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Chocolate is very welcome on Valentine’s Day. It tastes so good. (OK, it tastes better than good. Words are just inadequate to describe chocolate.) I’m just glad Valentine’s day is next Thursday. Maybe there will still be some chocolate left in the bag for me to distribute. Flowers are a great gift too. I’m always surprised and delighted to see them when I walk into the room where they are.

But a novel with fun, intriguing characters and a romantic theme is a meal for my heart. And if that book speaks of and shows me God’s love being played out, fleshed out, in human lives, that book becomes a feast for my soul.

My short answer to what to give a special young person on Valentine’s Day–a romance novel. (But don’t skip the chocolate. People do enjoy eating something while reading.)

I chose some books for you to consider from the ones we’ve liked.  It is only a sampling. Click on “Select Category” on the left to find other book reviews.


Dear My. Knightley

Even Now

Love at Any Cost

Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii

Love Letters, The

Once Upon a Time

Pearl in the Sand

Secret of Pembrooke Park, The

With Every Letter

Wonder of You, The


21 Days of Love, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet (2016) is a must-read for Valentine’s Day. It is creative, heartwarming and insightful. Not your ordinary collection of flowers and romance, this book shares true-to-life tales of all different types of love, focusing on God’s love as the primary and most important of all. Women, ages 18 and above, will find this a good read.

There are twenty-one amazing stories with a wide range of relationships–sweethearts, spouses, parents and children, grandparents, friends, pets, caregivers and couples from other countries. I enjoyed reading each story and learned something from each one. The main theme of the book is that God should be the center of all relationships. With His guiding hand, all love relationships will be greatly enhanced. I would like to highlight a few of my favorite stories.

The story I could relate to the most, A Finger and a Big Toe, by Nancy Ellen Hird, is about a young mother who is troubled because no matter how hard she tries, the woman she wants to have a significant relationship with, isn’t responding with equal interest. I think this is a common issue in the friendships among women. We often seek a friendship with someone and are disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way we had planned.

Becky and Carla are good friends, but Becky also is seeking the friendship of Jennifer, a woman she works with in a volunteer organization and whom she admires greatly. She tries unsuccessfully to reach out to Jennifer and make time for them to get to know each other. When Jennifer doesn’t respond, Becky is upset.

While at a church event with Carla, Becky sees Jennifer and learns that Jennifer and her family are planning to move in the near future. Becky is stunned. On the way home, she tells Carla about her disappointment.

Carla gives encouraging advice and shows Becky that perhaps God had a reason for preventing the friendship to blossom. Becky realizes how blessed she is with a friend like Carla, and learns an age-old lesson of trust and obedience to God’s plan. I believe this story can encourage others to place God at the center of their relationships.

Another story I particularly liked is Desert Crossing, by Dona Watson. It is the story of Lori, the mother of a nineteen year-old son named Josh. Her husband David is away with the military, deployed in the Middle East. As the story begins, Josh has gotten into some trouble with drugs and has had to spend a night in jail. Lori is hoping and praying for his safe return home. She settles into bed, praying and crying out to God for both her husband and son.

Soon she hears a door open. She believes Josh has come home. It turns out to be her husband David. Lori is thrilled he has returned and thankful they can face the challenges with their son together. After a happy greeting, she takes him to the kitchen to make him a meal and explain about their son.

Shortly after that, Josh returns and is overjoyed to see his father. He admits he was wrong and agrees to get help for his problem. The family is reunited with a sense of hope for the future.

Every story in this little book is encouraging and well-written. I loved the variety of characters. There is even a story about a little dog. This book would be a great one to read, and also would make a wonderful gift.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her children and grandchildren. Her two daughters, two sons, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and two granddaughters are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”



In the United States, February is designated Black History Month. The month has been set aside to make better known and to honor the African-American experience in the US. The following books  enlightened and inspired us and so we share them with you. (Clicking on the titles will take you to the review.)

The Adventures of Pearley Monroe. Written for upper elementary school kids, this novel centers around Pearley Monroe, an African-American boy living in California in the latter half of the 19th century. The novel gives young readers a glimpse of his family life and the small town of Coloma, California, where he lives.

Didn’t We Have Fun! The paintings of Hilda Robinson and the text of Jeff Kunkel invite you into the world of Ms. Robinson’s childhood. Her world is that of a large African-American family and a tight-knit urban community in Philadelphia, during the late 1940’s. It is a time before television and computers. Family life, reading, radio, movies, picnics and church are the sources of Robinson’s pleasure and delight.

George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. Many books have been written about George Washington Carver. This one is recommended because of the smooth flow of the story connecting the many remarkable events of Carver’s life. The reader gets a strong sense of his personality, faith, and the motivations that carried him through difficult times. Part of the Heroes of History series, it is a great candidate for a book report, but it is also a fascinating read in its own right.

Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition follows the lives and careers of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. In a time when few women entered professions in math or science and when African Americans were being actively excluded from many arenas of American life, these four women broke through barriers because of their intelligence, character, fortitude and vision.

Meet Addy: An American Girl is a great book about the Civil War from the eyes of a child slave. Addy learns a valuable lesson about growing up. The novel has a brief history of American slavery and the Civil War. The book is suggested for ages 7 and up. However, Kristina believes it is more appropriate for children ages 9 and up.  The book will interest people of all cultures.

7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. In this book, best-selling author Eric Metaxas tells of seven men who allowed God to use them as a vessel to do great things. Some changed the course of human history; some stood up when no one else would; and, all made a sacrifice for faith. Jackie Robinson is one of those men. The other six featured in the book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John Paul II and Charles W. Colson.

Why We Can’t Wait. Authored by Martin Luther King, Jr. and first published in 1964, Why We Can’t Wait gives readers insight into this watershed moment in American history from the pen of one of its most influential and principled proponents. It is, in essence, a literary time capsule for the year of 1963. Dr. King opens by describing the worldview and tragic socioeconomic circumstances of the average African-American of that time.

William Wilberforce, Take Up the Fight may also be of interest. In the latter part of the 18th century, Wilberforce, as a member of Parliament, championed the end of the slave trade. The life of William Wilberforce is an important story for children to read. This biography is suited for upper elementary, middle school, and high school audiences. Although the subject matter—slavery—is harsh, the writers deal with it skillfully. They make the evils abundantly clear without graphic description.

Guess Who’s Coming? written by Carol Green, illustrated by Ron Clelland and published by Carol Green and Ron Clelland (2018), is a short picture book about the arrival of a new baby. It is best suited for two- to four-year-olds. It is colorful, cute, and full of animals, which children love.

It begins by asking the question, “Can you guess who’s coming to your house?” Then it proceeds to go through a list of animals and finally tells us that it is “God’s Special Delivery. . . . A Baby.”

Young children love simplicity, colors, animals and humor. This little book contains it all. There is a Bible verse included, which could stimulate conversation about babies being God’s special gifts to our families, and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him.

Parents and grandparents will enjoy reading Guess Who’s Coming? to their children. When my daughter was expecting her second baby, she read many books to her then two-year-old, helping my granddaughter to know what to expect. Reading these kinds of books is always a good way to prepare children for the new little one coming. This story is perfect for that; I enjoyed it tremendously. I know you and your children will as well.


Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons, one-daughter-in-law and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience, Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

“Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; . . .” Ephesians 6: 11, 14b-15.

So what could these spiritual shoes look like that help us stand? I think devotionals can be one kind. We’ve looked at two such books, and we recommend them highly for YAs and college age/working persons.

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women

Praying with Jane

We have also found the following books enriched our hearts and helped us walk with the Lord. May your heart also be enriched in the coming year.

Deeper: Living in the Reality of God’s Love

A Grief Observed

Lord, I Feel So Small

Mere Christianity

Mimosa: A True Story

Pray This Way

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

The time between Christmas and New Year’s is a wonderful time for the kids to unwind and savor the goodness of God. We have some suggestions of several books that might just help.

For YA:

Angels Walking series–four angels come alongside two couples and help them in their walks with God.

The Boys in the Boat— the true, inspiring story of the young men, who to everyone’s surprise, won Olympic gold in rowing at the 1936 Olympics.

First Date–a contemporary novel with small nods to the story of Esther from the Old Testament. Teenage American girls in a  beauty pageant compete for a first date with the President’s son.

Found in Translation–a humorous and heart-warming novel of a young woman’s adventures and misadventures on her first short-term mission trip.

God’s Smuggler–the true and thrilling story of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles into countries closed to Christianity.

A Horse to Love–For young teens, a page-turner about a troubled teen who learns to trust God while living at a special needs dude ranch. This book is the first book in a series.

The Lost Castle–a novel that weaves together the stories of three different women from three different time periods. Each woman must grapple with how to have integrity and compassion despite difficult circumstances.

9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge–science fiction short stories with interesting twists.

Oxygen–science fiction, a space crew traveling to Mars suspect that one of them is a saboteur.

Peculiar Treasures–first book in the series of four about a young college woman who grows in her faith in God and His purposes.

7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness–Seven men who allowed God to use them to do great things. Among the men profiled are Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jackie Robinson.

Soul Surfer–true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton.

A Whisper and a Wish–Robin Jones Gunn’s second book in the Christy Miller series. Christy is fifteen, a Christian and the new girl in school.


For middle schoolers:

Anne of Green Gables–classic for girls, with a number of books in the series.

Callie–a book for emerging independent readers about a finding a home for a cat.

Full Metal Trench Coat–first book in the series Bill the Warthog Mysteries. Short mysteries for elementary school children, especially boys.

I Get a Clue–a contemporary mystery/adventure. This is the first book in the two-book series about pre-teen detectives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe–the thrilling first book of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.

Nick Newton Is Not a Genius–fun, wacky characters in a steampunk setting. An average kid with a lot of grit finds adventure when he tries to put together a clockwork bird.

The Pilgrim’s Progress–Christian classic, an allegory on the Christian life. This review looks at several versions.

The Prince Warriors–a Christian allegory for boys and girls based on using the armor of God.

Sarah, Plain and Tall–historical fiction about life on the American prairie of the 19th century.

Scout–a boy’s adventures with a lost dog.

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed–historical fiction, a sea adventure for boys and girls set aboard a 19th century whaling ship.


Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.


Hero at Home, a picture book, written by Sarah Verardo, published by iUniverse (2018), and with a forward by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, helps children and readers of all ages to view with greater understanding the struggles and wounds of our military veterans. The author is a devoted wife and mother. She is also a caregiver to her husband, Mike, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan.

The story starts with an introduction to Grace’s Dad, an injured veteran with a prosthetic leg. We are told that he wanted to serve in the U.S. Army as an infantryman to protect the freedom of all Americans. The story continues, telling us that he went to Afghanistan, and was wounded in action while protecting our country. Not only was his leg injured, but his arm has been rebuilt, using lots of tools. Grace and her family help him every day.

The book shares what some of their days are like. Grace’s Dad is still trying to get better. He goes to the doctor. He misses his friends who didn’t make it home. He also has a brain injury that can mix up his thinking a little at times. Sometimes he uses a wheelchair. Grace and her two little sisters like to ride with Dad.

One of the highlights of Hero at Home is when Grace’s Dad, who is not named in this book, tells Grace that even though sometimes a person’s body changes, they still have the same heart. Grace’s Dad has friends that have new arms and legs, but they are still America’s heroes.

This little book does not mention God, but there are some important Christian values to note. Caring for and understanding the hardships of those in our own family is a wonderful trait of those who are Christ-followers. Family helpfulness and unity is another. Caring for others in the community is the duty of all Christians.

I enjoyed this little picture book. It gave me an insight into the struggles of one family, and also, it helped me to see that prayer and concern for all wounded veterans is important. I know you and your family will enjoy this story as well.  It is particularly geared for children, ages four to ten.


Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons, one-daughter-in-law and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience, Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”


According to my research, the Italian, “venire alla luce” translates as “to be born.” Literally, the words are “to come to the light.” It has struck me this week as I’ve been thinking about Advent and Christmas how beautiful and meaningful that phrase is.

Tonight is the first night of Advent and at our house we will light the first candle. I will marvel again that Jesus came to live on earth. He is the light of the world. In Him we, humans, saw and see the light of God’s love. And then more marvelous still, He carried us into it’s brightness through His sacrifice.

Advent can be a crazy time for all of us, young and old and in-betweens. Especially in-betweens. We can forget what’s important. We can think we have to make Christmas happen. We forget that the light has come.

I suggest some down time to re-focus; read with the kids. And give yourself permission to not make a big event of it. (Hot chocolate is very optional and only if you really, really want to do it.) Just pick a book with a Christmas theme, settle on the couch and enjoy the story together. (If you don’t have kids, read to the kid in you.)

Those of us at Books 4 Christian Kids have a few suggestions for some terrific books.

God Gave Us Christmas

It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids!

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Lucille Nadine Alexander’s Birthday

A Night of Great Joy

Read and Play Christmas

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story

Sparkle Box

For your young teen:

Jotham’s Journey

I get it that your older teen or college/person may not want to read aloud with you, but they still may need “a warm fuzzy” and some quiet moments away from all the excitement of the season. May we suggest for the young women in your world:

A Christmas Gift for Rose 

Engaging Father Christmas

Finding Father Christmas

21 Days of Christmas

Tell me how it goes. (I understand completely if you want to wait until January to do this.) And if you do decide to make hot chocolate, I want the recipe. 🙂


Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.


Hanukkah begins next Sunday, December 2, 2018, at sundown and runs to Monday, December 10, 2017, at sundown. The name comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to dedicate.”  The book of John (John 10:22) tells us that Jesus was in Jerusalem during this Jewish winter festival which John calls the Feast of Dedication. I think it is interesting to consider. Why does John give us this detail?

Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah is an exciting, colorful book for kids that will teach them about the beginnings of this Jewish holiday. My review of the book along with a little more background about this historical event can be found by clicking the book title.

I also want to point you to Walk with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year by Janie-sue Wertheim and Kathy Shapiro. The book has several pages on Hanukkah and gives info on the traditions. For example, potato latkes, one of the holiday treats (and yum, they are a treat!), are traditionally fried in oil. This is to remind the person who eats them of the miracle that God performed with the oil and the dedication of the Temple.

There are a number of recipes online for potato latkes. I think you and the kids would have fun making and, of course, eating this delicious treat. A few years back I found a recipe for latkes in a magazine and tried it. The latkes were superb! That recipe called for a little lemon zest, a little orange zest and a bit of thyme. I used olive oil. Other recipes that I’ve seen use other kinds of oil. I think you can adapt a recipe to your own family’s tastes. But do try making them. Your mouth will be glad you did. And don’t forget the sour cream (or plain yogurt) and applesauce. OK, enough! I’m getting hungry.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

Praying with Jane is a lovely, small, hardbound book. Rachel Dodge has taken three beautiful prayers composed by the famous novelist Jane Austen and transformed them into a thirty-one day devotional. It is insightful, uplifting, and engaging.

The author’s introduction reveals fascinating details of Jane Austen’s spiritual and family life which may be unknown to many readers. Then, after presenting each prayer in full, she breaks them into small passages for reflection.

Each devotional gives insights into Jane’s faith, pulls illustrations from her novels, quotes related scripture passages, and suggests personalized prayers on the same theme. We glimpse the gracious life of hope and joy lived by a woman whose strength came from daily conversations with God.

For those who love all-things-Austen, this book will be a valued addition to their collection. Published by Bethany House Publishers (2018), Praying with Jane is about 160 pages long, and can be appreciated by readers from middle school through college, and beyond. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and probably in your local book store.


From Nancy–If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about Christmas gifts. This book sounds like it would make a terrific one–a gift a beloved would savor throughout the long winter months ahead. And don’t forget, that someone could be you. 🙂

Last year at this time Pamela Walls recommended Suddenly Single Mom by Jeanette Hanscome, and I want to point you to that review and the book again. Single moms can have a really tough time of it during the holidays. Maybe you and this book can befriend one of them, giving them the gift of an understanding heart.


Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.

Book Reviews

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