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.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Abby's Letters

Author Bio:
Dana Romanin has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl pretending to be Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables). She used to write under a forsythia bush, but now she writes in a messy office that she shares with her sewing obsessed daughter.
Dana’s short story, The Silence of Sand, was chosen for adaptation into a short film performed by the Blue Man Group. Dana has also published short fiction for teens in Encounter—The Magazine and had a short story published in a Family Fiction anthology, The Story 2014. Her first novel, Abby’s Letters, releases in June 2017.
She lives in a small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia with her wonderful husband, three beautiful kids, and a lot of persnickety pets.
You can find her blog and awkward videos on her website www.DanaRomanin.com. She can also be found on Twitter (@DanaRomanin) and her Facebook fan page (DanaRomaninAuthor).

Abby’s Letters Back Cover Copy:
For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.
Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.
There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?
Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.

Excerpt from Abby’s Letters:
Clark exhaled. “Anything for you, Janie.”
Oh. He had to pull out the nickname. It crushed her. Asking Clark to lie for her—she had never asked so much of him. It went against everything he believed in. She didn’t believe in all that Christian stuff, but he did. Keeping this secret would mean disrespecting his mother. It meant he would have to go against his beliefs.
Disrespect his God.
But his God wasn’t there for her, and He certainly wasn’t going to save Abby from foster care.
Jane would, though.
She entwined her fingers with his. He was so different than the little boy who’d played hide-and-seek with her on warm summer nights, back when her world was filled with her father’s laughter and her mother’s smiles. Now his muscle twitched in his strong jawline. What happened to the freckle-faced boy she had played G.I. Joe and Transformers with? He even had stubble.
“Thanks, Superman.”
“You’re the only one allowed to call me that.”
“And you’re the only one allowed to call me Janie.”
“This is too much. You can’t do this alone.” His thumb caressed her hand.
“I’m not. I have you.”

Endorsements:
“Heart-wrenching, beautiful, and complex, Abby’s Letters is an exquisitely written treatise on mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness, and love. Romanin skillfully tells this fragile family’s story with tenderness and grace, highlighting the interplay of a young woman’s painful past, uncertain future, and unflinching sisterly devotion. Each moment in this novel is a treasure shaped by masterful prose and lyrical storytelling. Do not miss this book. This is a story that should be read by anyone who is a mother or who loves one.”
--Megan Whitson Lee, author of Suburban Dangers and the award-winning novel, Captives.
“Dana Romanin’s debut novel is a poignant tale of love and lives lost, and one girl’s attempt to keep what’s left of her family together, despite all the odds. A wonderful and thought-provoking read.”
--Diana Sharples, young adult author of Running Lean.

Buy Links:


Sunday, July 2, 2017

With You Always

I received a copy of WITH YOU ALWAYS by Jody Hedlund from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  It is the first book in the “Orphan Train” series, and may I just point out that I can’t wait to read book two now. 

As a child, I read a lot of books about the Orphan Train.  It always interested me, but I kind of forgot about it, so to speak, when I didn’t find any books about it on young adult shelves.  This is a book for adults about the Orphan Train, from a slightly different perspective.  This is about a young woman who uses the Orphan Train to go out west as a skilled worker.  I hadn’t know the New York Children’s Aid Society had done this. 


Other than being a gem of historical fiction, WITH YOU ALWAYS explores the romance of Elise and Thornton in a beautiful way.  It helps to bring the west alive for the reader and this is an excellent piece of Christian literature.  I recommend this book in particular to those who were as obsessed with THE ORPHAN TRAIN ADVENTURES as I was during junior high.  (This book also explores the trails of New York City during the 1850s and that’s another topic I loved in middle grade.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible

I received a copy of NIV KIDS’ VISUAL STUDY BIBLE from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.  I knew this would be an interesting Bible, and I love exploring new Bibles.  My mom and I share and discuss them.  I hadn’t expected this, though.  This Bible is incredible!  At first sight, it can be intimidating.  It is thick and heavy.  Once you immerse yourself in the pages, however, you will be totally engrossed. 

This Bible explains tidbits about what you’re reading to better understand and critically think about the passage.  For example, on page 375, the sidebar explains that Jephthah’s daughter retreated to the mountains as her way of mourning the fact she would never marry or have children.  Other than the tidbits, the book also contains illustrations and photographs.


This has easily become one of my new favorite Bibles.  Although it is “for kids,” it can also be for adults.  This would make a great gift for anyone knew to Christianity or a First Communion.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Naomi's Hope

I received a copy of NAOMI’S HOPE by Jan Drexler from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  It is the third book in the series Journey to Pleasant Prairie.  I read a lot of Amish fiction, but this one was a little different.  It takes place in 1846, rather than in the present day.  This made me look forward to reading the novel all the more.

It is a charming book with memorable characters.  I loved reading about the Amish in the past.  For that alone I recommend this to fans of Amish fiction.


I haven’t read the other installments in the series, but I look forward to doing so now.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Runaway

I received a copy of THE RUN AWAY by Claire Wong from Lion Hudson Fiction via Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  I loved the sound of the description.  I am a sucker for “dark truths: and imagination.  It also takes place in a Welsh village and while studying my family tree, I discovered I had Welsh ancestors. 

Note: I was thinking this was an adult book, but it definitely seems more like young adult.  I think young adults would be interested in parts, and then other parts, in particular the village’s growth, would appeal more towards adults. 

While I did like the story, I didn’t love it.  I found it interesting to have the village be a point of view, but I kept wondering why no one when to get Rhiannon if they knew she was in the woods?  Maybe I missed something when I was reading?  I found some parts a little dry and I had to push myself to keep going.  There are some fast paced moments, but many were slow.  I wouldn’t say they were lyrical so much as…dense? 

I didn’t fully understand her reasoning for running away.  Yes, her home life was stressful, but in no way did it seem abusive.  Her need to run away (without an abusive home life) struck me as very childish.  It reminded me of MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.  He was younger than “almost 18.”  At 18, I would think she’d be thinking of different things than running away.


The book is interesting and I feel bad that I didn’t love it.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Local Poet

I received a copy of LOCAL POET by Paul Trembling from Lion Hudson via Kregel in exchange for an honest review.

I was excited by the description when I first ordered the book.  Then, when I opened the package, I read the tagline: He killed her, but who was she?  I couldn't wait to dive in.  

I loved the buildup of mystery.  Laney Grey is a poet.  She steps out in front of Rob's van.  She's killed.  It looks intentional and Rob is cleared.  End of the story, right?  A sad story, but the end of it.

Nope.  The book quickly becomes a page turner as Rob looks into the truth behind Laney Grey.  I loved watching her life unfold a little at a time.  I loved getting inside Rob's head as he makes revelations about her.  This is a short book, but there is so much packed into it.  When I finished, I couldn't believe it was less than 200 pages.

What I loved best about this book is how true it feels.  I used to be part of a local writers group before I had my baby and I am still in touch with many local authors.  Laney Grey reminded me or bits and pieces of many of them.  I've always wondered if they have dark pasts.  This felt as if Laney Grey was just one of the club!


This is an enticing read you won't be able to put down.  I highly recommend it to readers who are also authors (and/or poets) or who know someone who is an author (and/or poet).  

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible: Review


I received a copy of THE MOST MISUSED STORIES IN THE BIBLE: SUPRISING WAYS POPULAR BIBLE STORIES ARE MISUNDERSTOOD by Eric J. Bargerhuff from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

I was excited to get this in the mail.  Many of my friends quote Bible stories, especially on Facebook.  Now I could see if they were right!  I sat right down to read this, expecting to get through a chapter or two, but I flew through it in a night.  The writing flows and the content is captivating. 

This is unlike other “Bible” books I’ve read.  Usually they are analyzing the stories, trying to fit them into your life and your life into them.  This one explains the stories in a non-controversial way.  Eric Bagerhuff analyzes the stories for what they are.  He doesn’t read into them.  In my personal opinion, this book is appropriate for any denomination.  It will help clear up many misunderstandings you might encounter. 

I’d like to point out that the way he writes is enjoyable.  This book isn’t dry at all.

 
This is a great addition to libraries both at home and in Christian classes.  This is an excellent gift for those in your life who love learning more about the Bible.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cover reveal - Marked Beauty

MARKED BEAUTY by S.A. Larsen, Digital Cover Reveal Information

Title: Marked Beauty

Author: S.A. Larsen

Publisher: Ellysian Press

Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.

Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.

Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.

After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.

As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

ADD to GOODREADS

About the Author

S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at www.salarsenbooks.com.

Connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Goodreads

Giveaway

This is a #hashtag giveaway, where two lucky winners will receive a FREE eBook of Marked Beauty upon its release.

To participate:

  • Share one of the premade images via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or write up a blog post using one of the images.
  • Include #MarkedBeauty in your description.
  • Optional for extra entry: include Add to Goodreads (with link) in your description.

***Posts MUST contain the hashtag #MarkedBeauty for entry into the giveaway or we won’t be able to find you.

Pre-made tweets (you add the image)

"A lust 4 life energy. An ancient curse. One soul's journey thru death 2 find the cure." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0

"Uncovering some secrets can kill you, or worse ... steal your soul." #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

An ancient race. A timid girl. And a journey to the in-between. #MarkedBeauty #CoverReveal http://bit.ly/2qdE0q0 #YAlit

The giveaway begins May 17th and will be open until May 23rd. Winners will be announced May 24th via social media.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wings of the Wind


I received a copy of WINGS OF THE WIND by Connilyn Cossette in exchange for an honest review.  The book was given to me by Bethany House, so I knew to expect topnotch fiction.  Once again I was not disappointed.

 

This is the third installment in the “Out from Egypt” series.  I had previously read book two and looked forward to diving back into Christian historical fiction.  In this book, the Israelites are about to enter “The Promised Land.”

 

Connilyn Cossette brings her characters to life, and with them, the Bible.  Most of the historical fiction I read deals with the 1800’s, so it was refreshing to read something set much farther back in time.  This book looks at a time not often written about. 

 

My favorite part is how well the author explored Alanah.  You understood what she went through, where she was coming from.  You really got to know Alanah as a person and not just ink on a page.

 

I not only recommend this book, but the series as a whole.  You will be entertained and enlightened, transported back in time.  This is a great book for reading circles.  There is much fodder for literary discussion.  5 stars.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Too Deep for Words


I received a copy of TOO DEEP FOR WORDS by Andrea Boeshaar from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  I absolutely loved Book 1, so I was thrilled to read this one.  It had all the history of the Civil War that I adored.  I am a huge history buff.  Reading books like this is such a trip back in time.  It made me want to go to Gettysburg all over again.

However, I’m rating this at four stars instead of five.  I loved all of the characters.  I loved the end.  I loved the middle.  I just wasn’t a fan of the beginning.  It seemed to slow until we actually got to the action.  I get that we need build up, but I actually put the book down several times before picking it back up just because I was becoming bored. 

Once the dreaded occurs (read it to find out what I mean!) the book picked up speed and I just flew through it!  I can’t wait to read book 3.

My favorite part of book 2 is the makeshift orphanage.  Now that I have a baby, I can appreciate kids more. 

Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction that display the strong values of Christianity and “being a good person,” while still showing the gritty reality of war.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hello Stars


I received a copy of HELLO STARS by Alena Pitts with Wynter Pitts from ZonderKids in exchange for an honest review.  This is book 1 in the series “Lena in the Spotlights.”
 
This is an adorable book, and the best part – it is “clean.”  It is wholesome. 
 
HELLO STARS is geared toward twelve-year-old girls.  I remember when I was that age, a lot of the books I read weren’t all that wholesome.  There was one in particular about a pioneer family that was so bad, my mom took it away to read “in a few years.” 

This book helps to teach girls good morals while entertaining them.  There are many ways they will be able to relate to Lena, while still enjoying the adventure and escapism.

My favorite part of the book is how close-knit Lena’s family is.  It is refreshing to read such a book after having endured many young adult novels that show clueless, distant, childish parents. 

This book will be enjoyed by parents and middle grade readers.  I highly recommend it!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Trusting Grace


I received a copy of TRUSTING GRACE by Maggie Brendan from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  It is the third installment in the “Virtues and Vices of the Old West” series.  This is my first endeavor into this saga.  You don’t need to have read books 1 and 2 to enjoy this one (at least I didn’t).

 

I have read other books by Ms. Brendan, however.  Like those, I found the setting beautiful and the romance sweet.  The characters make you love them.

 

I love the Old West, so I was excited to read that aspect.  Unfortunately, this book didn’t feel all that original.  While the descriptions of the setting are great, it didn’t give me the “Old West” feel.

If you enjoy historic fiction with clean romance and Christian themes, you will like this book.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Under a Desert Sky

I received a copy of UNDER THE DESERT SKY: REDEFINING HOPE, BEAUTY, AND FAITH IN THE HARDEST PLACES by Lynne Hartke from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  Oftentimes we think that things in life are too hard.  We want to give up.  I remember a time back in college when my class decided to donate winter coats to an inner-city school.  I was broke.  I couldn’t donate 5 winter coats like everyone else.  My mom took me aside and asked me if I had two arms.  I said yes.  She asked if I had two legs.  I said yes.  She told me that there are people out there who wished they could be me, but I was complaining about not affording winter coats? 
 
This book reminded me of that conversation.  The author, Lynne Hartke, puts life in perspective using thoughtful insight.  Her struggle with cancer is real.  She writes in such a way that you understand exactly what she’s going through.  Her reflections will keep you up late pondering life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Never Give Up


I received a copy of NEVER GIVE UP: YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK by John Mason from Revell in exchange for an honest review.
 
I didn’t expect to read it as fast as I did.  The book flies by and feels as if the author is having a personal conversation with you.
 
Parts of this really resonated with me.  Ever since having my baby, at times I feel overwhelmed by everything I want to do, need to do, and just being exhausted in general.  Many parts spoke to me, such as about procrastination.  I’ve found myself procrastinating more now than ever before.  I blame the exhaustion – but I can’t let exhaustion stop me.  Sometimes things are obvious, like that saying, but we need someone else to say them to us to really make them click.
 
Other sections in this book are perfect for me to use for other people.  There are many people in my life who struggle to get things done.  This book provided tools for my tool belt so I can assist them and know just what to say.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Agrokinetic


Another excellent read from Grace M. DeLeesie.  The writing flows and you can tell she cares about her characters.  She cares about her setting and her creations.  She loves all of it.  If you’re looking for an easy read about magic and romance, check this book out.

My only complaint is the title. It certainly is unique, but hard to say, even in my mind.  I started just thinking of the book as “Ag.” 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Caught in Between


CAUGHT IN BETWEEN by Alison L. Perry is an interesting take on vampires.  For one thing, Sadie faints at the sight of blood.  I do that too!  My best moment was passing out at work when they did biometric screening.


If you’re worried this is just another Twilight knockoff, don’t worry, it isn’t.  The writing is fresh and Sadie is interesting.  This is a fast read that takes you back to what it feels like to be a “different” teenager.  The emotion is raw.  Alison Perry does an excellent job in making her characters real and her situations engaging. 


I’m glad this is book 1.  I look forward to seeing what happens in book 2!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Alabaster


I received a copy of ALABASTER by Chris Aslan from Lion Fiction via Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect, as the back of the book was a little vague.  I went into it, then, with an open mind, and it blew me away.  It isn’t just the research that makes this novel shine.  The characters themselves makes this story so heart wrenching and beautiful.  They are all so real.  The setting itself feels like a character.


It took me a while to realize this was historical fiction.  That may sound odd, but if you read the book, you’ll see what I mean.


This is Christian fiction, but it doesn’t quite feel that well.  Sometimes Christian fiction can eel preachy, whereas this is smooth.  The lesson come to you as your eyes open wide and you don’t realize you are learning about life.


I would love to see this made into a movie, but I fear that would lose some of the wonder of the words.


I recommend this book if you are looking for something beautiful and captivating to read.  It is a short book at only 202 pages, so it is a fast read.  If you’re like me, you will be able to read it in one sitting.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Witchwood Hollow


 


Looking for something fun and creepy to do this summer? If nature walks where the paranormal breathes down your neck is right up your alley, then check out Witchwood Hollow. Legend has it that the woods are haunted by the spirit of a witch. If you step inside this dark, shadowed crop of trees, you may never exit.


Travelers have been coming to Witchwood Hollow for years to test this legend. Beware – this is private property, so do tread lightly. Plus, you don’t want the witch to catch you!


I caught up with a local teen, who wishes to remain anonymous, about her trip into Witchwood Hollow.


“It was scary, you know?” She kept glancing behind her during our interview. “You have to go at night for the witch to catch you. I swear I heard someone call my name and my cousin thought someone grabbed her ankle.”


Many locals dare each other to see how long they can last in the woods. If you’re up for the dare, then visit Witchwood Hollow in Arnn, New York. Anyone you ask there can point you in the right direction.


If you’re looking for a fictionalized account of what happens within Witchwood Hollow, check out ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW by Jordan Elizabeth, published by Curiosity Quills Press.

Esteemed Vampire Cat


This book is perfect for cat lovers.  Opps, I mean purrrrfect.  Colt has an awesome personality and his adventures will make you laugh, cringe, and pull the book closer, your breath coming quicker.  I’m definitely getting this next Christmas for some of my cat-obsessed friends.

Overall, I recommend this for its overall good fun and the bit of creepiness thrown in.  This is perfect for escapism reading.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

EBB TIDE

I received a copy of THE EBB TIDE by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  I must say, this is by far my new favorite book by Beverly Lewis and my new favorite work of Amish fiction.

I loved so many things about it.  I loved the characters.  Each one felt real.  I had a baby six months ago, so I could relate to Monique’s struggles with dealing with a newborn.  I also found myself comparing my son to Connor. 

I loved the descriptions of Cape May, although at times it seemed as if the book was written just to provide tourist information for that spot.  Cape May reminded me of York Beach in Maine, where my family and I used to vacation every summer.  After reading THE EBB TIDE, I can’t wait to go to Cape May.  I looked up the destination online and saw ads for many of the sites mentioned in the book.  I’m passing this on to my mother so she can be as excited about a trip to Cape May as I am!

I also loved Sallie’s struggles with coming to terms with her faith.  Her understanding and questions are very real, and I like the way her inner turmoil is solved at the end of the novel.


On a last point, I found the book odd when compared to other works by Beverly Lewis.  It didn’t feel like her writing.  Normally her books aren’t so descriptive.  Things about it felt as if I was reading a novel by a new-to-me author.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Damned and The Pure - Series


At first, I was a little daunted by it being a collection of 4 books.  I only get to read at night on my computer, so I worried how long it would take me to get through them.  Wellll – I flew through the collection!  Oh my goodness.  These are books where you can see everything.  They feel more like a movie than a book.  You’re in there with the characters.


With some books I’ve read lately, the sequels just falter while book one shines, or book one falters and the sequels are amazing.  Rest assured that the writing in these books stays steady. 


Be warned: This isn’t your typical angels and demons story.  Be prepared to be sucked in.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Psychokinetic & The Psychomic


I had read other books by Grace and loved them.  She has a way with words.  It paints a picture and makes you care about the characters.  You can see how well Grace has developed her writing talent.

I hadn’t read a witch book in a while, so I found it refreshing.  This isn’t your standard “witch” book.  I love Erika!

Beautiful cover, by the way. 

Heroine's Journey

At first, I was confused.  I wasn’t sure if it was the same girl (Guin and Gwen) or two girls in different universes, or two girls in different time periods.  Once I figured it out, I enjoyed the book a lot more.  I love the historical detail and how each girl became a strong individual.  Such an adventure (meeting someone in the past like that) would have been a dream come true for my younger self.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Question Woman & Howling Sky

Going into this book, I knew it would have a post-apocalyptic theme. I like those books. I find them to be scarier than any ghost story because this might happen in the future. So I went into this knowing it would be entertaining, and scary, but I didn’t expect the uniqueness of the Navajo theme. You can tell the author did extensive research during the writing process. Not only the Navajo culture, but the entire setting shines off the pages. The setting itself feels like a character. I loved the concept of the Winds. Very mysterious. I also loved Little Coyote. What a quirky and endearing character!

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Trail of Crumbs


I received a copy of A TRAIL OF CRUMBS by Susie Finkbeiner from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  This is the sequel to A CUP OF DUST.

I love to read, and I say I loved a book, but they don’t always stick with me.  A CUP OF DUST, however, has stuck with me.  Often I find myself thinking about the characters and the situations they went through.  A CUP OF DUST is truly a beautiful, heart-wrenching book.  I was worried that A TRAIL OF TEARS wouldn’t live up to its predecessor.  At the same time, I couldn’t wait to read it!

It lived up to my expectations (although book 1 remains my favorite).  A TRAIL OF TEARS returns the reader to the Spence family as they make an important move in their lives.  The historical detail is brilliant and in-depth.  You can tell the author put a lot of time into doing her research. 

My grandmother lived through the depression, and often times I thought about her while reading.  “Did she hear that news?”  “Did she use that product?”  “What did she think about…?” 

I highly recommend this to lovers of historical fiction or anyone who wants to escape into an amazing read.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sandpiper Cove


I received a copy of SANDPIPER COVE by Irene Hannon in exchange for an honest review from 0Revell.  This is part of the “Hope Harbor” series.


 This is a romance with Christian undertones.  The story involves a police chief falling in love with an ex-convict, and vice versa.  That intrigued me when I read the synopsis.  I read quite a bit of romance, and I haven’t seen that dynamic before.  I couldn’t wait to see how the author carried it out (and hoped it wouldn’t be weak).


 The characters stood out to me the most.  Everyone felt real, as if I would meet them if I traveled to Oregon.  Many of the characters reminded me of someone I know in real life.  (I’m not mentioning names so no one takes offense!)   Even the secondary characters stand out.  Some authors don’t spend time developing them, but you can tell Irene Hannon loves each and every one of them.



Did I mention how in love I am with the setting and want to go there on vacation?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Andi Under the Big Top


I received a copy of ANDI UNDER THE BIG TOP by Susan K. Marlow from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.  This is the second installment in the series “Circle C Milestones.”  The series is about a little girl, Andrea (known as Andi), growing up on a ranch in California in the 1800s.  It is simply, but elegantly written, and contains Christian undertones. 

 

I liked this book even better than book one.  In ANDI UNDER THE BIG TOP, a circus comes to town.  Andi is enthralled by it, but then she meets a runaway who is abused by the circus, and danger comes to someone she loves.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the danger does have a happy ending perfect for children. 

 

I liked how the story shows the darkness behind circuses.  People usually just see the glamour, and don’t realize the horrors of it in its youth.  Much of this book reminded me of Dumbo, although it isn’t the story of an elephant taken from its mother.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Andi Saddles Up


I received a copy of ANDI SADDLES UP by Susan K. Marlow from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.  It is the first book in the “Circle C Stepping Stones” series.

 

I had previously read the young adult series about Andi Carter, so Susan K. Marlow already had a fan in me!  Her writing is pure pleasure.  This historical fiction series is geared toward children ages seven to ten.  I can see this appealing more to girls, but because of the horses and ranch life, boys might also be interested.  From my time as an elementary teacher, I can see student snatching up copies of this book.  There are many teachable moments throughout the chapters.  Parents and teachers can take the time to explain about the Wild West and ranch life in the 1800s. 

 

In ANDI SADDLES UP, Andi meets a new friend.  Unfortunately, Andi’s older brother and her new friend’s father are at war over land each family wants to claim.  Andi learns important lessons about friendship and not allowing her own anger to make her act impulsively.  The religious undertones aren’t heavy at all, perfect for subtlety teaching children. 

 

Highly recommended!  I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

 

I’m passing this book on to a friend’s daughter.  I can see myself buying more copies of this to give as gifts in the future.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted


I received a copy of HOPE FOR THE SAME-SEX ATTRACTED: BIBLICAL DIRECTION FOR FRIENDS, FAMILY MEMBERS, AND THOSE STRUGGLING WITH HOMOSEXUALITY by Ron Citlau from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. 

Many of my friends are homosexual.  I have seen them struggle personally.  I have seen their families struggle to accept them.  I have seen the cruelty shown to them on a daily basis.  It is disheartening.

I am religious.  I find solace in religion, and while many of my homosexual friends were religious growing up, some of them have turned away because they don’t feel accepted, or worse – have been told to turn away.  I found this book refreshing in that it isn’t just preaching.  It reflects on the author’s personal experiences.  It is written in a conversational way that keeps the chapters fast-paced.

Don’t expect an answer.  Don’t expect hate.  Instead, this book teaches thought, reflection, and love.
I recommend this book to those who wish to think more about the topic of homosexuality.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Long Time Gone


I received a copy of LONG TIME GONE by Mary Connealy from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  It is the second installment in the Cimarron Legacy series.  Once again, Bethany House delivers quality historical fiction with Christian undertones.  I’m never disappointed when I pick up a book from Bethany House.

LONG TIME GONE transports the reader to the Wild West.  It reminded me of all the old westerns my mom and I would watch on television.  Mary Connealy is an excellent author to take you on this journey.  There were some moments I laughed out loud.  Other time I went “aw.”  She makes each character well rounded and the setting blossoms around you.  There is just the right amount of romance without making to too heavy. 
My favorite part was how well I could picture everything.  I love history, and this felt like I was being transported back in time.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Strings

When I think back on STRINGS by G. Miki Hayden, the first word that comes to mind is “bizarre.”  It is all about different dimensions.  I know there are other books like that out there, but this was my first reading one and I found it delightful.  It was all over the place in a great way!  Some parts were confusing, but they all led up to clarity, and the best part was that Robert, the main character, was confused too.  I find him very real.  Instead of being “perfect,” he was flawed like any teenage boy.  Instead of grasping the new concepts quickly, he struggled with them, and eventually understood.  I could relate to that. 

Something that really stood out to me was when his mother taught him to hold photographs by the edges.  My grandmother always stressed that to me!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison


I received a copy of THE ELUSIVE MISS ELLISON by Carolyn Miller from Kregel in exchange for an honest review. It is the first installment in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series.

 

This book is delightful!  I have been sick since February (a cold that just will not go!), so I settled down on the couch thinking to read through this over the space of a few days.  Imagine my surprise when it sucked up my entire day and left me wanting more!

 

The Regency world comes alive for Carolyn Miller.  I’ve read Regency romances before, and they have never transported me the way THE ELUSIVE MISS ELLISON did.  It is strongly reminiscent of Jane Austen’s works. When compared to those other Regencies I’ve read, I found these characters had more depth and dimension.  The personalities are vibrant. They weren’t just focused on the romance.  This book is also free of smut.  (It can be considered Christian fiction)  Granted, I knew what I was getting with some of those other Regency Romances.  The covers involved a shirtless man in most cases.  Without the smut, I found this book to offer much more adventure and heart.

 

I have a friend with the last name of Ellison, so I pictured her as Lavinia Ellison while I read.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Stolen Heart


I received a copy of A STOLEN HEART by Amanda Cabot from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  It is book one of the Cimarron Creek trilogy.  This was my first dive into the series, and I found it delightful.  It was also my first Amanda Cabot book.

 

She has a beautiful storytelling flair.  Some historical fiction novels feel too modern, as if they are taking place in some backwoods community where people still have access to modern television (hence the modern talk) but rely on horses for transportation.  A STOLEN HEART immerses the reader directly into the past, in this case Texas in 1880.  I would love to see this as a Hallmark mini-series. 

 

I felt bad for everything Lydia endured with her horrible fiancĂ© and the local hatred for Northerners.  Some parts broke my heart for her.  However, there were many more endearing moments, and I finished the novel with a smile on my face. 

 

I recommend this to fans of Christian fiction, historical fiction, and tender romance.  My only complaint is a petty one.  I didn’t really care for the title.  It is too similar to other books I’ve seen, that involve “Stolen Hearts.”

 

By the way, I loved the inclusion of the map and family tree!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Quick Tips for Busy Families


I received a copy of QUICK TIPS FOR BUSY FAMILIES: SNEAKY STRATEGIES FOR RAISING GREAT KIDS by Jay Payleitner from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  Now that I actually have a kid, albeit a baby who focuses mainly on eating and sleeping, books like this hit home more.  Maybe it is better that I’m starting off fresh with a baby.  I can better incorporate his tips into our daily lives.

 

The 144 tips in this book are easy to read and sometimes amusing.  I found myself engulfed in Jay’s writing style.  All of the tips made me feel as if I was sitting next to Jay having a cup of tea and a friendly conversation.  I didn’t expect to read as much as I did in one sitting.  Be warned: this is an addictive book!

 

The one I liked best was to laminate stuff, like newspaper articles, so that they will always be treasured.  This made me think of my maternal grandmother.  She kept all newspaper articles about herself, my grandfather, my mom, and my uncle.  After she passed away, we enjoyed reading them, and tucked most of them into a keepsake box (we gave my uncle his).  I hope to do something similar with my son.

 

I HIGHLY recommend this book!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Courageous Love


I received a copy of COURAGOEUS LOVE by Susan K. Marlow from Kregel in exchange for an honest review.  It is part of the Circle C Milestones series.  This is a young adult series depicting the further adventures of Andrea Carter.


I am a huge fan of every Andrea Carter book that I’ve read so far.  The books take place in the 1800s, and I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it is geared toward a youthful audience.  Andrea is a bit of a tomboy.  She lives on a ranch and would rather help out her brothers than be a lady like her mother and sisters.  However, Andrea is full of heart.  She loves her family and her animals.  Andrea has her faults, which makes her relatable and an awesome heroine to root for.


In this adventure, horrible things begin to happen on the ranch and leads point to criminals from her brother’s past.  Andrea handles everything realistically, and I loved seeing Riley play a role in this story.  This might actually be my favorite of the Circle C Milestones books, apart from the first in the series.


Like all the books, I recommend this to anyone who enjoys religious historical fiction.  Susan K. Marlow is a strong writer, so you know you won’t be disappointed. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Would you like to know? Collection


I received a copy of the WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW COLLECTION in exchange for an honest review from Lion Hudson via Kregel.  This is a set of six small books for children that teach the reader about different religious topics.  The books in this collection are: WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT GOD, WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW THE BIBLE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW JESUS, WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW HOW TO PRAY, WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS, and WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW THE STORY OF EASTER.  The books are beautifully illustrated and the sentences are simple enough for children to understand, and to spark their imaginations so that they turn to parents and guardians for more information.  I read them to my son, who is four months old, and he enjoyed them, even though they are too advanced for him.  It will be fun reading these with him again when he’s older.


Overall, I do like the collection.  I think it is a great teaching tool for children, and would be perfect in a Sunday school classroom or a bedroom library.  However, there was something that bothered me.  It talked about how even if we are bad, God will forgive us.  It didn’t say to be a good person, though.  This is probably just something that perturbed me.