Category Archives: WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

The Governess of Highland Hall cover artTitle: The Governess of Highland Hall

Author: Carrie Turansky

Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah

Book Description:

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Review:

Julia Foster has spent the last twelve years in India, working with her missionary parents. Due to her father’s illness, she and her family have returned to England. Now Julia must work to support her parents. She becomes the governess at Highland Hall, despite her new employer’s reservations. Sir William Ramsey is desperate for a good governess for his two young children and his teenaged cousins, as well as a way to save the large estate he inherited. Although he finds a good governess, albeit a rather young one, he still can’t seem to find a way to raise enough money to save Highland Hall. When a young American heiress enters the picture, she offers the money he needs for the estate, but is he willing to forsake love and marry just to save Highland Hall?

From the start, Julia was a rather perfect character. Even in her flaws she showed perfection. She has a habit of speaking her mind rather bluntly at times, but she instantly regrets speaking so plainly when she would have been better off thinking a little longer before saying anything. Her pious nature, while admirable, becomes somewhat grating after a while. So does the fact that she instantly becomes the favorite person of nearly every major character and appears to be something of a superhero in that others often comment that they don’t know what they would do without her and that things are ever so much better now that she’s there. While this could be believable, when it happens a week into the people knowing her, it’s a little overblown.

Then there’s William, baronet and master of Highland Hall. His main concern throughout most of the book is money and how he is going to raise enough to pay the ridiculously high death duties for inheriting the estate. His other big concern is how society will view him and his family and whether he can maintain Highland Hall so he will be acceptable to the upper class. While his money woes make sense, it doesn’t make sense that a man so concerned with appearances would share his financial difficulties with so many people, including his newly hired governess and the overbearing aunt of his two young cousins, a woman he can’t stand.

The rest of the characters are a mixed bag, ranging from lovely yet timid to downright unbearable. The housekeeper in particular is a character I kept hoping would get fired. William’s sister Sarah could have benefitted from her own book, but her story did play a significant role in this one.

Between William’s constant worry about finances and appearances, Julia’s extreme piety mixed with a longing to return to India, and all the drama of the servants, it’s a wonder anything ever got resolved. The story dragged on with the same concerns repeated over and over and the same general nasty attitudes shown time and again until I wondered if the story would ever end. Even when the big conflict appeared, it only served to strengthen the concerns and attitudes already shown.

The message of faith and trusting God is a strong one. At times, it felt as though I was being preached to, but at other times the characters’ faith felt genuine. Honestly, I preferred the head gardener’s quiet faith to Julia’s in-your-face version, but just as in real life, each person has their own way of living out their love for the Lord.

It is a well-written historical novel that does an excellent job of depicting the time period and the struggles faced by many families, as well as the occasional strife between servants and family. If you enjoy novels set in the time just before World War I, you may enjoy this one. Unfortunately, as much as I love Downton Abbey and stories of a similar vein, this just was not the book for me.

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Filed under Christian, Fiction, Historical, Romance, Series, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Martyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brouwer

Martyr's Fire cover artTitle: Martyr’s Fire (Book Three, Merlin’s Immortals)

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Book Description:

Will this dangerous quest lead the outcast Orphan King toward an ancient secret—or to certain destruction? 

Posing as a beggar, Thomas escapes Magnus after fifteen men, who are calling themselves the Priests of the Holy Grail, arrive and take control of the castle through wondrous acts and apparent miracles. With the help of his longtime friend Gervaise, Thomas sets out on a journey that leads him to the ancient Holy Land. Unaware that Katherine and Hawkwood are watching over him, Thomas is tested in his beliefs and comes face to face with the ancient power that the Merlins and Druids have long been searching for.Enter the world of Merlin’s Immortals, where ancient secrets and evil conspiracies take you on a breathless adventure of discovery, intrigue, and hidden knowledge.

Review:

In this third book of the Merlin’s Immortals series, Thomas must face new challenges and dangers in his quest to rule and protect Magnus from the Druids. He also must take a leap of faith — a difficult task for a young man who values physical proof and things he can see. But when battling unseen enemies and trying to uncover hidden secrets, sometimes faith is all one can rely on.

Throughout the book treachery, secrets, and mysteries all lead Thomas to one big question: who can he trust? Katherine and Hawkwood face a similar dilemma. Can they trust Thomas, or is he their enemy? These questions and more circle round and round, each time drawing a little closer to an answer. Then, just when they think they know where to place their trust, something happens to make them question others’ loyalty once more.

The twists and turns in Martyr’s Fire keep the reader waiting with bated breath to discover what will happen next. Just when you think you know how events will unfold, the author throws in something that makes you question everything you thought you knew about the story. The high adventure and fast-paced action will keep you turning pages late into the night.

If you have read the first two books in the Merlin’s Immortals series, you should definitely read this book. If you haven’t started reading the series yet, you should pick up a copy of The Orphan King immediately and be prepared to read the next two books as well. This series will grab your attention, pull you into the story of Thomas and his quest for Magnus, and leave you wanting more.

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Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Series, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Young Adult

Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley

Living the Quaker Way cover artTitle: Living the Quaker Way

Author: Philip Gulley

Publisher: Convergent Books

Book Description:

Philip Gulley invites us into a bracing encounter with the rich truths of Quakerism—a centuries-old spiritual tradition that provides not only a foundation of faith but also vision for making the world more just, loving, and peaceable by our presence.

In Living the Quaker Way, Gulley shows how Quaker values provide real solutions to many of our most pressing contemporary challenges. We not only come to a deeper appreciation of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality, we see how embracing these virtues will radically transform us and our world.

Living the Quaker Way includes a 30-day spiritual practice that applies the Quaker tradition of Queries.

Review:

When I first saw this book, I was excited to have a chance to read it for two reasons: one, I have read and enjoyed Mr. Gulley’s writing before; and two, I come from a long line of Quakers and hoped this book would give me insight into what they believed. Once I started reading the book, however, I quickly realized that the way my conservative, Bible-based Quaker ancestors believed and what Mr. Gulley described are similar but two very different things.

The first chapter endeavors to answer the question, “What is a Quaker?” Although it seems like a straightforward question that would be simple to answer, the reality is far different. Based on what I read in that chapter, it appears being a Quaker (and even what makes one a Quaker) means many things to many people. There is no simple definition, not even one based on sharing the same beliefs, as evidenced by the fact that there are Quakers who are atheists as well as those who firmly believe in God. Mr. Gulley puts forth a valiant effort to offer an all-inclusive definition of the apparently undefinable. As a result, he presents readers with this statement: “Despite our differences, most all of us agree that to be a Quaker is to live out as best we can the virtues of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality.”

The remainder of the book is dedicated to explaining each of those virtues. Each chapter contains examples from Mr. Gulley’s life, other Quakers, and ideals of what the world could be if everyone embraced the Quaker way of life. While packed with information presented in an easy-to-read format and suggestions we would all do well to take to heart, there were several statements I (as a conservative Christian) disagreed with. At times, I wondered if the Quaker religion still values the Bible and the teachings contained therein. The liberal ideas presented by Mr. Gulley made it clear to me that I would not be comfortable in many Quaker meetings because of the differences in their beliefs and mine. However, reading this book was an eye-opening experience for me, one I appreciate having the opportunity to enjoy.

For someone questioning their beliefs or dissatisfied with their current religion, this book could be a wonderful resource. Those who want to make the world a better place will appreciate the insights shared. However, if you are a conservative Christian like me and believe the Bible teaches truth and is a guidebook for our lives, this book may be disappointing in some of its suggestions and descriptions of both the author’s beliefs and the beliefs of the Quaker religion as a whole.

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Gone South by Meg Moseley

Gone South cover artTitle: Gone South

Author: Meg Moseley

Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah

Book Description:

The charm of the South drew her back to her family’s roots. But when the town’s old resentments turn the sweet tea bitter, can Tish find a welcome anywhere?

Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident. Now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream— the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.

When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.

Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.

Review:

Tish McComb grew up in Michigan, but her ancestors have ties to Noble, Alabama. Proud of her McComb heritage, she’s thrilled when the house her ancestors built comes up for sale at an affordable price. After all, what could be better than a McComb owning the McComb house once more? It doesn’t take Tish long to realize that not every Yankee is welcome in the south, and that not everyone remembers what happened in the good ol’ days of yesteryear the same way. Add in the town outcast, a local antique dealer, and a tiny dog that can’t seem to remember where home is, and you have a fast-paced story filled with long memories and small town drama.

Gone South is a wonderful blend of Yankee straightforwardness and southern charm, while not shying away from some of the less pleasant parts of small town life. Judgmental attitudes threaten relationships and hurt more than they help. Stories from the bleak days after the end of the Civil War may not be as accurate as everyone believes. Rumors spread like wildfire and taint possible relationships before they even begin.

Yet Ms. Moseley managed to weave a thread of hope throughout even the darkest parts of the book, keeping up the cheerful outlook Tish brings to the story. On the rare occasions Tish’s optimism slips, someone else is right there to pick it up. George, in particular, complements Tish nicely. When one is feeling pessimistic, the other offers a reason to hope. The balance between them is handled beautifully, but there are enough bumps in the road to make the friendship believable. Mel has a humongous chip on her shoulder, but not without good reason. As she tries to find her place in the world, it becomes clear that this young woman has endured a lot in her life. The challenges she faces are realistically portrayed, which adds to the depth and drama of the story.

If you love books with small town settings and plenty of drama to keep you turning the pages, I recommend Gone South.

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Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer

Fortress of Mist cover artTitle: Fortress of Mist (Book Two, Merlin’s Immortals)

Author: Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Book Description:

The throne is redeemed, but the battle is just beginning.          

In the dark corners of an ancient land, evil lurks in the shadows. Powerful druids haunt the spaces of their lost territory. Double-minded noblemen fight for domain and influence. Invaders from the north threaten the kingdom of Magnus. This land of promise and redemption is mired in deceit and corruption.

The Orphan King, once victorious in conquest, appears to be losing his grip on his seat of power. Thomas rules Magnus, but does not know whom he can trust. His enemies anticipate his every move, thwarting him at each turn. Something is not right.

Under attack, both in the supernatural and natural worlds, Thomas must reach back into the secret layers of his past to find the strength and wisdom to fight his battles. When the mist clears, who will stand with him?

Review:

The battle between good and evil continues in Fortress of Mist. The more Thomas of Magnus searches for answers, the more questions he finds. Each person he wants to trust holds secrets they refuse to reveal, leaving Thomas unable to trust anyone but himself. And through it all, he must fight to hold onto Magnus, a goal that seems hopeless when he has to face it alone.

Once again, Sigmund Brouwer has written an intriguing book full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end. The depth of Thomas’s emotions make it easy to step into his shoes and experience the events of the story along with him. Katherine’s longing to reveal everything to Thomas and her feelings for him bring the reader close to her and make it easy to want her to find a happy ending. Yet the book ends with a cliffhanger that leaves you longing to read the next book just to find out where the story goes next.

The theme of faith is artfully woven throughout the book. In the battle between good and evil, Thomas must choose which side to fight for. It is not always an easy choice, nor is the choice always clear at first glance. Thomas, though still resistant to Christianity, steadfastly analyzes each option presented to him and chooses in ways that indicate the beginnings of faith. His questions and doubts remain, however, lending him a relatable struggle that many face when struggling with whether to turn to God.

The intrigue, excitement, and believable challenges make this book easy to enjoy. If you’re looking for an adventure in which you will lose yourself until the end, I recommend Fortress of Mist.

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Filed under Christian, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Series, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, Young Adult

Coming October 2 – Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

Coming October 2, 2012 from WaterBrook Press – Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic.

Unstoppable cover artBook Description:

Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic.  Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships.  Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

But how does that happen?  In Unstoppable Nick addresses adversity and difficult circumstances that many people face today, including:

·         Personal crises
·         Relationship issues
·         Career and job challenges
·         Health and disability concerns
·         Self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and addictions
·         Bullying, persecution, cruelty, and intolerance
·         Balance in body, mind, heart, and spirit
·         Service to others

Through stories from his own life and the experiences of many others, Nick explains how anyone wanting a “ridiculously good life” can respond to these issues and more to become unstoppable. What’s standing in your way?  Are you ready to become unstoppable?

Read the first chapter excerpt here.

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Your Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic

Your Life Without Limits (10-PK) cover artTitle: Your Life Without Limits (10-PK)

Author: Nick Vujicic

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Book Description:

You Can’t Control What Happens to You…
But You Can Control How You Will Respond!

As a teenager Nick Vujicic wondered how he ever could have a “normal life.”  Born without arms and legs, Nick questioned how he would finish school, find a job, enjoy relationships, and not be a burden to others.  He even contemplated suicide before realizing that his challenges did not need to limit his life.

In Your Life Without Limits, Nick tells why circumstances should not rule your life and how to grab hold of the hope that changes everything for the better.

Look for Nick Vujicic’s inspiring, full-length books Life Without Limits and Unstoppable.

Review:

This booklet provides a brief glimpse into the struggles and hope of Nick Vujicic, a man born without arms or legs. Your Life Without Limits is a companion work to Vujicic’s book Life Without Limits. Themes of encouragement, faith, and hope are evident throughout this booklet. Written with a conversational tone, readers feel as though Vujicic is speaking directly to them.

His story is one that inspires people to overcome whatever challenges they may face and thrive in the lives God gave them. By sharing some of his experiences, thoughts, and beliefs, Vujicic helps readers put their challenges in perspective and learn to look outside of themselves for the hope to lead good, fulfilling lives. The simple fact that he has overcome great obstacles and thrives as a speaker and author is enough to encourage people.

Vujicic speaks directly to readers at times, giving the feeling that he is speaking to friends rather than strangers. He offers ways of coping with feelings of hopelessness, as well as giving readers suggestions for how to help themselves by helping others. By the end of the booklet, readers come away with the knowledge that hope is a mainstay in Vujicic’s life and that hope enables people to overcome whatever obstacles may appear in their lives.

If you’re questioning God’s purpose for your life or feeling overwhelmed by the challenges in your life, or you just want to read an uplifting story, I highly recommend Your Life Without Limits.

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