CrossReaders Book Review: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado

Title: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe

Author: Max Lucado

Rating: 4.5

About the Book

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle. Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

Review

Max Lucado’s new fiction release, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe, is unusual and quite unique. I greatly enjoyed it while reading, but like it even more as I reflect back. Rather than critiquing from a literary standpoint, my reviews are usually based on how a book affects me, and this one hits a home run.

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe is a beautiful example of the power of story. Max is a wordsmith. He has an exceptional, God-given ability to communicate spiritual truths by painting pictures through the written word. This is not a long read, but it doesn’t need to be, for Max shares volumes in only 184 pages. It may seem like a predictable, lighthearted fantasy on the surface, but there are untold hidden depths.

It is an imaginative concept to spin this story around modern social concepts like a San Antonio coffee shop, wifi, lattes, baked goodies, and an interactive blog. I loved all the characters and how readers will be able to identify with their struggles. The use of angels in fiction often comes across as somewhat cheesy, but Max did a great job in making Manny humorous, quirky, and sincere. There are some great scenes where Manny views events from heaven’s perspective.

This is a story about relationships – with spouse, family members, friends, community, and with God. Spiritual warfare and the power of prayer are major themes. Issues of adultery and divorce are woven into this story, but never as a main theme nor in a condemning, “preachy” manner. That’s not Max’s style and he has a gift for keeping the focus where it needs to be – on God’s love, repentance, and forgiveness.

This book is filled with spiritual themes that will speak to readers – the personal cost of unforgiveness, the effectiveness of prayer, that everything in our lives has a purpose, and that no matter how devastating the circumstance, we are never alone. One scene that especially touched me is when Manny wanders into what had once been a prayer room in the coffee shop, and he listens . . . “Decades of prayers resounded through the small room. Prayers that pass through the lips in a moment, but endure for all eternity.”

Spiritual warfare is very real, yet it’s not something to which I give a lot of thought, so I found this theme fascinating and extremely moving. I’d like to end with this touching and victorious scene that gives cause for rejoicing, a visual that contrasts the forces of light and dark . . .

Through the window, Manny noticed dark shadows lurking . . . Voices emerged from within: throaty and gutteral, filling the atmosphere with lies of shame, abandonment, and despair.
“God has no place for you . . .”
“God? What God?”
Gabriel began to sing. “Holy is the Living God.”
At the sound of the angelic voice, the murky cloud stopped its advance.
“Blessed be the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
The shadows inched back at each chorus.
One by one the angels joined Gabriel, lifting their voices to heaven. It soon sounded as though hundreds, perhaps thousands were singing. . . . In the presence of such mighty voices, the evil held no sway. There was no shadow for such lies to hide.

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe is a story that could possibly impact new believers, seekers, and seasoned Christians alike. I hope we see more fiction from Mr. Max. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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This review was submitted by: Carole Jarvis – please visit their website at The Power of Words

CrossReaders Book Review: Devon’s Choice by Catherine Bennett

Title: Devon’s Choice

Author: Catherine Bennett

Rating: 5 stars

About the Book

Life holds no surprises for Devon Murphy. Her life consists of keeping tabs on her aging Irish father, working part time at a coffee shop, and building her online graphics design business. Devon’s only tricky situation is a shallow relationship with the pampered and affluent Michael Turner, who sees her as just another woman to conquer.

Following his father’s death, Brandon’s only goal is to expand the family business and live life on his own terms. That is, until he walks into the coffee shop one snowy evening and meets the enchanting, red-haired barista behind the counter. But can Devon and Brandon’s attraction for each other be strong enough to help erase their deepest disappointments and renew their faith in God?

Review

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
This is a very emotional story of friendship, relationships and loss. Devon Murphy is a woman with strong morals. She loves and cares for her aging widowed father, works a part time job at a coffee shop with her friend Megan, and is putting her graphics art degree to work building a business. She is dating Michael Turner, who is egotistical, self-centered and treats her like a business deal. Brandon Forrester seems to have the same strong characteristics as Devon, family devotion, business ethics, healthier lifestyle and respecting other people. Devon knows that Michael is wrong for her and when she meets Brandon, they seem to have a connection. This story is about taking a hard look at your life and goals and making plans and changes. About dealing with the loss of a parent and knowing how to move on and putting your faith and trust in God and allowing Him to lead in your life.

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This review was submitted by: Kathy Heare Watts

Me and my wild Einstein poodle hair! by Patricia PacJac Carroll

Me and my wild Einstein poodle hair! by Patricia PacJac Carroll

Here I am with my silly hair. I never had curly hair before. And White!

Some people tell me they love the color. I think it’s great if I were George Washington.

Told my husband I needed to color my hair so that I didn’t look like his mother.
He said, “At least you have hair.”

I replied. “That’s so I don’t look like your father.”

: )

I am feeling good. My strength  has returned and I am doing great.

I’m on book 6. Yes, I’ve published three already this year. Have another one to edit and publish and the first chapter of book 6 is done.

Live your life big and bold, knowing eternal life is yours for the asking. Jesus holds the key. Ask him and he’ll come into your life and you’ll never be the same.

About the Author:
Patricia PacJac Carroll
Patricia PacJac Carroll~ I am a writer, Christian first, and blessed beyond my imagination. I live in the Dallas-Ft Worth area of Texas with my wonderful treasure of a husband, my spoiled dog, Jacs, and my awesome grown son, Josh. Did I say I was blessed? The PacJac is from my initials and my husbands. I wouldn’t be able to write if it weren’t for him.I love adventure and the open road. The stories of the western era have always been a favorite of mine. I enjoy writing, and my goal is to write stories readers will enjoy.

Hope you are enjoying the series ~ Mail Order Brides of Hickory Stick. I’ll have a new series this year set in Montana – Solomon’s Valley ~ First book is The Feud.

My blogs http://patriciapacjaccarroll.blogspot.com/
Also on FB http://www.facebook.com/PatriciaPacJacCarrollAuthor
Twitter https://twitter.com/@PacJac
Email pacjaccarroll@aol.com

CrossReaders Book Review: Severed Hearts by Laurean Brooks

Title: Severed Hearts

Author: Laurean Brooks

Rating: 5 Stars

About the Book

Julie Blanton’s dream is realized when shy Johnny Michaels all but professes his undying love.

But, when he enlists two days later without so much as a goodbye, her world crashes.

Johnny has loved Julie since high school Civics class. But before he can muster the courage to ask for a real date, he overhears words that cut to the core. Humiliation drives him to make a rash decision. Will it cost him Julie’s love?

Review

PUT GOD FIRST AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF OTHER THINGS
What an inspirational story of faith, trust, priorities and true love. The year, 1970, small town America, where Vietnam is a hot topic, the draft is still in effect, family, friends and making an honest living are important. Johnny Michaels comes from a poor family, but they are good, honest hard-working people. Julie Blanton comes from a family that has nicer things and are doing well. Johnny and Julie had one class together in high school, Civics class, but Johnny was a shy young man. When Julie invites Johnny to a church picnic this is the catalyst for their new relationship into dating and falling in love. The reoccurring theme and reminder in this story is, “Who do you put first in your life?” Put God first, family second, friends third and your job last. When we set the correct priorities and God is number one in our life, everything else will fall into place. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and ratings are my own.

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This review was submitted by: Kathy Heare Watts

Spotlight Title:  Smokey Mountain Prayer

Spotlight Title: Smokey Mountain Prayer

About the Book

This 1940s epic story takes place in the Smokey Mountains during World War II. Most of the towns in the south were predominately Southern Baptist and cut off from other Christian denominations. A Catholic convert, single female, with a career in veterinary medicine, would have posed a challenge to the belief system at that time.
This is the story of Margaret Kelly MacDougal’s struggle to honor her father’s legacy as a veterinarian and practice her Catholic faith. Although our stories may be different, our desire is the same – to be loved, to be accepted; that is the story of the human race.

Review

Smokey Mountain Prayer is the latest romance from award-winning author Angela Pisaturo.

The story begins in Chicago with a farewell dinner for Dr. Margaret Kelly MacDougal who is returning home to Horseshoe Cove, Tennessee. Having recently graduated from veterinary school, Maggie yearns to continue the successful veterinary practice of her deceased father, Dr. James MacDougal. However, she is received with strong resentment from the local farmers and Josh, her high-school sweetheart. The farmers of this secluded, Baptist-dominated country town are very traditional regarding family roles and are outraged about Maggie’s career choice. She finds herself in a bigger predicament once her conversion to Catholicism comes to light.

Maggie struggles to keep her animal clinic afloat amid financial hardship and the turmoil of World War II. During these difficult times she relies on the comfort and advice of her small circle of old-lady friends. Her faith keeps her strong as she attempts to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of veterinarians. As the story unfolds, a series of unfortunate events shows the residents of Horseshoe Cove that fanaticism, prejudice, and narrow-minded views disguised as traditions and values could affect a society and prevent its progress.

When contacted by the author to write a summary and review of the book, I was honored. For me, the summary was harder because I was restricted to 100—200 words. In writing it, I limited myself to highlighting only the important scenes in order to encourage the reader to buy this page-turner of a novel. I hope I achieved that goal. I accepted the double challenge because I like Ms. Pisaturo’s writing style. I knew what to expect, having enjoyed and reviewed her book, Treasures in Clay Vessels.

Her romance novels are clean, well-researched, uplifting and entertaining while keeping the reader engaged throughout. In both novels, she tastefully relates the differences in religious views of her characters without bashing any. I recommend Smokey Mountain Prayers to readers who are fond of romance novels with a twist.

Reviewed by Tannia E. Ortiz-Lopés, publisher of Time with Tannia
(timewithtannia.tripod.com) Tannia E. Ortiz-Lopés, author of The Window To My Soul; My Walk With Jesus (2004 Tate Publishing;). El Espejo de mi Alma (2011 WinePress) ., www.shoutlife.com/tanniaortizlopes,and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tannia-E-Ortiz-Lopés-authorSongwriterPhotographer/
156091121125193  Stock photography website:

http://www.bigstockphoto.com/search/photographer/Boricua63/

Other photography website: http://www.zazzle.com/teolpuertorico
Copyrighted, December, 2014 – Tannia E. Ortiz-Lopés – All Rights Reserved

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