Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Last Ride

I received a copy of THE LAST RIDE by Susan K. Marlow from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  It is the third book in the Circle C Milestones series.  This book shows Andrea Carter turning sixteen and greatly in love with Rach life.  Uh oh – stuffy Aunt Rebecca is visiting with Cousin Daniel!  I did read the first two books in the series, and I felt that this was a smooth continuation.  I never read the first series for very young readers, but I know that this one is perfect for teens. It has a strong Christian background that I know many parents will love.  Andrea Carter is an excellent role model.  I have always loved the “Wild West.”  I would have adored these books when I was in junior high and high school.  Andrea has a strong family that helps to guide her into becoming a strong woman.

The only thing that bothered me about this book was Andrea and Daniel.  I often felt that she turned the other cheek too much with his behaviors.  It seemed a bit unrealistic and I thought that it would have helped the story if she hadn’t done that.  She could have still been a positive role model even if she had acted a bit differently in those regards.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Playing the Part

I received a copy of PLAYING THE PART by Jen Turano from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  It is book three in the Class of Their Own series.

If you follow my reviews, you know I have a sweet spot in my heart for Bethany House books.  I also adore feel-good historical fiction.  There is nothing like settling into the past to meet some new friends, and the Christian elements only help to make it more meaningful.  

Sadly, this on didn’t do it for me like most Bethany House novels.  I have not read the other books in the series, so that might be why.  Please take my review with a grain of salt.

The good: The story is definitely a light read.  There is a bit of danger, but never anything too dire.  Overall it is just a fun  tale that is appropriate for all ages. 

The bad: The story takes place in New York City, and I love it there.  Granted, I visit the modern New York City, not the one of 1882, but I had trouble picturing the scenes.  I also felt like there was too much Telling.  Maybe this bothered me because I’m an author and many editors have drilled into my head to Show not Tell.  Telling parts jump out at me now in stories, and this one seemed to have a lot of instances. The story felt flat and I never managed to connect with any of the characters.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jazz Files

I received a copy of THE JAZZ FILES by Fiona Veitch Smith from Lion Fiction via Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  It is the first book in the Poppy Denby Investigations series.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  The mystery was interesting.  I found myself guessing at people’s true motives and how it would all turn out.  I take that to be the sign of a good mystery.  I was fully engaged. 

I also enjoyed the main character’s interactions with her aunt.  The story focuses on Poppy Denby who goes to stay with her disabled aunt, but ends up working at a newspaper solving the death of a reporter. 

On a bit of an aside, I found the homosexuality tones interesting for Christian fiction.  I know many of my friends would enjoy reading it. 

I didn’t love the whole story though.  It seemed a little unbelievable that on her first day, Poppy would get a story.  She wasn’t even a reporter.  Plus, she had no training but was able to interview excellently.  Poppy started out as what I will call a proper young woman, and then she becomes much…freer, looser.  (I did, however, enjoy reading about her new attitude.  It was fun to see her transformation)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Letters to my Daughters

I received a copy of LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTERS: THE ART OF BEING A WIFE by Barbara Rainey from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  What a beautiful book this is!  It is a hardcover, with gentle pictures throughout, and a ribbon bookmark.  I can see this as a perfect gift to give at a wedding shower.  I say shower and not at the actual wedding, because this should be something that is read beforehand and digested. 

Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book.  Religion is tenderly woven into real-life scenarios and gentle advice.  The book stresses that marriage is not easy and it important to work at it rather than just giving up. 

My only criticism, if it even is a criticism, is that it is directed at brides.  I would like to see this read by husbands too.  A book combining the two points of view would be great to help a marriage flower from the very start.  I would hate to see a bride try so hard if her husband wasn’t giving it his all. 

Overall, I do recommend this to people on their way to the altar, especially if they do not otherwise have a female role model to look up to.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Praying for the World

I received a copy of AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO PRAYING FOR THE WORLD by Brain C. Stiller from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This is a very complex book, and totally addicting.  I planned to sit down and just read one section, but I ended up reading quite a few.  I set it down on the table and a friend came over, saw it, and asked if she could read it overnight.  Long story short, she kept it for way too long, and I was thrilled to get it back!

PRAYING FOR THE WORLD discusses different countries, such as Cambodia, the country’s history, some background from the author, and topics for prayer.  I have heard about these countries, but nothing in depth, so this book really opened my eyes.  I am a teacher, and in the past I have taught at inner-city elementary schools and a community college.  Many of the students in my classes were from these countries.  Their personal stories reflected what the author had written.

I found the prayer topics helpful for discussions with my family.  I highly recommend this for prayer groups, Sunday schools, and family gatherings.  There is much to think about within these pages, and even more to discuss with others.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Saints and Sailors

I received a copy of SAINTS AND SAILORS by Pam Rhodes from Lion Fiction via Kregel in exchange for an honest review. It is the fourth book in the Dunbridge Chronicles. It had been a while since I read the others, so I can safely say you can jump right into this fourth installment and enjoy it tremendously. I loved the fact the story takes place on a Christian cruise that is going around the British Isles. I had never read a book about a cruise before and I have never been on a cruise, so this was a delightfully new experience. 

For those who are familiar with the series, you will encounter some familiar faces, and some real people. As I said earlier, I have never been on a cruise, and I’ve never been to the places the cruise visits, so I delighted in that part too. I enjoy visiting new lands through books.

This is a feel good book that is the perfect escape for smoothing out a long day. Although it does exhibit a strong Christian theme, it is not too preachy, and I feel that anyone of any faith who are looking for a tender story would enjoy this.