AUTHORS, BOOK REVIEWS, RACHEL HAUCK

THE WRITING DESK – by Rachel Hauck

THE WRITING DESK

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RACHEL HAUCK

 The Writing Desk

by Rachel Hauck

 

Ebook: 418 pages, Publisher: Zondervan (July 11, 2017).

ISBN: 0310341590 & ASIN: B01MRJJ0N2. Price: $10.90

 

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck is about the connected multigenerational stories of two lady writers from two different eras and two very different worlds, separated by relentless time and fiery circumstances, who achieve their goals with indomitable courage, defying all odds and braving obstacles. Fate binds them together irrevocably in a way time cannot erase. This faith-based book, with its beautifully integrated spiritual content, has wide-spread appeal for its extremely meaningful story, well-developed characters, intriguing storylines and surprise plot twists, blending the mysterious past with the predictable present, to create a captivating tale of enduring love, strong faith, forgiveness, and the beauty of second chances.

BOOK REVIEWS

THE WEDDING CHAPEL by Rachel Hauck

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THE WEDDING CHAPEL by Rachel Hauck

The 60 year old Wedding Chapel has had no weddings. Will there ever be one? Is it too late for true love?

Stay near to the heart beat of God, where the eternal flame of love glows forever, and where the heartbeat of true love beats eternally.

In a huge labor of love, hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook built a wedding chapel for the love of his life, Collette Greer, in 1949. In a peculiar twist of fate, they grow apart, and 60 painful years have to pass until……

This is a poignant story of rare second chances, with love, faith and blessings, treasured away in the beating heart of an obscure chapel that holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Rediscover the heartbeat of dreams in “The Wedding Chapel” where true love, eternally young, comes alive, even after 60 years!

Matters come to a desperate head when a realtor tries to acquire the land the chapel is built on, and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto the sad, haunted history of the Wedding Chapel.

Photographer Taylor Branson, from Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, tries to make a life for herself in New York. Falling in love with Jack Gillingham, they have a whirlwind romance and elopement. Taylor battles with severe doubts about her marriage, while Jack, who genuinely loves Taylor, does not know how to show her he really cares.

An old letter from Taylor’s deceased Grandma Peg surfaces from the rubbles of hidden family secrets to unlock the secret to Taylor’s own heart. She takes up an assignment to photograph an obscure Wedding Chapel in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee.

Taylor finds herself on a peculiar mission to convince Jimmy to save the Wedding Chapel, where she hears the heartbeat of God, beating through the heart of the Wedding Chapel, confirming what Jimmy himself had heard on countless occasions.

Taylor finds true love, forgiveness and healing, hidden in the wings of time, and waiting in the heart of the Wedding Chapel, for herself and Jack, as well as for Jimmy and Collette.

“The Wedding Chapel”, well worth every waiting moment of 60 painful years, finally witnesses two love-fulfilled weddings.

Rachel Hauck paints a glorious picture of how God requires our complete surrender, fully dependent on Him, to bless us.

 

© Miriam Jacob

BOOK REVIEWS

ARMS OPEN WIDE by Sherri Gragg, reviewed by Miriam Jacob

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Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ISBN-13: 978-1400323463

Date: May 13, 2014

Jesus redeems sinners to give us a Father’s wholehearted love and unconditional acceptance. Christ gives hope to the hurting. Arms Open Wide’s thirty-four day devotions invitingly calls us to come to Christ just as we are, broken and bleeding, crying to be healed and made whole. Here is a strong clarion call to us to linger in Christ’s presence, imbibe His grace and share His fragrance with the world.

As you share Christ’s life in these spiritually-enriching devotionals, you will be gloriously touched, healed and blessed by the Divine Healer of our souls. Jesus is alive! He is right here with you. Experience His power and taste His love. Your life will be totally transformed. You will know Him in a personal way like never before. You will be saved by grace!

The life and times of Jesus Christ are graphically portrayed in the fictional narrative form. It was a time in history unlike any other. Biblical history is interspersed with Scripture to create a dramatic setting that transports readers back in time, to place them in Christ’s presence. In Arms Open Wide, Biblical traditions and customs come to life to help us experience Jesus’ life and the miracles He performed. The Biblical fiction gets us into the first-century mindset. This is a creative work strongly rooted in research.

Walk with the Savior to witness miracle healings. Get fresh new insight into His power. See lives instantly transformed by His love and grace. Feel the compassion and kindness of Jesus. Taste the love, grace and forgiveness our Savior offers. Engage in a first-person experience to walk with Jesus face to face.

Terrified at the tender, impressionable age of four, when she heard a powerful sermon on the eternal damnation of the soul without Jesus, the fragile infancy of Sherri’s faith was wrongly founded on a false and flawed view of Christ as a harsh Judge. The deep-rooted fear and misunderstanding of God robbed her of her talents, making her feel unwanted and unworthy. Feeling unloved and unlovable, this bitter cloud overshadowed her next forty years.

Although Sherri started to write early, she doubted herself far too much to permit anyone else to read what she wrote. If God was angry with her, how could anyone else accept her? Such falsehoods about God drowned her in utter fear and despair. Even when she knew the truth in her head, she struggled to deal with the lies in her heart, grievously inflicted by the devil.

When Sherri was forty-one years old, on an eye-opening trip to Israel, she got the rare chance to interpret Scripture through its highly colorful, cultural lens. Suddenly a light shone in her soul and her shackled heart and mind cast off its cruel chains. She saw Christ through the eyes of a Middle Eastern peasant.

Scripture came alive for Sherri as she saw at the heart of humanity, a bleeding Savior, the only begotten Son of God, pouring out His life’s blood in costly love to save us all. And Sherri loved Him! She instantly gave her first love to Him who had given His all for her.

Sherri Gragg is amazingly candid about the gaping wounds of childhood and how God alone can heal us. Sherri ’s prayer for you is that “you’ll experience the same living and loving Savior as I have, and that you will truly know He stands with arms open wide to welcome you into His Father’s kingdom just as you are.”

With the passionate words of a gifted, talented storyteller and the kind, compassionate and understanding heart of a teacher, Sherri takes us on a soul-revealing journey through the heart of God to be transformed by Jesus.

Jesus Christ, Master of the Wind and the Waves, lifted His eyes to see the restless sea of suffering humanity surge towards Him, wave after wave, in a prolonged series of human tidal waves. And still they came, and nothing could arrest the flow of passionate humanity seeking the Master.

The Sea of Galilee appeared tinted in different hues, at first golden in the waning light of the setting sun and then silvery in the soft majestic glory of the rising moon. A gentle breeze blew softly. It was serene and peaceful on a clear evening when the sky was painted gold in technicolor.

Out on the open water, a boat rocked gently, lulled by the steady breeze and the gentle swishing of the waves. The moon rose high, painting the water silver with its light. Slowly, stars began to pierce the night sky.

A fierce gust of wind rose, rocking the boat violently. Dark clouds obscured the moon and the stars. Jagged lightning zigzagged to illuminate the clouds. The normally tranquil lake answered the violent call of the storm as it bowed to gale-force winds that threatened to blow everything apart.

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” – (Mark 4:38).

Soon, the waves were six feet high, spewing tall mountains of white ocean foam in its wake. The roar of the wind rose in all its turbulent fury. A flash of lightning illuminated the swirling sea, painting a morbid landscape.

“Quiet! Be Still!” – (Mark 4:39). Suddenly, the wind died down and the sea grew calm.

“Why are you so afraid? “Do you still have no faith?” – (Mark 4:40).

The clouds beat a steady retreat and a foamy blanket of stars, silhouetted by a pale moon, appeared in the clear sky. The surface of the lake now shone smooth as glass and silvery in the soft glow of the moon.

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41).

As ‘the Untouchable One,’ she waits like a lonely specter, invisible to life, alone and forgotten, the most hopeless of them all. Condemned for a crime she did not commit. Her haven had become her prison. Her precious life was ebbing away, as the lifeblood that should have sustained her, seeped away into oblivion. She breathes the air of death. Even heaven is silent on her sad plight. Has God forgotten her, His beloved child?

Suddenly she hears that a Healer, a Miracle Worker, is coming. His name is Jesus. He walks in a sea of humanity, the Son of man. Her pulse quickens as the most desperate plea of her heart pulsates with hope through every cell of her being.

Could Jesus heal her? She was the most hopeless of all sick people, whom no doctors on earth could ever heal.

Each devotional closes with a beautiful, heartfelt prayer, the simple soul-searching cry of Sherri’s own heart. Journey with Jesus in the most important time in history. Your heart will be deeply moved and your life instantly transformed by His love and grace as you walk with the Savior as never before. He stands with Arms Open Wide to welcome you home, just as you are!

Miriam Jacob


 

BOOK REVIEWS

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

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Zondervan
Nov 10 2015

“Whispers in the Reading Room” by Shelley Gray is a fast-moving, well-paced-out, action-packed thriller, full of romantic suspense, dramatic intrigue and mystery. Lydia Bancroft ‘s job as a librarian is her entire world until a mysterious dark-haired, dark-eyed patron instantly captures her heart. Lydia is both fascinated and captivated. She observes him so intently. They are kindred spirits. She cannot help herself. He intrigues her, even without speaking. He is Lydia’s favorite patron. He gazes at her directly, his intent dark-brown eyes sharply focused, missing nothing. He is a man who, in the most uncanny way, makes her feel the loss of his presence.

In the quiet peace of the library, his mind drifts back to Lydia. She makes him feel protective. He does not want to know her too well. As her rescuer, Lydia finally discovers his name, Sebastian Marks. He lives in a prestigious hotel and everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him. They have a very delicate friendship. Shocked to learn that he is the proprietor of an infamous club, one fateful night, Lydia is a suspect to a murder. Whom can she trust? Is Sebastian Marks innocent? Is he what her heart believes him to be? Lydia must find out before it is too late.

With a desperate cry, lonely, confused and hurt, a terribly frightened Lydia finds herself in his arms, feeling a warm embrace. She feels so calm and secure that she looks up in wonder. His deep voice whispers comfortingly. He holds her close, so securely and intimately. Lydia stares into his dark-blue eyes, focused directly on her. She cannot help herself. She stares at her rescuer. He pauses patiently. His hand rests in midair. She is as fragile as a bird. His presence was so powerful that she feels caught in his embrace.

“No harm will come to you,” he assures her. She instinctively believes him. She will be safe with him. She will not be hurt. Without thinking, she makes her decision. It will not be without consequences. Lydia complies instantly, surrendering herself to his aid, allowing her life to change. It is not a logical decision. It makes no sense at all. But Lydia does not care. It is her life. She will make her own decisions, guided only by her conscience, which will never err.

BOOK REVIEWS

ANGEL IN MY ROOM by Betty Collier

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Angel In My Room is a heartwarming story of hope and life. Betty Collier transforms profound moments in reality into emotionally-moving words to captivate readers. Do you have an angel in your life, a testimony that when you face tragic times, there is still something that can move you to give you new hope and inspired faith. Here is an uplifting story of love, compassion and forgiveness. It is the second book in Betty’s Living Inside the Testimony Series.

Through turbulent times of depression and torment, Lillie battles for God. She finally comes to realize God’s plan for her and how she can help others to deal with their pain. This book tugs at our heartstrings and inspires so many people through one solitary woman’s journey, her severe heartache and bitter pain, her personal sacrifice, and her ultimate devotion to God. It is such a moving story and many people can relate to Lillie’s heartache, pain and suffering to move past the agony and despair. This book will change people’s lives forever. It is for all people in all walks of life. Lillie’s passionate story will touch hearts and lives for God’s glory.

AUTHORS, BOOK REVIEWS, ERIC METAXAS, HARPERCOLLINS CHRISTIAN PUBLISHING, THOMAS NELSON

Seven Women And The Secret Of Their Greatness – by Eric Metaxas

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Hardcover: 256 pages, Publisher: Thomas Nelson,

Sept. 8, 2015, ISBN-13: 978-0718021832. Price: $24.99


PUBLISHERS SYNOPSIS

What Makes a Great Woman Great?

Eric Metaxas tells the captivating stories of seven women who changed the course of history.

Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa — each of these world-changing figures follows the call placed on her life, doing so with remarkable feminine dignity. Teenaged Joan of Arc heard God’s command and led the French army to a mighty victory over the British. Hannah More played a crucial role in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Corrie ten Boom risked her life to hide Dutch Jews from the Nazis in World War II and somehow survived the horrors of a concentration camp, but her greatest feat was her forgiveness her tormentors years later. And Rosa Parks’s God-given sense of justice and unshakable dignity helped launch the twentieth century’s greatest social movement.

Eric Metaxas reveals how these seven extraordinary women achieved greatness, inspiring readers to lives guided by a call beyond themselves.


REVIEW BY MIRIAM JACOB

In “Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness,” Eric Metaxas presents a unique plumbline by which to measure ourselves. These seven women, true role-models for humanity, show us precious and valuable principles to build our lives on, although we can never aspire to reach their levels of greatness. Here is faith fanned in the fiery furnace of fire, courage in the excruciating crucible of suffering, seven women with the will-power to forsake comforts at all costs, with the sheer boldness to take incalculable risks, having sacrificial compassion for others, imbibing strong convictions to live for and to die by, filled with hope and inspiration.

This should be our heart’s cry – ‘If they could do it, so can do we! Here am I, send me!’ We need to be inspired by God, breathed into by the breath of God, needing the wind of God to blow into our sails. In Seven Women, the breeze billows and blows with the strength of gale-force winds. Through these seven extraordinary women, Eric Metaxas honors all women everywhere to be encouraged in being women and doing what God leads them to do. The unusually rare accomplishments of these seven women, spanning time and transcending the limits of circumstances, have indelibly shaped the world, making it a better place to live in.

A world-class biographer, Eric Metaxas, with his indomitable genius and inimitable gift of expression, portrays true moral greatness, in the lives of these seven great women whose inspiring lives will empower you to impact the world on a large scale. Plant one flower and it will multiply to fill the world with beauty. Who can count the untold millions of people whose hearts have been impacted by the lives of these seven incredible women? As you read these brilliant portraits of exemplary courage, each painted by the Master Artist with a personal vision of God and a voluntary conviction of self-sacrifice, how can you change the world? These seven women could and did, and evil trembled in their presence.

Seven Women inspires women to try to make a difference in society. Through this amazing book, Eric Metaxas encourages the world to reconsider its view of women’s greatness. Eric celebrates these remarkable people, remarkable as women and because they were women. In this inspiring book about women who lived up to their noble missions in the world, Eric Metaxas issues an urgent call to reawaken women to their God-given destiny, imbibed with the moral and spiritual qualities of great leaders. Each of these women delivered such a bracing clarion call to the spirit of their age that very few people could stand before them or match their unique powers. Each represented such a unique profile in courage and determination in their tryst with destiny.

In Seven Women, Eric Metaxas demonstrates his unusual and incredible gift for storytelling. He carefully draws the reader into an informative and historical narrative with a personal touch. With the skillful touch of a talented author, he infuses renewed moral and spiritual insight into these women from across the centuries. People will be greatly inspired by the incredible struggles that gave these women true greatness, the crucibles that refined their characters, sharpening the iron in their souls, and the simple greatness of deep faith of limitless depths.

© Miriam Jacob

BOOK REVIEWS

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

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Thomas Nelson Publishers

ISBN-13: 978-1401689759

November 3, 2015

A talented author pens novels to appeal to a book lover’s heart. With real talent and genuine passion to catch the attention of avid readers, Katherine Reay’s novels are inspired by classic literature and suffused with old-fashioned values to enrich and enhance the journey.

Two women undertake a journey, searching for a new freedom largely beyond their grasp, tantalizingly out of reach. Lucy is an authentic character, admired for her profound change of heart and mind. She has her life together and her work cut out for her– a job in an interior design shop, managing sales of books. When James enters the shop, Lucy knows deep down in her heart, without the shadow of a doubt, that she’s got it all until secrets from her past threaten to plunge her into a bewildering tailspin.

Matters finally come to a halt when Lucy finally realizes that something has to change. She knows in the depths of her own heart that she has to change. When in a sudden twist and turn of events, James’s reclusive grandmother Helen needs a consultant for a London antiques and literary excursion, she hires Lucy who reluctantly agrees. Lucy gets the courage to face her past, takes moral responsibility for her present and attempts to get her life back on fast track. But to her chagrine, Lucy soon discovers that Helen hides secrets of her very own. But nothing can change the fact that Helen understands Lucy better than anyone else.

As they travel across scenic England, Lucy is greatly strengthened by Helen’s abundant wisdom. However, Helen herself confronts ghosts from her own past. A decisive moment of realization comes to a swift head at Haworth, the Brontë sisters’ home. Lucy remembers the Brontë sisters’ heroines, who, with great strength, unusual tenacity and resolute wisdom, endured the harshest of conditions. As a result, Lucy delves into her own past, with all its numerous mistakes and regrets, to move forward. She knows with passionate certainty that she will prevail if only she can step into the life that waits patiently for her. It opens up her hurting heart to heal painful wounds and give Lucy a brand new understanding of who she really is. She finds herself and discovers how to love and be loved. She finally discovers what is really important in life and what brings her true joy.  Lucy ultimately grows up.

It is interesting to mention three important points. While Katherine Reay’s first novel used the epistolary format, her second was in first-person and The Brontë Plot uses the third-person format. Although certainly not traditional and not in the contemporary novel’s patterns, this is an added strength and not a weakness that significantly suits the story. Both the scholars and readers of classic literature will be enchanted with this beautiful and unique book.