What Is Your Response When Times Get Hard? : Review of Shaken by Tim Tebow

As a Christian homeschooling family, we watched Tim Tebow's rise to fame in his early NFL career with great interest. Here was a pro athlete that was unapologetically a Christian. And, because of his time spent homeschooling, we could relate to him and his family there as well.

We were disappointed when we watched Tim cut from first the Broncos, then the Jets, and then the Patriots. But then time passed, and, to be honest, he slipped off the radar. I would occasionally hear things about him and the foundation that he established to minister to children who were facing difficult times and their families, to show God's love in those dark times.

Review of Shaken by Tim Tebow
{this post contains affiliate links that will benefit the blog}

I've now had the opportunity to be a part of the launch of Tim's brand new book- Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms. In this book, Tim talks about his own feelings of being shaken when his lifelong dream of becoming an NFL quarterback dissolved around him.

Throughout the book, Tim looks at how we respond when the bad times in life come. Using examples from his own experiences as well as those of people he's met through the foundation and throughout other events of his life, Tim guides readers to look beyond the struggles and consider God's leading in their lives. He writes in a conversational tone as if he's talking to readers.

Tim begins the book by talking his own experiences in getting cut, once again, from the Patriots. Tim talks about his feelings and emotions and his own questioning of what, exactly, God was doing his life. He's open and authentic as he relates his personal struggles.

Tim guides readers to think about Who they belong to when they're facing hard things. He talks about facing your fears and about responding to the negative people around you. He encourages readers to trust in God's plan even when it seems as if things are out of control. And he talks about the power of taking action and taking a stand for what you believe in. He ends the book with a chapter that talks about the most important thing-a personal relationship with Christ.

The book is written in a down to earth, relatable tone. Readers will feel as if Tim is talking to them personally. Fans of Tim Tebow, sports fans in general, and any reader who is struggling with life's unexpected turns can read and be encouraged as they walk through their hard times.

You can watch a trailer for the book here.

Want to know more? Visit the book's website here.  And purchase Shaken on Amazon here. (The book will be released on October 25, 2016, but it is available for pre-orders.)

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Review of Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund

Several years ago I came across author Jody Hedlund when I read her book A Noble Groom. I loved the book- her writing style, the character development. I've since reviewed two of her other books- The Preacher's Bride and Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion. I've loved each one and recently had the opportunity to review another- Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace. It's the story behind the author of one of my favorite hymns of all time- "Amazing Grace."

{this post contains affiliate links that will benefit the blog}

From the book's description:

Now remembered as the author of the world’s most famous hymn, in the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father—until the night he hears Polly Catlett’s enchanting voice, caroling. He’s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John’s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres. When it's well-done I can envision the time and people well. But for me to really appreciate historical fiction, I want the story to be true to known facts. This can be a little dicey when authors write about real people as the main characters of their stories.

Jody Hedlund does this well. In this book as well as The Preacher's Bride and Luther and Katharina, the main characters are real people. And Jody Hedlund has taken what's known about them historically and has given the reader a look into the relationship they had with their wives. She stays true to the historical information available, and she makes the men and their wives real, believable people for the reader to "meet."

In this book, Polly and John are both well-developed characters.  The theme of God's grace runs throughout- not only in the life of John, who decidedly needs God's grace to change a life that's gone astray, but also in the life of Polly, who thinks that she has to work to earn God's love.

Needless to say, I give this one five stars. I loved it, and I'll be looking for others by the author. You can find Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace on Amazon here. You can read a Kindle preview of the book below.

Review of The Preacher's Bride

Review of A Noble Groom

Review of Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Prince Noah and the School Pirates: A Celebration of the Strengths of All Children

Some time ago I had the opportunity to review The Prince Who Was Just Himself by Silke Schnee. Silke is the mom of three boys, one of whom- Noah- has Down's Syndrome. I loved the book- a beautiful, gentle fairy tale that celebrates that fact that Prince Noah, while responding to people differently than some children, has his own special gifts and abilities.

Review of Prince Noah and the School Pirates
{this post contains affiliate links that will benefit the blog}

Silke Schnee has now written a second book that features Noah, along with her other two sons. In this book, Prince Noah begins school. But school, in those days, takes place on ships. And children are assigned to a particular ship with other children "like them." There is an all boys ship, an all girls ship, a ship for children with only one leg, a ship for children with eye patches, and a ship for children who are different, like Noah.

Noah, along with his brothers and all of the children of the kingdom, set sail and begin to learn. Unfortunately things don't always go well. The girls only do handwork on their ship, by Maya wants to learn math. The boys are so rough and tumble on their ship that their teachers despair of ever teaching them anything except climbing and diving. The children with eyepatches have a very, very quiet ship because they've learned that, although they can't see, they can learn all about the world around them by listening. On Noah's ship, he's busy dancing and learning the letter A.

Trouble comes when the school ship meet pirates. The children are all marched up to a tower and locked away. But they realize that, in working together, they can each use their own special gifts and abilities to get free of the pirates and safely back to their teachers. The newly freed children end their school voyage all together on one ship where things go much more smoothly when they're each using their strengths and working together.

As with The Prince Who Was Just Himself, I love this book. It's such a sweet, gentle way to talk with kids about how, though we're all different, we can each be celebrated for the strengths we possess.

Whether you're reading Prince Noah and the School Pirates to a child with special needs or to a child society might call "normal," this cute, make-believe story is an excellent way to have good discussions about the fact that we're each unique with different strengths we can contribute to a group.

You can find Prince Noah and the School Pirates on Amazon here.

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Review of The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Sometimes when I see a new book everywhere I look, I just can't help myself. It doesn't matter how much- or little- that I know about the book or the author or even if the genre is my typical fare or not, I just have to jump on board and read it too. This was true of The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies.

Review of fiction book The Tea Planters Wife

After seeing the book surface in multiple review groups, I just had to read it.

From the book's description:

Dinah Jefferies' unforgettable new novel, The Tea Planter's Wife is a haunting, tender portrait of a woman forced to choose between her duty as a wife and her instinct as a mother... Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London. Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It's a place filled with clues to the past - locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult... Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand - least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done? The Tea Planter's Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.

I wasn't disappointed.

Although the book is written in third person, it's told from the perspective of Gwendolyn Hooper, the young woman on an adventure to be the wife of a wealthy tea planter in Ceylon. Gwen develops well into a very likable heroine. And through her interactions, the other characters in the cast are also well-developed.

The book is written in a style I would describe as hauntingly beautiful. Although there are happy moments, the tone is such that I constantly expected something difficult or bad to happen. The story isn't really a depressing one, though. And it is so well-written that, even overshadowed by this feeling or foreboding, the story is quite beautiful at times.

I was drawn into the story immediately, and this became one of those books I couldn't put down. There is an air of suspense that hovers around some of the characters, and I was constantly making predictions about what the mystery would turn out to be and then being inclined to read "just one more chapter" to see if my suspicions were correct.

My only complaint about the story at all is that has a rather precipitous ending. After a fairly lengthy story, multiple things seem to be resolved in a very quick manner in the last chapter or two. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the book up until this point, I found the ending rather abrupt, making the conclusion of a wonderful story a little bit choppy and less believable.

On a side note, I thoroughly enjoyed the historical setting of The Tea Planter's Wife. Set in Ceylon- now Sri Lanka- in the early 1900s when it was an English colony, it was a place and time I've not read very much about. It was also interesting to see how the American depression affected Gwen and her wealthy English husband in Ceylon- something I've also not read or thought much about.

Despite the ending, I give this one five stars. The rest of the story really was that good. This is not Christian fiction- as I often review- and there are a few scenes in the book. There isn't much detail given at all.

You can find The Tea Planter's Wife on Amazon here and read an excerpt of the Kindle book below.

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Review of The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

Michelle Griep was a new to me author, but I quickly found myself engrossed in The Captive Heart.

From the book's description:

Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.

Christian fiction review

{This post contains affiliate links that will benefit the blog.}

There were several things that I particularly enjoyed about The Captive Heart, and I'll be on the lookout for more from the author.

  • The character development was excellent. The story is told in third person, but it alternates between the view of Eleanor and Samuel, so I felt as if I got to know both of the main characters well. They were developed through reading about their thoughts and inner feelings as well as by the action that happened throughout the story.
  • The historical time period and historical events that were unfolding is another thing that really drew me to the this story. Set in the 1700s in the American colonies, the story focused on the colonists and their devotion to either the English soldiers or the new groups of rebels springing up. It also included a story line that illustrated how the division between England and the settlers affected the American Indian tribes. There is enough of a story that the tale could be continued in further novels. (I hope!)
  • The romance that develops between Eleanor and Samuel is very well-written. It's a sweet romance that is a continual struggle of attraction and annoyance between the two.
I can definitely recommend The Captive Heart. It was one of those stories that I was sorry to see while at the same time wanting it to work out and loose ends to be resolved. I give it five stars. You can find the book on Amazon here and read an excerpt from the Kindle version below.

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Review of Fifth Column: The Blitz Detective Series

Last year I had the opportunity to read and review the first in a new series by Mike Hollow. The Blitz Detective series features an English detective and is set during World War 2.  I reviewed Direct Hit here. Now I've read for review the next book in the series- Fifth Column.

Review of Fifth Column

This post may contain affiliate links.

From the book's description...

Detective Inspector Jago investigates, uncovering deception and betrayal

At first glance, the young woman found in the early hours of the morning where bombs have landed is just another casualty of the previous night's air raid. But when the post-mortem shows signs of strangulation, Detective Inspector Jago is called on to investigate.

The dead woman is smartly dressed but carries no identification. However, a local engineering company reports a staff member has failed to appear at work that morning and the body is quickly identified as that of Miss Mary Watkins.

DI Jago's initial interviews yield little fruit; no one can think of a reason why Mary would be murdered. But as the investigation continues DI Jago begins to uncover a trail of deception and betrayal.

When I first began to read Book1 in the series, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The book is in third person, but it's told from the point of view of the inspector, Jago. While this makes sense because the book's author is a man, it was different than other books I've enjoyed. The book also has little character reflection and more action. And I often don't enjoy that kind of book as well.

I ended up really enjoying Direct Hit, however. And Fifth Column has been just as good. Here are a few things I particularly enjoy:

  • The historical time period- World War 2 is always one of my favorite time periods. This book, set in England during the Blitz falls right into the period I find really interesting.
  • The characters- Though the characters in the book don't spend much time in reflection, they are surprisingly well-developed. I feel as if I get to know them through their actions even though I can't hear their thoughts as often.
  • The storyline- There are many historical fiction novels. There are many action/suspense novels. But to set an action/police story right in the middle of war-strewn England is a different concept, one I've never seen done.
  • The mystery- In some suspense novels, the reader knows "whodunnit" before the people in the story. My favorite mysteries are the ones in which I don't figure out what's going on before the characters in the novel. This is one of those. I found myself guessing and changing my mind many times as I tried to solve the case along with Jago.
Fifth Column is another really good read. I give it 5 stars. You can find the book on Kregel here or Amazon here. You can also read a sample from the Kindle version below.

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Looking for a Way to Study the Bible and Deepen Your Walk With God? (And a Bible Study Book Giveaway!)

I've read through the Bible many times. I don't say that to brag because I confess that it's a habit I've developed over the years, and there are times I read when I'm just reading to check it off on my to do list, and I'm not focusing at all. Because I sometimes drift into this reading by habit, I like to take times of not only reading through the Bible but also stopping to do a Bible study that will help me to focus on a part of the Bible or a topic more in depth.

I've recently had the opportunity to look at two new Moody Bible studies for women. If you're looking for an opportunity to study God's Word in a more in depth way, take a look at these two studies. At the end of the post, you can enter to win one of them.

Women's Bible studies

An Unexplainable Life

About the study

An Unexplainable Life women's Bible studyAn Unexplainable Life was written by Erica Wiggenhorn. The study guides women through a fifty-day look at Acts 1-12. The study looks at topics such as the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, and the early church. It's designed to be used as a small group or individual study.

Walking through the book of Acts, the author leads women into considering the early church and the movement of the Holy Spirit within it. In each week, readers will take a look at the unexplainable change, courage, mission, vision, expansion, unity, God, and discipleship of the people in the early church.

How it works

The book is divided into ten weeks, each week with five days of reading and study. Each day has a Scripture reading from a part of Acts, commentary, stories, and illustrations from the author, and questions to be answered.

The author recommends that the passages for each day be read aloud. The questions that are to be answered are in blue. Some of them are more basic questions, while some encourage thought and application. On some pages there are blue boxes where the reader can sketch or doodle or draw thoughts and reflections from that lesson.

The study can be used with a group as well. There is a free resource listed within the book's introduction that will help a group leader know what questions are best used for group discussion. There is also a Deeper Discoveries resource at the author's website where the reader can find opportunities to dig deeper and learn more.

I Am Found

About the Study

I Am Found women's Bible studyI Am Found was written by Laura Dingman. The study is a six-week study designed to help women look beyond shame and realize their true identity in Christ. The study guides women into looking at the power of shame and fear, the desire that we all have to truly be known and accepted, and our real identity in Christ.

The weekly lessons look at topics such as why we feel shame, who we're hiding from, our identity in Christ, and being found and loved by Christ.

How it works

The study is divided into six weeks. Each week has five days of reading and study and then a Truth, Lies, and Action section that guides readers into listing truths learned from God's Word this week, lies in their own lives revealed through the week, and actions that they'll take as a result of what's been learned.

Each week, readers have a Bible verse or two to memorize. The week begins with an introduction to read. Then each day has reading, along with questions in blue. The studies aren't based off of certain passages of Scripture. Instead there is an introduction from the author and questions in blue throughout the day's reading. Within these discussion questions, readers will read Bible passages and answer questions about them.

The authors of both studies write in a personable way, and working through the studies is like talking to a friend, not reading through a Bible textbook. If you're looking for more of an expository study, An Unexplained Life is a good one because of the way it walks through the book of Acts, chapter by chapter, taking time for the reader to consider and learn from each section.

If you are looking for a good topical study, I Am Found covers a topic that so many of us struggle with as women- shame over not fitting, the desire to hide and not be noticed, and a need to find our identity in Christ.

You can enter to win one of these studies below. I'll be giving away one copy of each to two winners. Enter the Giveaway Tools giveaway below.

Giveaway of two women's Bible studies from Moody

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.

Review of Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

I love historical fiction that introduces me to a time period of which I wasn't very familiar or from which I learn more about a time or event that I already was aware of on a superficial level. I especially love it when an author can weave a great story out of that setting and time period. Sigmund Brouwer does this in Saffiire.

Review of Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

This post may contain affiliate links.

From the book's description...

I reminded myself that once you start to defend someone, it’s difficult to find a place to stop. But I went ahead and took that first step anyway. . .

For President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to ‘let the dirt fly’ and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats.

It’s in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt begins to protect a defenseless girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course—or bring an end to it.

A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire brings to life the most impressive-and embattled- engineering achievement of the twentieth-century.

Right away I was intrigued with the setting and time period. I read a biography of Teddy Roosevelt this past year, and I was interested in his life. That alone was enough to draw me to want to read the book.

Saffire is narrated by the main character- James Holt. I liked him right away. He's a cowboy who is blunt and matter of fact. He's not afraid to say what he's thinking. And we learn in the first chapter that he has a daughter waiting for him at home and that he's kind.

The story drew me in right away, and I was especially interested because the plot was so different than that of other books I've read. There were several elements going on- a mystery that seemed to get deeper and deeper for James, a love story that is developing, and the historical element of the building of the canal that is mentioned throughout as James experiences it.

The book is rich in description, and I was thoroughly drawn in. I can definitely recommend this, and I'll be looking for other books by Sigmund Brouwer.

I give Saffire 5 strong stars. You can find it on Amazon here, and you can read a Kindle sample below.

Visit As We Walk Along the Road for homeschool support and encouragement.