Book Review

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Jaime Jo Wright’s BEST BOOK YET!

I’ve been following Jaime’s writing journey since her very first novel. With books like The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus and The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond, this author is known for her faith-based but creepy and gothic-feeling stories. On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor was no exception to the eerie, mysterious feel and I LOVED it.

About On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor:

1885: Adria Fontaine has been sent to recover goods her father pirated on the Great Lakes during the war. But when she arrives at Foxglove Manor–a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior–Adria senses wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life.

Present day: Kailey Gibson is a new nurse’s aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Kidnapped as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling promise from her abductors that they would return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. She’ll have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons, including her own.

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Unknown Threat Book Review

Book Review

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Unknown Threat is 300 pages of non-stop action! Right from the very first few pages, I was thrown into this fast-moving story and utterly captivated from start to end. If you love romantic suspense, you’ll want to check out this new series from Lynn H. Blackburn! (Keep reading for my full review!)

About Unknown Threat:

US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He and his team are experts at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she’s assigned. She’s been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke’s life in danger, the stakes have never been higher. But it’s hard to know how to fight back when you don’t know who the enemy is.

Luke has teamed up with Faith before, but he’s not convinced she’s up for the job and she’s not convinced he’s telling her everything he knows. As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to learn to trust each other and work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

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Look at a mother’s hands.

They may not look like much. Hands that were once manicured and polished, are now speckled with colored markers and non-toxic paint. The chips in her nails arrive courtesy of countless Lego stacks pried apart and Paw Patrol stickers scratched off walls. Her hands have seen more loads of laundry than ever thought possible. And her palms have pushed swings and carried coats and gripped stroller handles until they were calloused.

But her hands? Oh, her hands. They are evidence of such deep love.

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It is always an honor to get to share more of our story and help continue the discussion about pregnancy loss. This month, I had the opportunity to chat once again with The 700 Club Canada. The interview was aired on Friday, just before Mother’s Day — which was such special timing. For so many of us, Mother’s Day is full of blended and complex emotions. For those of us who have experienced a pregnancy loss, we feel the weight of what this day could have looked like. But while our babies may not be seen, while we may not get to hold them in our arms or kiss them goodnight, we will always be a mother.

You can watch the interview with The 700 Club below. I had a really lovely time sharing a family update and chatting about my book, Embrace: Clinging to Christ Through the Pain of Pregnancy Loss. To order a copy of Embrace for yourself or a loved one, please feel free to contact me. (Embrace is also available on Amazon, here.)

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Accomplishing milestones in his own time

Accomplishing Milestones In Their Own Time

As a baby in the NICU, it seemed to take our son forever to learn to eat. After seven weeks in the hospital, we were beyond anxious to bring him home. But the nurses simply smiled and said that he wasn’t ready. “He just isn’t strong enough yet.”

And then one day he yanked out his nose tube and decided to bottle feed. They sent him home a day later.

He does things in his own time.

He was fifteen months and wasn’t even crawling yet. He’d just sit there. And then one day, while making dinner, I looked over to see him nonchalantly walking down the hallway by himself. As if he’d been walking for ages.

He does things in his own time.

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Book Review

A Habit Called Faith by Jen Pollock Michel

Rating: 5 out of 5.
A Habit Called Faith book cover

When you think about it, there is much irony found in a bookworm who struggles to read the Scriptures. And yet, there have been countless seasons in life where my Bible reading could be described as inconsistent at best. 2020 wasn’t the first time I’d gotten myself into a devotional rut. And it probably won’t be the last.

So, entering into 2021, I knew that I wanted to carve out space for intentional living within the Word. I needed to re-form better habits. Because my desire was to desire more of Him. I’d just fallen into the habit of choosing one more episode first. Of relegating my devotional time to the final few minutes before bed, exhausted and brain-numbed. Of viewing it as a requirement rather than an act of relationship.

I’m the type of person who thrives off routine and structure. I need checklists and plans to hold me accountable. I need the motivation to say, “I’m going to read even when I’m struggling with it. Especially when I’m struggling.” This year I started participating in a one-year reading plan alongside my local church — and it was exactly what I needed. Finding Jen Pollock Michel’s book, “A Habit Called Faith,” only served to reiterate the work which God had been doing in my life these past few months.

Because the thing is, sometimes we need checklists. Sometimes we need that accountability in order to create habits. He invites us to abide in His Word. To cement our faith in His Holy and Living Scriptures. (And what an awe-inspiring invitation that is!) Because we just need to show up. Intentionally. Actively. Pursuing. In the seasons when it feels dry, and in the season when it feels plentiful. And in that day-to-day act of seeking, transformation happens. Growth abounds.

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Book Review

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

About The Moonlight School:

Moonlight School book cover

(From the publisher) Haunted by personal tragedy, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky. It’s the spring of 1911 and she’s there to assist her cousin, Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of schools. A fish out of water, Lucy is appalled by the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty she encounters.

Born in those very hills, Cora knows the twin plagues of illiteracy and poverty. So does Brother Wyatt, a singing school master who travels through the hills. Involving Lucy and Wyatt, Cora hatches a plan to open the schoolhouses to adults on moonlit nights. The best way to combat poverty, she believes, is to eliminate illiteracy. But will the people come?

As Lucy emerges from a life in the shadows, she finds purpose, along with something else she hadn’t expected: love.

Inspired by true events, this novel from bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings to life the story that shocked the nation into taking adult literacy seriously.

The Moonlight School book set on open journal with white background

This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Reader’s Thoughts

The Moonlight School had me intrigued from the start. Having recently read another book set in Kentucky dealing with the topic of illiteracy, I was excited to see Fisher’s take. Although it took longer than expected to get to the actual “moonlight school” aspect, I loved that this was based on true story. And as an avid bookworm, the topic of literacy is obviously dear to my heart.

The story itself is sweet and full of charm. The book follows Lucy — a young and fairly naïve, city girl. Asked to assist her cousin as a stenographer, Lucy is shocked by the poor conditions she encounters in Rowan County. But as time passes, she discovers the rich and beautiful history and culture within the hills. This personal transformation was well done and I grew to really enjoy her character.

I also adored Finley James and Angie. These teen characters were a really fun way to bring about some of the personality of the mountain people, while weaving in some levity. As for the other characters, I really appreciate when Christian fiction takes the time to set up romantic relationships in an authentic way, and I think the author was able to achieve that here.

While the book touches upon deep poverty, the story is still kept fairly light. For me, this meant missing some of the reality that I was looking for. I do, however, think this would make a great read for teens too. These are the sorts of stories my young heart grew up on. It’s clean, lighthearted and has great historical context.

If you enjoy Christian fiction with lovely characters, a little romance, and a few twists along the way, I think you’ll enjoy The Moonlight School! Want to grab a copy for yourself? You can find The Moonlight School on Amazon here!

**Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group
and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
 All opinions expressed are my own.

When the wounds of this world sting like countless paper cuts against my heart, it’s easy for me to lean into “unforgiveness.” It’s easier for me to bring bitterness, rather than grace, to the table. It’s easy for me to forget that I have been forgiven all.

“But they were wrong. They should apologize to me!” I try to justify my anger. Stewing and steaming, I toss and turn in my bed. Their slights against me dig deeper.

“My child, how much have I forgiven you?” The whisper calls me out of darkness and into the light.

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Some of the things often said to parents after a loss is, “Well, at least you know you can get pregnant” or “It’s okay, you can always have another baby.”

I’m not even going to BEGIN to go into all the reasons why you should avoid saying the above statements to a bereaved family. But I am going to say something that isn’t always acknowledged — not all families get a rainbow baby.

That’s such a heavy truth.

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Take heart, dear friends because God's not done

Dear friend, I don’t know what you’re struggling with today.

I don’t know what battles you’re fighting or what sort of weight you’re carrying. I don’t know what news you’ve received or what valleys you’re slogging through. This world feels heavy sometimes. You may be battle-weary and bloodied from the fight. But take hope, sweet friend. Because God’s not done.

The pages of our lives don’t always read the way we wanted them to. Our life stories are significantly messier, more scarred, and more tearstained than we’d like. And this year, it may feel like you’re sinking — struggling to keep your head above the waves.

But in this midst of this current season — in the disappointment and the rejection, the searing pain and the devastation, the loneliness and the brokenness — I pray for that flickering ember of hope within.

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Things We Didn't Say Cover and Book Review

Book Review
Things We Didn’t Say

by Amy Lynn Green

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Things We Didn’t Say is an impressive debut novel. (I was completely taken aback to discover that it was Green’s first book! It reads like a well-seasoned author.) Full of heart, passion and a little bit of humour, this book is a thoughtful exploration of patriotism, prejudice, and humanity.

About: It’s 1944. Linguistic student, Johanna Berglund, has reluctantly accepted a translator position at a camp for German POWs. As she interacts with the prisoners, translating conversations and censoring their letters home to Germany, she begins to see these men as more than just enemies. But advocating for the soldiers’ better treatment leaves townspeople wondering whose side she’s on. Most patriot citizens want nothing to do with the Germans labouring in the camp, or with those who work there. As the lines between compassion and treason become blurred, Johanna must decide where her heart truly lies.

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Merry Christmas from the Mannegrens!

The Christmas video is something we look forward to every year. (And honestly, it almost didn’t happen this year.) Fortunately, we managed to scrape a little something together that reflects just how crazy and beautiful life has been for us this year.

2020 was a lot. But it also gave us a lot — a new baby, a new home, extra time together as a family. And we have so much to be thankful for. So as we reflect on and celebrate that tiny baby born in a stable, we want to wish a very “Merry Christmas” from our family to yours. May you feel the comfort of Christ holding you close this holiday season, and may we rest in the confident assurance of the glorious hope found in Him.

Want the full, Mannegren family, Christmas video experience? You can find our past productions here:

Twas The Night Before Christmas – 2014
The Toddler Who Stole Christmas – 2015
In Sweden Christmas is Jul – 2016
Mannegren Family Christmas 2017
A New Tradition – 2018
My Letter To Santa — 2019