson easily achieved that.

Can’t say much without giving away the plot, but they were nicely done.

I think Simon Lee–oh, excuse me, Phantom Thief is one of the most multi-faceted characters I’ve read in a while. Mysterious, master snoop, snarky, and a child in an adult’s setting (I know, I know, he’s no mere child–but let’s all admit he’s fifteen. He’s a kid.). The others were interesting as well. I guessed one-point-five characters’ real identities (kudos for me because that doesn’t happen often) but not the rest.

Not a ton of it, but what there was proved to be impactful. I believe it will increase as the series goes on, if I’m reading it correctly.

Content Warning
Fights, injuries, and explosions, none of which are gratuitous. Lies, lots of stepping-around-the-subject, and tempers lost, though it’s not portrayed as a good thing. Overall, it’s a clean read with clean action that I think most ages can comfortably read.

Phantom Thief is an interesting story able to be read by most ages. Atkerson’s bio says she has a black belt in sarcasm; I think her characters do too.

This was a fun read that will keep you snickering at the humor and anxiously awaiting to see what happens next.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed therein are my own.

Book Review: Imagine Anthology

RATING OVERVIEW: (7) 5 Stars, (1) 4 Stars, (7) 3 Stars (some were 3.5), (1) 2.5 Stars, and (1) 1 Star

Author: There are multiple different authors. Each are listed in the below review

Genre: Several fantasy, some dystopian, and some contemporary. Some include romance.

Publisher: Teen Writers’ Nook Publishing

About the Book

It’s time to imagine…


Such a small word for such a huge impact it has. Every great story begins here—at that moment after the idea but before the story is completed. The spark. The vision. The idea that will expand into a story that clings to readers’ hearts for a lifetime. An author’s story is limited only by his imagination, and how far he is willing to go to breathe life into characters. To build the foundations of another world. To see the struggles and envision the victories. To search for the magic burning in the darkness.

Teen Writers’ Nook presents a collection of short stories and poems from talented young authors that will take you beyond the boundaries of your mind. From snarky protagonists to the tear-jerking sacrifice. From mystical fantasy worlds to indescribable sci-fi stories. Thrilling adventures, daring choices, inspiring messages, heartfelt romances, and everything beyond. Maybe—just maybe—these tales will have you journey past reality and to the depths of your imagination. Will you take the risk and embark through the pages of this book?


Overall, a 5 Star. Individual ratings are listed in the below review.

RATING OVERVIEW: (7) 5 Stars, (1) 4 Stars, (7) 3 Stars (some were 3.5), (1) 2.5 Stars, and (1) 1 Star

First, a very (over a year…oops) belated congratulations to Issabelle! And congrats to the participating authors.

I wrote my thoughts as I read each individual short story. As with every collection, there are bound to be a few you aren’t all that fond of. I really enjoyed a vast majority of them, can’t recommend two of them, and have found new-to-me authors I will be looking into posthaste.

My thoughts and individual ratings for each short story are as follows:

Cursed by Grace A. Johnson

Rating: 1 Star

Wasn’t a fan of the writing style at all–too rambling and jumping all over the place–but that’s not what merits the single star. Yes, I know this is a fantasy world, but some things are unacceptable no matter the genre. In this short story others receive the deceased’s souls. That is downright creepy and just wrong. Plus, there are no such things as ghosts and being truly soulless. It just…no. Nope. It reeks of a weird mix of Kind-Of-Catholic Purgatory, other unBiblical beliefs, and the Hinduistic reincarnation. It is EXPLICIT in the Bible that after you die you don’t just wander around aimlessly (plus, how could you when you don’t have a soul, which is apparently this character’s problem?). You go one of two places. I don’t care if this was fantasy. We can’t allow false theology and unBiblical teachings, truths, and doctrines at all. And we definitely cannot use any particular genre as an excuse to include those incorrect elements.

This was a hard, absolutely-not nope for me. I do not recommend it at all.

Shape-Shifter’s Code by Allie Jo Andersen

Rating: 5 Stars

I’ve not read anything else by Andersen, and I’m going to rectify that. Such a fun story! The clever “worldbuilding” (regarding shape-shifting; what would you call that? Shape-shifting-building?). The humor was natural and I enjoyed the story. I hope it will someday be expounded upon. (And was I shipping Maisy and Spencer? Just a wee bit.)

Love, Lilly by Alaine Darkwood

Rating:5 Stars

I don’t know if I can put into words how poignant and touching this…this letter, really, is. That’s really all I can say. It reminds you how precious life is, how valuable loyalty is, and how deadly the actions of our consequences can be.

Living Tapestries by Faith Elizabeth

Rating: 4.5 Stars

This is a gentle poem about the goodness of God, really, and how He can turn us from broken into whole and from slogging in sin to one of His own saved through faith.

A Dragon’s Choice by Chloe B. Christensen

Rating: 3 Stars

This was a fun story, and of course I liked that dragons were included.

Visionaries by Linyang Zhang

Rating: 3 Stars

Zhang has a good writing style and her incorporation of wry wit and humor made me snort in amusement. The story felt confusing as it went on, though, and I get why the kids wanted harmony and peace, but that will never happen, especially for Christians. We’ll forever be at odds with the world until Christ returns.

The Chest of Lost Worlds by Lorelei Angelino

Rating: 5 Stars

Ah! This was such a good short story! A little rushed, obviously, due to the word count (short stories are 5,000 words or less), but still quite clever and intriguing. I’d really like to see this expanded into a longer novella or, possibly, a series. I’d read that. Totally would read that.

Evil Queen by V.L. Smith

Rating: 5 Stars

Admittedly, I’m not a poetry person. At all. This poem is one of the few I think are written well. With an interesting take on a character from Snow White, it imparts a lesson everyone needs to take to heart. The poetry itself is also quality, which is not something I think regarding most poems. Well done, Smith.

Sparks by Alexa Peterson

Rating: 3.5 Stars

This is a good reminder about how everyone, no matter how insignificant they view themselves, can make a difference. The other theme is to never let your anger win–as in, don’t hold grudges and let the sun go down on your anger.

Hidden Magic by Penelope Rugan

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The premise was ingenious, the worldbuilding intriguing, and the way the personalities clashed hilarious. The story ended too abruptly for my preference, though that probably won’t bother others. Anyway, I needed the sequel a week ago please and thank you.

Illusionist by Lissa Johnson

Rating 3

Okay. Johnson has a solid writing voice and included some absolutely hilarious snippets. And that plot twist. Chilling. Who-ee. I was not expecting that end. Not really sure what to think of it, really, since I’m still recovering. My primary beef was the liberal inclusion at the beginning. I almost DNF’d it for that reason but wanted to know how this story ended.

Beloved Lorelei Angelino

Rating: 5 Stars

*Clapping* A short poem that beautifully reinforces John 3:16.

Angel by Grey S. Park

Rating: 3 Stars

I’m not into Korean culture–music, literature, drama–at all, so it took a little for me to adjust to this. I really did like the heavy emphasis on quality familial ties and bonds, though. We don’t see that near enough in fiction these days and it was refreshing to read about.

To Risk the Truth by Victoria Crooks

Rating: 5 Stars

I always appreciate authors who are unafraid to include faith in their works, and Crooks is one of those. Weaving a captivating tale filled with dystopian hints, strong faith, and a woman struggling to be the best leader for her world, To Risk the Truth portrays the importance of sharing our faith. I will be looking into more of Crooks’ books in the near future.

Memories Returned by Selah Sigmon

Rating: 3.5 Stars

I was all ready to give this a five star rating until it ended. No. I need more. I need to know what happens. Please? You can’t just leave me at that unexpected revelation!

Though He Brings Grief by Faith Elizabeth

Rating: 2.5 stars

Faith Elizabeth can really weave a heartbreaking story. I liked the Bible verses. What I did not like was how Jesus appeared in dreams and spoke to a character. That is too much like the unBiblical “Heaven is Real” farce and all that malarkey. Dreams, visions, and actually being spoken to (I’m not talking about verses being impressed upon the heart) do not occur in the Western world. I believe God may use that approach in Muslim countries and other areas closed off to Christianity, but that’s a different topic.

Faith Elizabeth can write. I just can’t agree with how Jesus appeared and literally spoke to a character.

Gift of Hope by Lorelei Angelino

Rating 5 Stars

“Scattered pieces of the sun…” What a beautiful picture! Angelino can paint with words. That’s all I can really figure out what to say.


I really liked several, liked some, and heavily disliked one. Overall, Imagine is an entertaining collection, and I would like to see more books like it (hint, hint, Issabelle). I think there’s at least one story in here for everyone, and I encourage you to read this anthology. Some especially really hit hard for me because I just learned of a death. So I read this in God’s perfect timing.

Book Review: The Fairest Beauty

Rating: 2 Stars

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Publisher: Zondervan

Genre: Christian Fairytale Retelling


A daring rescue.
A difficult choice.

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.


2 Stars


I would like to impart a disclaimer that the general reference to Ms. Dickerson’s books extends only to those published before The Piper’s Pursuit. I’ve not read the author’s latest releases.

There’s no denying Ms. Dickerson possesses the ability to create page-turning fairy tale retellings. She’s also unafraid to include faith, which I applaud and appreciate. This book had potential. A clever retelling of an old fairy tale, an evil antagonist, and a host of characters who, while not fully developed, were interesting. If not for the major issue, this book could be 3 or 4 stars.

Unfortunately, the major issue is too big to overlook, and too influential to the plot. I have no issue with clean romance. I expect romance in a fairy tale retelling. I don’t know if it could be a fairy tale retelling without romance. The problem is The Fairest Beauty doesn’t really have romance. Oh, it has the beginnings of it. Boy and girl meet. Both find the other attractive. Great. That’s fine and well. Romance in a Christian book usually begins with thinking the other is cute, then developing to admiring the other’s faith, personality, and quirks. The problem is, this book begins with cute romance and quickly catapults into lust. It’s unwholesome and inappropriate for a Christian book, let alone one read by preteen and young teen girls. In fact, most of Gabeheart’s and Sophie’s relationship is saturated with lust. There are some good qualities to their relationship, but they’re overshadowed by these improper, worldly feelings. They don’t know each other for long before this begins to develop, and it just flattens what could be a nice story. I’m not saying Gabeheart and Sophie were bad characters. They both possess admirable qualities. The romance just wasn’t handled well.

I dislike leaving low star reviews for Christian authors. However, we as Christians are called to a higher standard in our writing, in our message, and this standard was, overall, missed. Which is unfortunate, because this story really did have potential.

The Fairest Beauty has an absolutely stunning cover, marvelous inclusions of faith, and decent characters. I regret I can’t recommend it though to preteens and even teens. If you do decide to read this book, beware of the lust.

The negativity of this review does not reflect on Ms. Dickerson’s other books (except The Healer’s Apprentice; I can’t recommend that one for a different reason) (see aforestated disclaimer). If you’re looking for some 4-and-5 star (personal ratings) books of Ms. Dickerson’s, I highly recommend The Merchant’s Daughter, The Captive Maiden, The Princess Spy, and A Medieval Fairytale Series.

This is the first negative review I have posted on Madi’s Musings. It will not be the last. I have decided it is time to not only promote books others should read, but bring to light books set in Christian genres that others should avoid. I am sick and tired and actually irate about books with unBiblical themes and messages being promoted as “Christian”–and even lauded by the Christian community. As Christians, it is our duty to speak out and warn others of these books. Just because it wears a Christian label does not mean it is actually Christian. Please use discernment.

Disagreement is welcomed, but it must remain civil. Any comments which exceed the bounds of civility will be deleted and the user blocked from my blog.

Book Review: McKenzie

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Author: Penny Zeller

Series: Montana Skies, Book One

Publisher: Whitaker

“Desperate times call for desperate measures” is the reasoning that prompts McKenzie Worthington, a young lady of Boston’s high society, to respond to an ad for a mail-order bride for a man in the Montana Territory. McKenzie is desperate, after all, to save her beloved younger sister, Kaydie, from her evil, abusive husband, who robs banks for a living. And so, it is with reckless determination that McKenzie runs away from the comforts of home and hearth to head West and meet her new husband-whom she’ll divorce, of course, after she rescues her sister.

Desperate times call for desperate measures is the reasoning that also prompts Zachary Sawyer, a rugged rancher after God’s own heart, to post an ad for a mail-order bride in various newspapers across the country. Managing a ranch and caring for his adoptive son, Davey, has become more than one man can handle alone, and Zach prays for God to send him a wife with whom to build a life and share his dreams.

When McKenzie arrives at Zach’s ranch, she immediately puts her plan in motion, searching for her sister and doing all she can to keep her new husband from forming an attachment. But his persistent kindness and significant self-sacrifices begin to change her heart-and ruin her plans. God has a way of working things out to the good of those who love Him, though, as McKenzie and Kaydie will soon see.

If you enjoyed reading McKenzie, you won’t want to miss the sequels in this series: Kaydie and Hailee.


5 Stars


What lengths would you go to to save your sister?

That is the question McKenzie Worthington must ask herself when she learns of her sister’s dire predicament. The book’s tagline is, “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” and that is exactly what McKenzie does–enacts a desperate plan to save her beloved younger sister.

This is such a sweet, gentle story. Zeller does well crafting a variety of characters, from snotty siblings, loyal ranch hands and mentors, and a wonderful hero and adorable child. Of the main characters, I think Zach was my favorite, but just barely. Of the secondary, how can I choose? I want to snuggle Davey and Asa and Rosemary are gold. And Lucille. Oh, boy. Lucille is one of those supporting characters who provides oodles of humor, and her antics kept me laughing. She means well, but that doesn’t mean everything always goes according to plan.

McKenzie is chock full of good lessons, including honesty, love, the importance of true faith, and loyalty. I’ve seen some of the reviews complaining about McKenzie being selfish and spoiled, and yes, she was to certain degrees at first, but going after your sibling the way she did is the opposite of selfish. And Zeller really did craft a well-rounded character, and used McKenzie’s flaws to grow her.

I am quite looking forward to the next book and Jonah and Kaydie’s story.

In short, McKenzie is a sweet romance that I can easily envision being made into a movie similar to Love Comes Softly. Fans of Christian historical romance should add this book to their TBR.

Book Review: Secrets in the Shadows

Warring Brothers, Manipulating Advisors, and Secrets in the Shadows.

Author: Kaitlyn King

Publisher: Pen in Hand Publishing

Genre: Christian Fantasy


Warring Brothers, Manipulating Advisors, And Secrets in the Shadows.

Whispers of a silent civil war swirl through the halls of Endor.

In the wake of King Hadrian’s attack, Tridan and his friends are now being exalted as heroes. But can these thirteen-year-olds save the kingdom from itself?

As Prince Altholos’ coronation approaches, Prince Oliver starts his campaign to take his brother’s place on the throne. Noble families are forced to choose sides and covert battles rage throughout the land.

However the next generation of conquerors longs to do more. Can they bring peace to a castle where there are secrets in the shadows of every corridor?


5 Stars


Secrets in the Shadows is the first book I’ve read by King, and I definitely recommend it. The book’s intriguing cover portends an equally intriguing plot, which contains all manners of hilarity, faith, vile antagonists, and action.

The Plot
There’s a lot going on in this book, and you need to read thoroughly to keep in mind the multi-faceted plot. There are numerous POVs, which King handles well, and so much action, both the fighting type and the emotional type. Lots of intrigue, heroism, the opposite of heroism (you’ll know what I’m taking about when you read this), and just a good, solid plot that keeps you on your toes. (And I did not see that certain plot twist coming.) I do recommend reading Book One before Secrets in the Shadows so you have a clear view of what’s going on.

The Settings
The settings are well-described and well-thought out. I could easily imagine myself standing amid the forgotten church’s ruins and sneaking down corridors as evil plots are afoot. King does well placing the reader right where characters are, whether it be a secretive supper, the training grounds, or the woods.

The kingdom and all of it’s numerous lords and nobles and their lands were also developed quite well. Worldbuilding is by far one of King’s greatest strengths.

The Characters
There are several POVs, most of whom are tweens and young teens. Each character has a part to play, and they play it well. I liked how they grew emotionally and maturely during the story. Each character is distinct in voice and personality and I liked how King intertwined their lives.

Other Thoughts
There’s also a good dose of levity, which balances the more serious parts of this book. A nice allotment of sarcasm and amusing circumstances will keep you chuckling.

The best part of this book is the faith. We see broken characters, scared and scarred characters, and characters who just want to do the right thing. King expertly wove a beautiful faith aspect into each of these, gently illustrating how no one is too far from God’s mercy and how simple acts of kindness can be used as witnessing. I’m not necessarily an emotional reader, but I definitely teared up during a scene or two.

Content Warning
Some parts of this story may be considered intense for younger readers, but they didn’t bother me. Polygamy is considered normal by secular nobles (clearly not condoned by the author), there is some violence, but it’s handled well, and just a general assortment of thugs, nasties, and villains. There’s only a hint of romance.

Filled with intrigue, good versus evil, faith, and memorable characters, Secrets in the Shadows is a book you’ll want to add to your TBR.

Book Review: Betrayal

It’s the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal.

AUTHOR: Robin Lee Hatcher

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Zondervan

It’s the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.

Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she’s going to have to trust someone if she’s to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband’s half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?

The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.


5 Stars


This is such a sweet and lovely book. Probably my favorite of Hatcher’s thus far.

Hugh was such a gentle character. Tortured by his checkered past, by the injustice wrought to him, by the abandonment and betrayal of a family member. His faith was so earnest despite this, and his desire to do right and grow in his faith really added depth to his character arc.

Julia was great too. So hurt by her past and that absolutely atrocious, horrendous, mean, wretched husband of hers. I’m more than happy he died. What a nasty soul. The walls Julia has built hide a tender, hurting heart, and I enjoyed watching her grow through the book. She and Hugh are a perfect pair.

Peter and Rose were delightful as well. Peter’s attempts to grasp the fact that his daughter was in love definitely added a measure of humor, and he and Rose were the perfect compliment to this story.

The faith elements are beautiful. So smoothly woven in and natural to the plot. And the tie-in with A Heart of Gold wasn’t something I noticed the first three times reading this book.

Betrayal is a captivating and splendid story about two broken hearts learning to trust again. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Midnight Will Come

She can’t escape the past …

Author: Kristina Hall

Title: Midnight Will Come

Series: Kentucky Midnight, #1

She can’t escape the past …

Mellie Rivers’s job as a nurse allows her to help those the dystopian government has deemed unworthy of medical care. The threats she’s been receiving are a small price to pay. Besides, she has the help of her new neighbor—German missionary and powerlifter Friedrich Wolf.

Friedrich didn’t expect to be drawn into protecting Mellie, but now he’s getting all too close to her—and to the danger threatening her life.

When the threats turn to something more, Friedrich and Mellie face a danger neither of them could’ve imagined, and they’ll have to find a way to escape a situation that has no escape.

Because midnight has come.


5 Stars


First, I want to say suspense is not the genre I typically read. Second, I want to say…well, I don’t really know. Because wow doesn’t really suffice. It’s not a strong enough word to describe this book.

As aforementioned, suspense isn’t the genre I usually prefer. That being said, I’ve been intrigued by Midnight Will Come since I first heard of it, and when the opportunity to ARC read it presented itself, I snatched it up. I am glad I did. this is an amazing book. So much faith, action, familial ties, protectiveness, a dash of wry humor, and more. Yet it is chilling, as it illustrates the culture America could quickly head in if we aren’t vigilant.

The cast of characters was great. Mellie (I love her name) and Friedrich were lovable main characters. Jess was a fun secondary character. As an older sister, I get how annoying little sisters can be and I completely understand how protective we are of our younger siblings.

And the antagonists. Don’t get me started on the antagonists. Such odious scoundrels. Vile scumbags. Nasty villains. Admittedly, I don’t have as much training as Friedrich, but I do have some, and I’d like to use that some to give the antagonists a taste, or more, or their own medicine.

The plot was captivating and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. The setting was well-described. Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson are great friends, and I heartily approve of Mellie being so adept at arming and protecting herself.

What I loved most about this book was the faith. I always applaud authors who are unashamed and unafraid of including the Gospel in their books, and Hall does so masterfully. The main characters endure so many trials, trials through which their humanity shows, but through it all they have faith. They may struggle, they may stumble, but they desperately cling to the One who holds them in His hand. So beautifully done. On a related side-note, the way the title was incorporated was brilliant and a little tear-jerking.

You need to read this book. It is applicable to current times and illustrates how we are never alone despite the hardships we face. It impressed me, and I’m not keen on most suspense books. If you like Christian suspense with a dash of dystopian and action, you will love Midnight Will Come.

I received an eARC of this book from the author. I was not required to leave a review and all opinions expressed are my own.