Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Out of the Ordinary

I received a copy of OUT OF THE ORDINARY by Jen Turano from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This is part of the “Apart from the Crowd” series.  I hadn’t read the first book and didn’t feel that I needed to in order to enjoy this one.

This is another top-notch historical romance from Bethany House.  I always know that I can expect a Christian message, a sweet romance, and strong characters.  I wasn’t disappointed.  My favorite part about this book is the humor.  There were many times I actually laughed out loud and people around me asked what was so funny.


My only complaint is really that this book didn’t feel unique.  It was just another historical romance with a Christian theme.  It was good, and if you like this type of book, than I can easily recommend it.  It just didn’t have anything that made it stand out from the rest, if that makes sense.  I guess I thought about that because of the title.  It did feel a bit ordinary.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Vanishing Point

I received a copy of VANISHING POINT by Lisa Harper from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  This is part of the Nikki Boyd series.

I found this book to be incredibly interesting.  Usually books about cases are quick.  The mystery is solved within a few hours and a couple falls in love.  Instead, this book takes place over years.  You get to realize the ins and outs of law enforcement cases.  This would be an excellent book for someone thinking about going into law enforcement to read.


Other than that, this is a fast-paced and heart-pumping adventure.  It is truly gripping and you will want to read it in one sitting.  

Saturday, November 18, 2017

ANGELINE 43 by Kathy Bosman

A lot of times I call a book fun.  This book, well, it isn’t so much fun and emotional.  It pulls you in and leaves you breathless.

I don’t read many angel books, but of those I have read, ANGELINE 43 is definitely different.  This is fresh.  Unique.  I loved Essa, from her attitude to her passion.  She is a strong character to root for. 

I also loved the descriptions.  Kathy Bosman takes something insignificant, like a hoodie, and makes it beautiful by calling it “duty-blue.”

The ending will leave you smiling.  You will sigh as you put the story down.


I 100% enjoyed it and recommend it for fans of young adult fantasy.

Friday, November 17, 2017

DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND by Heather Eagar

I am a huge history buff and I used to be obsessed with the Salem Witch Trials when I was in high school.  This book brought back my love of that time in history…and when I say love, it is more of a morbid fascination.  DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND takes a fresh new look at the witch trials.  I liked that it didn’t lesson the trauma of the historical time period, while still delivering something new and emotional.  I loved Elizabeth.  She was so relatable and strong. 


This is a fun, historical novel with a supernatural twist.  It is perfect for teens who love paranormal books, but aren’t too familiar with history.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lady Jayne Disappears

I received a copy of LADY JAYNE DISAPPEARS by Joanna Davidson Politano from Revell in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was, well, it was incredible.  I am so in love with it.  The description sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to read it.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I zipped through this story in no time!  I have always been passionate about Gothic romances, so I might be a bit biased, haha. 


You will quickly be sucked into the writing.  Don’t expect to read a chapter and then set the book aside.  Give yourself a good few hours because you will need it.  I love books about family secrets and creepy houses, and historical fiction just adds sugar on top.  As you can see, I really loved this book.  I can’t stop gushing about it!  Check it out and prepare not to be disappointed.

Monday, November 13, 2017

CARRIED HOME by Heather Manning

Oh. My. Gosh.  This brought me back to Pirates of the Caribbean, one of my favorite movies.  I’m also a fan of sea stories and romance in general, so I just ate this book up. 

The best part of this book to me (other than the characters, who are all engaging) was the imagery.  I could picture everything like a movie.  It sweeps you up into the scene.

Other than the romance, there is plenty of danger and action to keep the story moving.


This is the second book in the series, but I was able to read it and thoroughly enjoy it without having read book 1 first.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

LUCID by L. E. Fred

This is a young adult fantasy book that is fresh.  I read a lot of fantasy, and after a while, certain fantasy books blend together.  They feel as if they were all the same story, but with different character names.  LUCID feels totally new. 

Other than the world and adventure, you’ll be rooting for Devon.  He definitely comes of age.  You’ll watch him grow mentally and physically.  I found it cool that the story is told from a boy’s point of view.  Most of the fantasy books I’ve read that are geared toward young adults involve a girl.


Be warned: the book doesn’t really end.  It will leave you wanting the sequel.

Friday, November 10, 2017

DAY MOON by Brett Armstrong

This is the first installment of the series “Tomorrow’s Edge.” 

I don’t normally read sci-fi, although I do enjoy the genre.  This sci-fi dystopian young adult novel blew me away.  It kept me entranced.  (Sometimes sci-fi goes over my head)  This book will appeal to anyone who is looking for an intelligent read about a strong character who is family oriented.  I loved that the book was left to him by his grandfather.  It reminded me of the treasures my grandmother passed down…although nothing like that book.


Something else that stood out to me was how this isn’t your typical dystopian novel.  It hasn’t been done before, so it was refreshing and unique.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Great Siege by J. N. Tomczak

This book is just as good as the first!  Sometimes the sequel fizzles out, but it isn’t the case here.   My favorite part is the world building.  It feels like a movie.  You can see everything…and feel….and taste even.  It all comes to life.  After reading this, I really sat back thinking about the series.  The world building is definitely what makes it stand out.  (Of course, I also enjoyed more adventures of Aurora!) 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

JUNCTION 2020: Book 2: Nightmare Realization by Carol Riggs

This is the type of series that doesn’t just follow one character.  This book is about a different one.  You’ll get to know Tony.  You’ll feel what he feels.  You’ll see what he sees.  I found much of it, like with the gangs, chilling.  It really sucked me in more than book 1.  I really felt that I could connect with Tony more, and that made this book more enjoyable than the first.


Check out this series if you love books where you get to experience a whole new world.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Crazy, Holy Grace

I received a copy of A CRAZY, HOLY GRACE: THE HEALING POWER OF PAIN AND MEMORY by Frederick Buechner from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review. 


Like with another book of his I read, the prose sucks you in.  It makes his writing easy to read and enjoyable.  The book is small and reminded me of the texts I had to read back in high school and college, boring texts that I had to force myself to endure.  Maybe that’s why I went into this with a bit of trepidation.  I was excited to find it so enjoyable!  Yes, the topic is serious and sad, but by enjoyable I mean that I enjoyed reading the words.  I am still struggling with the loss of my maternal grandmother and this book helped me in a way other things haven’t.  There’s a lot of negativity going on in my life right now and the book gave me hope. 

The Remarkable Ordinary

I received a copy of THE REMARKABLE ORDINARY: HOW TO STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN TO LIFE by Frederick Buechner from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review. 

The best thing about this book would have to be its prose.  This book isn’t dry at all.  Frederick Buechner writes with mirth and honesty.  I looked forward to sitting down each night for another chapter.  It felt like visiting a new friend.


This book is basically a series of lectures.  They are perfect for reading one a night.  They don’t really correlate, but after finishing the book, I can see the overall reach.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Forest

The Forest is a middle-grade/young adult fantasy about a bullied high school boy who encounters a life-changing mystery inside of a magical forest. In the sequel to her middle-grade fantasy The Gold, Krista Wagner fast-forwards seven years to show us what has become of Shane Smith, the fifth-grade bully from The Gold. Tired of his dad's abuse and his teacher's mistreatment, Shane takes a walk inside of a forest. Little does he know that the forest contains mysteries that will forever change things for him. Will he be ready to face the sudden shift in his world?

When abused Shane escapes to the forest, he encounters a miraculous mystery. 


Excerpt: 
“He didn't like not understanding things; it made him feel stupid, and it only confirmed his dad's verdict that he would never amount to anything worthwhile. Huffing out of frustration, he moved forward until the edge of his shoe touched the brink of the forest. He was going to show his dad that he was somebody.”

Reader Reviews: 
The Forest is well crafted, and passionately told story about Shane, and the many issues he faces growing up. The attention to detail weaves a rich tapestry that embraces the reader, taking us from the harsh reality of abusive adults to the mystical, alluring forest with ease. The issues Shane faces will be familiar to many youth, and I'm sure they will connect with this well written story. It will be well-received by young adults across the globe.--Susan Day

In this YA Fantasy novel, The Forest, Krista Wagner entertains, informs, and encourages her readers once again! This story, a sequel to her previous work, The Gold, follows seventeen year old Shane Smith into a tumultuous life of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father. Shane’s authentic anxiety and hopelessness is immediately transferred to the reader, as well as the peace, joy, healing, and renewal that he finds in the forest. Wagner’s fearless ability to tackle extremely heavy subjects with skillful and open dialogue is a hallmark of her writing. This is a beautifully written book that will fill the reader with a confident hope. Turn the page. “The Forest” awaits!!--Karen Wiser

The Backstory:
In my MG fantasy The Gold, ten-year old Amanda Greene is constantly teased by her classmate. Shane the bully. I thought it would be interesting to see what becomes of him and if he ever learns from the choices he makes.


About the Author: 
Krista Wagner is a 70's product best known for her spiritual suspense and fictional realism. In addition to being a recipient of the Reader's Favorite 5-star seal, she has been praised by award-winning screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy for her writing skill and strong plotting. Wagner holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is an English associate instructor with an indispensable faith in Christ.

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ALONE by SM Ford

Who wouldn’t want to be the live in housekeeper for an author?  To me, authors are like movie stars.


Okay, moving on, haha.  This is a clean murder mystery, and I liked that.  Sometimes murder novels are too gory, too gruesome.  I can’t sleep while I listen for someone to break into the house and murder us all.  This book flows much better than that, and it didn’t give me any nightmares.  Cecelia is a strong female character you will want to look up to and I loved the sweet romance.  This is a mystery with sturdy development, and one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Plain Leaving

I received a copy of A PLAIN LEAVING by Leslie Gould from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This is the first book in the series “Sisters of Lancaster County.”

I love Amish books and couldn’t wait to dive into this one as soon as it arrived in the mail.  I was doubly excited because it takes place in Lancaster County and I’ve been there often on vacation.   I’d read Leslie Gould before, too, so I knew I would be in for a treat.  She is an excellent storyteller.  I admit that I don’t always picture her settings, but her characters are so real.

This was an awesome Amish book.  My favorite part is that it also involves the story of a Revolutionary War ancestor.  I am a huge history buff when it comes to the Revolutionary War because I used to volunteer at Fort Stanwix.  I just swallow up anything historical.  I actually enjoyed Ruby’s story more than Jessica’s. 

My only complaint for the book is that, like with all books I’ve read by Leslie Gould so far, I had trouble picturing the setting and characters.


I recommend this to fans of Amish and historical fiction.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

CATSKIN by Artemis Grey

This is an awesome fairytale.  It isn’t a normal fairytale at all, but one that takes place in Alaska and is beautifully written.  I was cheering for both Cat and Ansel.  I loved reading about how they come together and grow.  I was so sad when the book ended just because it meant the story was over!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

THE DISHONORABLE MISS DELANCEY

I received a copy of THE DISHONORABLE MISS DELANCEY by Carolyn Miller from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  This is the third installment in the “Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace” series.

This series has caused me to fall in love with Carolyn Miller’s writing.  Her prose is poetic and touching.  You become immersed in the setting and you truly care about the characters. 

Of all the books, this one has become my favorite.  I felt a greater connection to Clara than to the previous heroines.  Her heart is broken, and she doesn’t want to be surrounded by fake friends. 

Other than my love and sympathy for Clara, and my adoration of romantic stories, I enjoyed the historical aspects of this.  We have come such a long way, especially in terms of women’s rights.


Definitely read this book, especially if you are already an established fan of the series.

Monday, October 23, 2017

HANGING WITH MY PEEPS by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

This book is adorable!  From the cover to the writing, it had me hooked.  It felt so real.  I read a lot of YA, but this book really stood out to me in how real Sami felt.  I could have been talking to a real-life teenager.  If you’re looking for a fun book, check this one out. 


There’s a kid on my holiday list I’ll be getting this for!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Sacred Slow

I received a copy of THE SACRED SLOW: A HOLY DEPARTURE FROM FAST FAITH by Alicia Britt Chole from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. 

At first this book appeared daunting.  It is very thick!  Most “self-help” books I read are thinner, and I can sit down for a read-through in just a few sittings.  I worried that I might lose interest with this.  That turned out not to be the case, as the chapters are broken up into easy-to-read sections.  I found Alicia Chole’s writing to be poetric and nurturing.  She reminded me of a patient Sunday School teacher.

What spoke to me the most is really the book’s main theme.  You don’t need to rush your relationship with God.  You don’t need to rush anything.  Faster doesn’t always equal better.


Take the time to read this book.  It will reward you.

Friday, October 20, 2017

THE KINGDOM OF THE FEARIES: EDENHART’S RIVALRY by J. N. Tomczak

There are some things I am partial to in a story: Faeries, dark magic, and a strong female lead.  EDENHART’S RIVALRY had all three, so I was instantly hooked.  Aurora’s growth is what stands out the most in this book.  She absolutely becomes the tough female protagonist you want to root for.


This brought me back to the epic fantasies I adored in high school.  If you’re look for a book to get lost in, check this one out.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HALFBREEDS by Elizabeth Russell

This book is creepy good.  The writing is lyrical, almost poetic.  It paints a Gothic image that draws you in and sticks with you.

I felt for the Halfbreeds.  Even if this isn’t exactly our society, we can each find something in one of the children to relate to.  (Also, as a mother, I kept imagining if my son had to go through this and shuddering.)


Really what sets this book out from the rest is the writing style.  It is just so smooth and lyrical.  I found I couldn’t stop reading it.  It feels like a fairy tale…a dark, creepy fairy tale that will keep you up at night thinking.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

JUNCTION: 2020 THE PORTAL by Carol Riggs

Okay, so this book is pure awesome.  I think one of my favorite things is that is starts off a few years in the future, rather than 50 or so, as most “future” books I’ve read do.  Anyway, I found this wholly unique.  Yes, Mari is transported to another land, but that doesn’t mean this is like any other book you’ve read.  The imagination is evident and you can tell Carol Riggs put a lot of effort into polishing this.  Although it is young adult, this can appeal to anyone of any age.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

ADORED

I received a copy of ADORED: 365 DEVOTIONS FOR YOUNG WOMEN by Lindsay A. Franklin from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

This book is beautiful and reminded me of the cover of a classic.  I could picture a young woman in the Victorian era sitting beneath the shade of a tree enjoying the messages disclosed.  Of course, this book faces modern topics, not just things girls faced back then. 

Each page is a different message.  These are thought-provoking passages  that don’t just provide black-and-white rules, but are intended to make girls really think.  I like the passage in particular about leggings, and whether it is appropriate to wear them.  The passage stresses that we shouldn’t reduce ourselves to only having worth in sexual attractiveness.  I took that to mean not to wear them if that’s the only reason you’re wearing them.  Wear them because they are comfortable – and make sure they look okay and are not so tight they are see-through!


This book isn’t just for young women.  At almost 30, I too could find meaning in the words.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THE COMING FUTURE by Turner and Torres

Okay, in one word: Exciting.  You can tell the authors took a lot of time to think out the plot and setting.  Although this is a fantasy world, the characters, especially Aalok, is relatable and real.  Really, that’s what stands out the most.  The authors poured their hearts and souls into making this book the best it could be.


I recommend this to teens and adults, and it is clean enough for middle grade readers.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

THE KAVANAGH HOUSE by Susan Dayley

This is the first book in the “Aeturnus Machine” series.

Okay, so you might not know this about me, but I am OBSESSED with steampunk!  I read a lot of steampunk novels, and I’ve noticed that sometimes they are getting stale.  It was great to read one as refreshing as this. 


Everything about this book was cool.  I loved the idea of the house.  Everything about this book is imaginative!  I read it in just two sittings.  It was addictive and I can’t wait for book 2.  Really, my favorite part about this novel (YA by the way), is the eerie feeling that follows you throughout the chapters.  Even though it isn’t technically a Halloween story, it is perfect for this season.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

SIX PACK by BW Morris

This is a fun young adult dystopian.  Unlike the normal dystopian, this one has the added bonus of showing how six young people become super heroes.  It would make a great comic book!

I haven’t often read about super heroes, other than in comics, so it was fun to check this out in a book format.  Can this be a TV show, please?


Note: Something that hadn’t crossed my mind until I looked over other reviews was that the evil guys should have super powers too.  That would be awesome for book two!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Back to Yesterday

BACK TO YESTERDAY by Ellie Elle.

This was a really interesting and unique book!  I love books where past meets present, and this definitely had that, as well as a clean romance and lots of suspense.  The main focus is the classic good versus evil, but this doesn’t feel like any old retelling.


What a lovely book!  I recommend it.  

Friday, October 6, 2017

THE MARKED by Emerald Barnes

This is a fun young adult novel about vampires, but it isn’t your average vampire love story you see so much of these days.  There is some romance, but I found that the focus was on the thrilling world.  Barnes has created something fresh and new in our own Smoky Mountains.  The plot is fast and the characters are relatable. 

I loved the academy idea.  Growing up, I always wanted to attend something like that, especially with the paranormal twist!


The story is clean, so you don’t have to feel guilty about giving it to a teenage or middle grade reader.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Stealing Liberty

STEALING LIBERTY by Jennifer Froelich

Are you looking for a wild teen adventure that’s clean?  Are you hoping for an original young adult novel that isn’t just about a romance between vampires and werewolves?  (Not that vampires and werewolves are bad, but sometimes you need a break from the norm)

Grab a copy of STEALING LIBERTY and be prepared to not put it down until you’re done reading!  What stood out to me the most was how Harry Potter is forbidden.  I know so many people who talk about Harry Potter on a daily basis.  I was even looking into themes for my son’s birthday and saw one about Harry Potter.


The writing is solid.  Typos didn’t distract from the story, as I’ve seen in a few books I’ve read lately.  The story is told from varying viewpoints, which I LOVE.  This is an excellent dystopian novel appropriate for ages 12 and up.  I’m not sure younger kids would appreciate the dystopian setting.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

INDELIBLE by Kadee Carder

Okay, for one thing, I thought the title was INEDIBLE up until the final chapter.  Haha, my bad.

So anyway, I was supposed to read a few books first, but I could wait to find out what happened to Saylor, so I dove right in and finished this in two days.  I was happy that the action picks right up.  It always irritates me when a second or third book takes place years later and you feel as if you’ve missed a ton.  Saylor is still a strong role model perfect for teen girls.


5 stars!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Life-Changing Miracles

I received a copy of LIFE-CHANGING MIRACLES: REAL-LIFE STORIES OF UNFORGETTABLE ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD compiled by James Start Bell from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Books like this are beautiful.  They open your eyes and leave you in awe.  The book includes 40 true stories.  They are short, just a few pages each, so you can easily sit down when you have time to read one – or in my case, fly through them all.  I found something in each story to connect with.  At the end, you will be smiling, and left with a beautiful sense of hope.  That hope is much needed in today’s sad, dark world.


This makes an excellent holiday gift for that special someone in your life who needs to hear about miracles, or someone like me who enjoys reading true stories about miracles.

Monday, October 2, 2017

WHEN DID EVERYBODY ELSE GET SO OLD?

I received a copy of WHEN DID EVERYBODY ELSE GET SO OLD?: INDIGNITIES, COMPROMISES, AND THE UNEXPECTED GRACE OF MIDLIFE by Jennifer Grant from Herald Press in exchange for an honest review. 

I am a few years away from middle age, but I am an eclectic reader and enjoy religious novels.  I sat down with this book thinking to spend a half-hour on a few chapters…and I breezed right through it.  Jennifer Grant’s writing is catchy and heart-felt.  She isn’t afraid to show her fault and she revels in life’s joys.  That reveling is contagious!


I recommend this book and will be sharing it with my middle-aged friends and family members.  This would make a great gift for the upcoming holidays.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

IF WE MAKE IT HOME

I received a copy of IF WE MAKE IT HOME: A NOVEL OF FAITH AND SURVIVAL IN THE OREGON WILDERNESS by Christina Suzann Nelson from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautiful book showing internal strife and friendship.  The characters grow.  You get to feel their struggles. 


I liked how the chapters switched between characters.  It helped me to get to know each character a little more and I felt more immersed in the story.  I found it interesting that the women are in their 40s.  Granted, I usually read young adult novels, but it was cool to read about a different demographic.  Now that I have a son, I found myself relating more to them than to the teens in other books I’ve read lately.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

FAE LORD'S LADY

THE FAE LORD’S LADY by Lisa Kumar.

Ooh, this book is delightful!  I found Natalie highly relatable, and come on, who wouldn’t want to fall through a dimensional tear and end up with an elfin hottie?  Did I mention Lohr is a total hottie? 


Their chemistry is awesome and the setting sucks you in.  I loved that the romance is clean.  You won’t feel guilty reading this.  I loved all the mystery woven in with the romance.  Normally romances don’t have this much mystery, and I found THE FAE LORD’S LADY refreshing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Brave Beauty

I received a copy of BRAVE BEAUTY: FINDING THE FEARLESS YOU by Lynn Cowell from ZonderKidz in exchange for an honest review.  It is from Faithgirlz. 

This book is perfect for tween girls, as well as some teen girls.  I can see myself swallowing this up when I was around 11 or 12, and just coming to terms with life.  I was starting to understand there was more to life than friends and school.  This book dives into deeper messages and sparks conversations to be had with an adult, with friends, or with a religious mentor. 

BRAVE BEAUTY consists of many short chapters.  The length is perfect for a girl to read one a day.  They aren’t long or daunting, and are perfect for even reluctant or struggling readers.  (The only thing is that the book itself is long, so it might be off-putting for some girls until they realize they can easily get through the chapters.)


This makes a great gift, especially with the holidays coming up.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Oops-A-Daisy

Oops-A-Daisy by Melody Delgado is pure awesomeness.  It’s funny for one thing, but more than that, it focuses on great morals and family values.  Other middle grade novels I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot in my career as a teacher) don’t touch on strong Christian values the way this one does.  They usually go off into a world of sex and drugs (seriously, I’ve read those for preteens), but this one is clean while still talking about real issues.  I would feel comfortable giving this to a child to read.


I can see this book working well for reluctant readers.  Even readers who aren’t strong will be able to find moments to laugh at.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Liar's Winter

I received a copy of LIAR’S WINTER by Cindy K. Sproles from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  It is an Appalachian novel.

This is such an intense book!  I knew it was going to be action filled, but I didn’t expect so much action.  I was engrossed from the first page to the last, and then when that ending came – wow.  The journey of the main character  - Lochiel – is raw.  The story transports you to the past when superstition ruled the mountains, and it opens your eyes to God’s love.  There were some moments when I thought I would have to put the book down as I read what Lochiel had to live through, but then the ending made up for it.  You’ll have a smile on your face and a renowned trust in God.


This is a great read!  I highly recommend it if you are looking for historical Christian fiction with nonstop action.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Master's Mind

I received a copy of THE MASTER’S MIND: THE ART OF RESHAPING YOUR THOUGHTS by Lance Hahn from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read quite a few Biblical self-help book.  What really caught my attention with this one was the part about reshaping your thoughts.  Everyone can use a little of that, right?  It especially seemed appropriate now that I’ve lost my job and am in a career transition.

While I did find parts to help me in life, overall this struck me as more of a sermon than a regular self-help book.  The ones I’ve read in the past have been engaging.  The author relates his or her story in a way that inspires and captivates.  This book was certainly well-researched and it was filled with Biblical references; however, it didn’t really discuss the author’s personal experiences.  I found it slow going. 


It was a good book, and if you are trying to think with less negativity, then this is a great resource.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Incomplete

INCOMPLETE is the second installment of the “Insurrection” series.  I loved the first book for being an action-packed young adult novel that was clean.  It was the kind of book I would have been allowed to read back in middle and high school.  (Yes, my family was strict about what I could read and watch.)

INCOMPLETE continues the journey, and is still strong, action-packed, and – you guessed it – clean!  Saylor is an exceptional young woman.  She’s easy to look up to because of her faults and strengths.

I was excited to see more romance in this book.  Lately I’ve been reading romance novels, and I’ve been on a bit of a romantic kick.  (Note: The romance is clean, but that doesn’t mean it won’t leave you giggling and smiling.)


I was both happy and sad that this wasn’t the end.  I was sad because it was a cliffhanger.  I was happy because it meant I could get more of Saylor!  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Proving

I received a copy of THE PROVING by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This book doesn’t seem to follow any specific series, but it does include everything you’ve come to love about Beverly Lewis’s Amish fiction.

I enjoyed all of the references to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  My family and I vacation there a lot, so I could picture all the sites mentioned in the book.  (However, some of the references bothered me, like the cloister.  It was haphazardly mentioned as if it was only put in there to be a guidebook about things to do in the area.  The references didn’t all feel genuine.  Sometimes they jarred me.  It felt like I was reading a tourist pamphlet instead of a novel.)

I enjoyed that this wasn’t a traditional Amish story.  Usually they are about two people falling in love and that’s it.  While this did involve love, it wasn’t the focus.  The story instead focused on running a bed and breakfast, and mending a family. 

While I did enjoy reading the book, some parts were slow and I found myself zoning out when Trina was mentioned.  Once Trina reaches the inn, I was more invested.


This wasn’t my favorite novel by Beverly Lewis, but it is worth reading, especially if you are a fan of Amish fiction.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Fierce Tides

FIERCE TIDES is all you’ve come to expect from LM Preston – and more!  It has been a while since I read the other PURGATORY REIGN books, but I was able to jump back into the story without feeling like I had missed much.  The characters are strong and the setting is vivid.  I’ll have to check out the novella next.

Friday, September 15, 2017

ADVENTURES IN BARN TOWN

ADVENTURES IN BARN TOWN is an incredible work of middle grade literature.  I loved the personality and wit in the author’s voice.  It wasn’t dry, and it didn’t talk down to the reader as some young books do.

This is about talking animals, but don’t expect it to be “just another one of those” books.  This one has awesome antics.  I think what I loved best is that the farm reminded me of my grandmother’s farm where I spent many a summer. 


If I was still teaching elementary school, I would get a copy of this for my classroom.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

THE AWAKENING OF HK DERRYBERRY

I received a copy of THE AWAKENING OF HK DERRYBERRY: MY UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP WITH THE BOY WHO REMEMBERS EVERYTHING by Jim Bradford with Andy Hardin from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.  It is a true story that will leave you smiling and blinking back tears.

This is a fast read – I was able to finish it in a day – and it is wonderful.  The words will warm your heart, and you will want to keep reading more.  Basically, it is about a little boy who finds a man and changes his life, and vice versa.  This just goes to show you must never overlook anyone no matter what you might think about them.  It also goes to show that even if you don’t think you can make a difference to someone, think again.  Anyone can be a role model if they put someone else before them.


I can’t express enough how much I loved this book.  I recommend this, especially as a gift for this upcoming Christmas season.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND

I received a copy of ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND by Jane Kirkpatrick from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

This reminded me of all the books I adored back in middle school and high school.  It is about the Oregon frontier in the 1870s.  I am such a fan of historical fiction.  I swallowed this all up, and best of all, it is based on true stories!  Basically this book is about a single mother struggling to care for her son and coming to terms with emotion she feels for a widower.  As a new mother, I could connect with her struggles on many levels. 

The historical details place you right in the setting.  It was especially eye-opening in the descriptions of women’s roles back then on the frontier.  I was familiar with those roles from reading other books, but it always surprises me to see how far we’ve come.


I recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction, especially because it is based on real people.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ordering Your Private World

I received a copy of ORDERING YOUR PRIVATE WORLD by Gordon MacDonald from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.  The copy I received is revised and updated, and includes a study guide.

I don’t want to just recap the synopsis, so I’ll put it in a nutshell: This book talks about focuses on the inner you.  Your soul grows.  You grow.  By maintaining your inner peace, your outer peace falls into place.  Put your priorities into perspective.  Enhance your time management. 

I’ve read a lot of self-help books and articles, especially now while job hunting, and I’ve noticed that many of them come across as cold and tedious.  The author is just trying to make a quick buck without really caring about the reader.  That isn’t the case with this book.  The author’s words and experiences are touching.  You get the feeling he truly cares about helping you enhance your life. 


This is the type of book you don’t have to read all at once.  Sit down every now and then, put your feet up, and explore what Gordon MacDonald has to say.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insurrection

INSURRECTION by Kadee Carder is an excellent example of clean young adult fiction packed with action and danger.  The romance is delicately written.  Lately, the young adult books I’ve been reading have been all about sex and death, so this was refreshing.  It’s the kind of book you feel good about giving to a teen.


Saylor is a beautiful role model for girls.  She has the right amount of attitude paired with a caring heart.  I don’t want to give any spoilers away, so I’m just going to say…wait until you get to the end!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

SHINE

I received a copy of SHINE: STEPPING INTO THE ROLE YOU WERE MADE FOR by Allison Allen from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

This is a self-help book, but its more than that.  It feels like a conversation between you and the author.  Those are my favorite kinds of books.  They suck you in and it is a pleasure to read.  You actually forget that you’re reading “lessons.”  Allison Allen offers plenty of insight and personal stories about her growth.  She doesn’t just lecture, but connects it with her own experiences. 


The book is about rising up over hardships.  It is about not letting fear keep you down, not letting rejections beat you into a pulp.  On my current process to finding a new job, I needed that part the most.  The book really isn’t about one thing in general, so everyone should be able to find something in here to help improve his or her life.

Friday, September 1, 2017

IRMA THE INVENTOR & THE VAMPIRE SPIDERS

When I was teaching elementary school, I looked for books that would get girls interested in science.  There wasn’t a lot out there.  I wish I’d known about IRMA THE INVENTOR & THE VAMPIRE SPIDERS. 


The story is clean – always a plus when buying for kids – and it shows a great empowerment for girls.  Did I mention it encourages a love for science?!  There were many times I laughed and many more times that I cheered.  Irma is quirky, and she reminded me a lot of myself when I was in grade school.  I wanted friends, and I tried hard, but no matter, something always went a little wrong…

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to Listen so People will Talk

I received a copy of HOW TO LISTEN SO PEOPLE WILL TALK: BUILD STRONGER COMMUNICATION AND DEEPER CONNECTIONS by Becky Harling from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This is a bit of a self-help book.  I was excited to be offered the chance to review this because I need help with listening, and listening is important to my job – I’m a trainer.

I do enjoy listening to people, but before reading this, I tended to interject with my own stories.  I also tend to give unsolicited advice.  I don’t think I do it because I believe I know best.  I like to learn and I like to share what I learn.  After reading this, I’m going to take away many of her tips, and I will be ruminating about what she was talking about in other areas.

This is written by a Christian author, but it is not tailored just for Christians.  I believe anyone could find relevant information and help within these pages.  She does, however, reference the Bible quite frequently.  The book is uplifting, insightful, and designed to encourage you to be your best, not to put you down.


I read a lot of Christian self-help books, and this was the first one about listening.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Soldier Who Killed a King

I received a copy of THE SOLDIER WHO KILLED A KING:  ATRUE RETELLING OF THE PASSION by David Kitz from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.   This is a standalone book.

This book…wow.  Subject matter aside, it blew me away.  The writing is superb.  It feel as if you are watching a movie, but a 4D movie.  (This would make a great Broadway play)  It puts you in the scene.  You taste and feel and smell.  You are transported back in time.  You get to really know the characters as if they were people living on your block.  You travel back in time to the first-century world and experience it all.

Now for the subject matter.  According to the blurb: A stunning story of Holy Week through the eyes of a Roman centurion.  The centurion is Marcus Longinus.


This story shows the events leading up to the Passion Week.  This is a new take on a story that has been told many times.  I admit to thinking it might “just be another one.”  If you hesitate because of that, you’re missing out.  This is historical Christian fiction at its finest.  I highly recommend it for your collection.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Tale of Bryant Adams

The Tale of Bryant Adams:
How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days

A new young adult urban fantasy novel from Megan O’Russell


Ever wanted to grow a five-story tall flower in central park? How about fight a deadly battle under the subway tunnels of Manhattan?

Don't worry. I never wanted to either. But if you're ever being chased by ladies made of mist and you have to save the girl with the sparkly eyes you've never had the guts to say actual words to, there's an app for that.

I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn't have, burned down the set shop for my high school's theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad's penthouse.

But it gets better! Now I'm stuck being the sidekick to the guy who got me into this mess in the first place. It'll be a miracle if I survive until Monday.

###

Don’t miss the Goodreads giveaway running through August 31st. Readers can enter to win a paperback copy at: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/249261-how-i-magically-messed-up-my-life-in-four-freakin-days

Megan O'Russell is a native of Upstate New York who spends her time traveling the country as a professional actor. Megan's current published works include YA series Girl of Glass and The Tale of Bryant Adams: How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days as well as the Christmas romance Nuttycracker Sweet. 2018 projects include The Chronicles of Maggie Trent: The Girl Without Magic and book two in the Girl of Glass series Boy of Blood. For more information on Megan O’Russell's books, visit MeganORussell.com.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2vzWzqJ
Curiosity Quills Press: http://bit.ly/2uYGhnW

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2vBzh1M

Visit www.meganorussell.com for contact details, review copies, photos, and an author bio.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Promise of Dawn

I received a copy of THE PROMISE OF DAWN by Lauraine Snelling from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.   It is the first installment in the “Under Northern Skies” series.

I was thrilled to receive a book by Ms. Snelling.  I am in love with her series “Dakotah Treasures.”  I have read the books many a time over the years.  Sadly, I wasn’t a fan of THE PROMISE OF DAWN.  It didn’t have the usual elegance of her other novels, although I haven’t read all of her other novels yet.  This one seemed a bit rushed and the ending was rather boring, as if she forced herself to write it.  The ending definitely picked up and for the last half, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.  Because of that, I will read book 2.


Overall, it is an okay book.  If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially historical fiction with a Christian theme, then you will enjoy THE PROMISE OF DAWN.  I found it interesting to read about Norwegian immigrants, as usually books about the Old West don’t involve immigrants.  Parts of this book reminded me of the Kirsten series from American Girl, although Kirsten was from Sweden.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Her Darkest Knight

This is such a fun book!  I am a huge fan of historical romance, and became hooked in high school.  Unfortunately, everything I got my hands on back then was Harlequin.  Many of the sex scenes spoiled the overall fun  of the story, and random scenes broke up the flow as if they were placed only for shock value.  That’s not the case with HER DARKEST KNIGHT, which happens to be a clean historical romance.  Yes, it is CLEAN, but that doesn’t take away from the romance. 

Isabel and Turstin are electric together.  You can feel their chemistry and you keep rooting for them to succeed.  The setting is beautifully described and all of the action flows well with the plot.  Highly recommended for fans of historical romance.  This is an adult book, however, it would be perfect for teens too who are looking to get into the romance genre like I was once upon a time ago.


I did read this before reading book 1 and found it enjoyable, so this does work as a standalone.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Return

I received a copy of THE RETURN by Suzanne Woods Fisher from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  It is the third installment in “An Amish Beginnings” series.

I hadn’t read books 1 and 2 before, so I can safely say this can be read as a standalone.  I am interested in checking out the others now.

So, for my thoughts on the novel… It didn’t feel Amish.  Yes, the characters are Amish, but the book takes place in the 1700’s.  Be prepared for it not to have the feel of traditional Amish fiction.  I knew going into it that it would be historical, but I was still a little disappointed.  The book focuses on one teenage girl who is kidnapped by Native Americans.  I’ve read many books about captives, so I was intrigued, and this can stand with the best of them.


Overall, I enjoyed THE RETURN.  The characters are engaging.  The action is awesome, if cringe worthy at times.  This is excellent historical fiction.  I was disappointed to get to the end and realize it was a trilogy.  I would like to see what happens to Betsy and Tessa.  I would also like to see a novel about the Amish during the Revolutionary War, as this book took place a few years prior.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Royally Entitled

Oh my goodness.  This cover!  Okay, now that I’ve stopped gushing about it, onto the story.

The Medeival-esque setting could be a character in itself.  It sucked me in, and despite the negatives there, I wanted to live there!  It is a young adult novel with realistic characters and catchy dialogue.  It is a “clean” story, so you can feel comfortable sharing it with your mom and your daughter.  There is just enough mystery to keep the flow, but what I loved best was the romance.  Their chemistry flashes.  It didn’t feel like your run-of-the-mill historical romance, and there weren’t any bizarre actions like I’ve found in some Harlequin’s.   Overall, a very fun story!  Anika is a shining character who would be an excellent role model.


(I found it interesting that her family was into cider.  I’ve never read a story with that as the business.  I love stories that have that unusual tidbit to them.)

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Captivating Lady Charlotte

I received a copy of THE CAPTIVATING LADY CHARLOTTE by Carolyn Miller from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.  It is part of the “Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace” series.  If you enjoy regency romance with all the flair of the period, but without the sordid romance, than this series is for you.  It is Christian Fiction, so you know it will be clean and wholesome.  You won’t be ashamed to share it with your mother.

While some stories keep you reading because of a mystery, or because of some quest, the true strength in this book has to be the characters.  I thoroughly loved Lady Charlotte.  She had her faults, but who doesn’t?  You could understand each decision she made.  You could also understand the other characters.  Everyone was three-dimensional.  Those who you come to know well will help priove God’s love and carry on his message.


I did read book 1 before this, and you don’t need to have read it to enjoy Charlotte’s story.  However, it was nice to see glimpses of familiar faces.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Shattered Girls

SHATTERED GIRLS is remarkable.  Get this – it is about LIVING DOLLS.  I find this idea unique and tingling.  It plays to my childhood when I used to wish on stars that my dolls would come to life.  (Okay, this is more about real people becoming dolls, but still.  Reminded me a lot of my childhood.)


I won’t go into details of the synopsis, but know that this is well written and perfect for kids 12 and up.  There are plenty of creepy moments that leave you shuddering.  Then there is the excitement.  The technology.  The moments when you can’t stop reading.  This book is truly unique and imaginative.  If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, this is it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Cover Story

I received a copy of THE COVER STORY by Deb Richardson-Moore from Lion Fiction via Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  It is a Branigan Powers Mystery.

I am a huge fan of mysteries because they keep me thinking.  9 out of 10 times I never guess who did it until it is revealed.  Yeah, I must be clueless like that.  Something I really like about contemporary mysteries is how unique they are.  Older mysteries all tend to feel the same.  The market must be more competitive now.

THE COVER STORY is certainly unique.  I found it interesting that it dove into the College Greek scene.  I haven’t read any books about that before.  This mystery keeps you going without letting you pause for a breath.  If you start this, bear in mind that you’ll probably end up reading it in one sitting.  A nice aspect is that the story ties up in a bow.  It doesn’t abandon you with a cliffhanger. 

You can read this without being familiar with THE CANTELOPE THIEF, but if you do read that book first, it will make this one mean more. 


Please note that this is a Christian Mystery.  I enjoyed it for the fact that I knew going into it that it would be clean.

Monday, July 24, 2017

GET OUT OF THAT PIT

I received a copy of GET OUT OF THAT PIT: STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT GOD’S DELIVERANCE by Beth Moore from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. 

I like to think that things happen for a reason, and this book certainly arrived at the perfect moment in my life.  I lost my job.  It was a job I loved and I looked forward to going to work every day.  My creativity soared with my coworkers.  My husband and I had a house, and we had plans to remodel it this summer.  We had a baby who attended a daycare he adored. 

Suddenly, I didn’t have a job.  We had to pull Aidan from daycare and put our remodeling plans on hold.  I plunged into depression, and that’s something I rarely feel.  With each new job rejection letter, I felt as though I was plunging ever deeper into a greater hole.

This book seemed to speak directly to me.  Many parts affected me directly.  I also enjoyed reading Beth Moore’s personal story.  It is relatable and brings everything she is saying into perspective. 


This book is excellent for anyone who is going through something in their life.  It would also make a wonderful gift if you know someone who is struggling.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Egypt's Sister

I received a copy of EGYPT’S SISTER: A NOVEL OF CLEOPATRA by Angela Hunt from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  It is the first book in the “Silent Years” series.  I had read other books by Angela Hunt, so I knew it would be in for a treat.

This book is a delight.  I have always felt a passion for books about Ancient Egypt, and Cleopatra in general.  It all began when I was in elementary school and read Cleopatra’s fictional diary.  After that I couldn’t get my hands on enough material, both books and movies, about Egypt.  I haven’t read that much in the past few years, so imagine my delight when this fell into my lap and sparked my love all over again.

EGYPT’S SISTER is filled with rich, historical details.  It transports you into the past.  Unlike some stories that only feature happiness, this one is raw and realistic.  Go in knowing that you will gasp.  You will cringe.  You may need to set it down for a minute.


I feel the need to point out this is Christian fiction.  It adds an extra level of depth.  Usually the Cleopatra books that I read are strictly secular.   I look forward to reading the sequel when it comes out.

Fairy Keeper

FAIRY KEEPER wasn’t what I had expected.  Although I read the synopsis, I was expecting something more contemporary, mainly because the character on the cover seems to be wearing a hoodie.  My bad!  This is a fantasy perfect for teens.  I loved it, and I know I would have swallowed it up when I was in high school.

The different take on fairies is refreshing.  Lately everything fairy-driven that I’ve read involves a contemporary girl discovering she is actually a fairy.  Yeah, not in this book.

Sierra is a character to relate to and root for.  She is an excellent role model for teens.  I felt her joys and her misery.  Her personality shines through, helped along by the author’s excellent writing style.


I can’t wait to see where the adventure leads in books 2 and 3.  (I’m excited they are already out.  I hate having to wait a while for a sequel!)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Praying for Girls

I received a copy of PRAYING FOR GIRLS: ASKING GOD FOR THE THINGS THEY NEED MOST by Teri Lynne Underwood from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  This is what I consider to be a “parenting self-help” book geared to moms and dads with daughters.  Books like this always take me back to my childhood when my mom had one.  I can’t remember the name of it, but I do remember looking through it and thinking, “What are they talking about?”  Nothing felt relatable to me as a teenage girl.

I’m no longer a teenage girl, but reading through this, I found my inner child relating to much of it.  The chapter on being accepted really jumped out at me.  I never felt accepted in school, and many times it would weigh most heavily upon my shoulders.  My thoughts now on being accepted have changed, and they reflect the chapter’s thoughts.  I wonder if reading that back then, or having my mom talk to me like that, would have changed how I felt about school. 

Another section that leapt out to me was the one on relationships.  Normally in books like this, they are about boyfriend-girlfriend relationships.  This section talked about relationships between friends in general.  That would have really helped me growing up.


The best part about this book is that each chapter ends in prayers where you fill in the blanks accordingly.  This will help you in case you aren’t sure what to say, and it will help you to create your own prayers.