Monday, December 30, 2013

Need You Now

Title: Need You Now
Author: Beth Wiseman
Labels: Fiction | Christian | General
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 20, 2012
Recommended To: Women, Adults, YA
Contains: Tis clean.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas. Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year-old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way. Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried Brad and Darlene through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises. While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of the students starts paying more attention to Darlene than is appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time. If Darlene ever needed God . . . it's now. Experience a family's triumph over lies, betrayal, and loss while still clinging to the One who matters most.
This is such an incredibly emotionally charged book. I'm not sure that it's a "break down and cry" kinda emotional, but it was emotional nonetheless. I thought Need You Now was a very realistic, relate-able book for any reader.

Need You Now centers around the individual lives of a family who moves into a small town. In the attempt to adjust to their new lives, the kids fall into touchy situations and in some cases, dangerous predicaments. Darlene and Brad have their own problems as the move puts new pressure on their marriage, causing them both the handle the tension in different ways. It was really interesting to watch how the family changed and interacted with each other while each had their own problems that affected the others. In the end, each needed to press toward God in order to work through the present issues.

This is a book I think anyone could enjoy and to relate in some way. Recommended!  I bought this book, and therefore was not required nor asked to write a review, nor a positive one at that. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Redwall (Redwall, #1)

Title: Redwall
Author: Brian Jacques
Labels: Fiction | Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin/Philomel Books
Publication Date: September 20, 2002
Recommended To: Children, YA, Adult
Contains: The best story ever.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice is threatened by Cluny the Scourge - the evil-one-eyed rat warlord - and his battle-hardened horde of predators. Cluny is certain that Redwall will fall easily to his fearsome army but he hasn't bargained for the courage and strength of the combined forces of the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends.
Redwall has been one of my favorite books and series since I was a kid. No matter how old I get, it never gets old. I love that regardless of your age, Redwall is a book that is enjoyable for everyone. I have friends who read it as kids and are still periodically reading them as adults. I am fully convinced that Redwall is and will continue to be a classic.

Redwall, the first book in the series, revolves around the adventures of a young mouse named Matthias. Matthias lives at Redwall Abbey, a peaceful sort of place dedicated to helping woodland creatures in need and living in peace in Mossflower. All this is shattered when the notorious rat Cluny the Scourge shows up on the scene, dead set on conquering the abbey and enslaving its inhabitants. It's up to Matthias to step up and lead his fellow creatures to victory over the rat and his horde, with the help of relics left behind by the deceased Martin, the Warrior of Redwall.

I'm very glad I stumbled upon this old favorite and got the chance to read Redwall again! Highly recommended to all ages! I borrowed this book, and therefore was not required nor asked to write a review, nor a positive one at that. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Critical Reaction

Title: Critical Reaction
Author: Todd M. Johnson
Labels: Fiction | Legal Thriller
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: November 19, 2013
Recommended To: Men, Women, Adult, YA
Contains: Clean

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: After decades of turning out plutonium for the arms race, the Hanford Nuclear Facility has long been shuttered, though its deadly legacy cannot be fully contained. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings for radiation leaks are told the risks are under control. They believe it, until the worst happens: a thunderous explosion in the dead of night.
          Two workers, lifer Poppy Martin and new hire Kieran Mullaney, believe themselves lucky to survive the blast. But as the debris is cleared, they discover their safety is not assured. Dead ends and closed doors halt their efforts to discover what really happened--and what radiation may have poisoned them. When stalling and threats force them into the hands of experienced trial lawyer Ryan Hart, they learn that theirs is no ordinary lawsuit. There is something still hidden in the desert of eastern Washington, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure it never sees the light of day.
I had an interesting time reading this book. Initially I was a bit turned of some preconceived ideas of what a thriller should be like. Before Critical Reaction, I had only read one other thriller. This first thriller was crazy face paced, drew you in immediately and didn't let you go even if you did want to take a quick break from it. So that's the impression I had stuck in my mind of what thrillers were like. Evidently legal thrillers are a bit different, but by the end I liked it just as much.

Critical Reaction revolves around a legal case in which Kieran is suing the nuclear waste company that he works for. The lawsuit is a result of an accident that happened several months ago, one in which Kieran is pretty sure he was exposed to radiation. He jumps into the lawsuit with one agenda--to find answers. He enlists a college friend to help him, and thus enters Emily and her estranged father. The trio join forces but soon find that the accident involved far more than anyone realized.

I really did end up liking this book a lot, despite my early reservations toward it. I loved that the point of view switched around to various people involved in the accident, which allowed the reader to periodically see different pieces of the puzzle and attempt to figure out the big picture. Of course, like any good book that uses this technique, it was never enough to get too far ahead and figure out everything before the characters, but it was enough to give the reader motivation to try and thus remain hooked. This is definitely a book that I would recommend!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Title: Real
Author: Jamie Snyder
Labels: CLGN | Christian Living
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Recommended To: YA, Adults
Contains: N/A

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Does your Christianity "show"? Pastor Jamie Snyder shares how to have a deeper, more satisfying walk with Jesus that goes beyond church on Sunday.
Even though this was a rather short book, and easy read, I found Real to be very thought provoking and at times, convicting. Snyder takes on the task of posing the question we should all be asking ourselves: if it weren't for Sunday, would anyone know we were Christians?

Snyder proceeds to step by step evaluate seven aspects that define a life dedicated to Jesus, including unbridled generosity, daring courage, rebellious joy, and others. Despite its short length, this book touches on so many aspects of being a following of Jesus. Probably my favorite quote of the whole book was at the end, literally one of the last pages where Snyder says, "Political and religious leaders of the day even accused the church of turning the world upside down in the name of Jesus. [...] I would love to be accused of turning the world upside down in the name of Jesus."

I liked that each chapter ended with questions, which makes this a great book to use for a youth group, Sunday school, or other small group study. It's an easy read--I made it through it in only a few days despite work, school, homework, and being sick. But at the same time, I found it challenging in a lot of ways. Definitely worth the read!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically

Title: Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically
Author: John MacArthur
Labels: Church and Ministry | Pastoral Helps | Pastoral Care & Counseling
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: August 23, 2005
Recommended To: Counseling Students, Church Leaders
Contains: N/A

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Solid theological foundations of biblical counseling are clearly presented in contrast to humanistic and secular theories of psychological counseling. A practical, proactive, and relevant book for students, church leaders, and lay people. This collection of writers represents some of America's leading biblical teachers and counselors.

Other contributors include: Ken L. Sarles, David Powlison, Douglas Bookman, David B. Maddox, Robert Smith, William W. Goode, and Dennis M. Swanson.
This was a book I had to read for a counseling class I took at the beginning of the semester. Now, I'm going to lay this right out from the beginning--I don't agree with everything that MacArthur teaches, nor all his views. My professor made a point of saying that she didn't agree with everything either; however, she said that she thought it was probably the best single book that covers everything on the subject.

On her second statement, I would agree. I think that if you're looking for one book to give you a general knowledge base on the topic, this is a good book to pick up. It covers most of the bases, and explains things thoroughly, I thought. If you're looking for a book to get you started with Biblical Counseling, or just something to understand the subject better, this is a good place to start.

I bought this book, and therefore was not required nor asked to write a review, nor a positive one at that. I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas in Apple Ridge

Title: Christmas in Apple Ridge
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Labels: Fiction | Contemporary
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Recommended To: Women, YA, Adult
Contains: Clean romance.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Experience the holidays with the Plain folk of Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania, in these touching novellas centered around love, romance, heartache, and restoration from best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall.
Since this is a three-in-one, I'm going to briefly review each novella individually.

The Sound of Sleigh Bells: I thought this novella was really good. It was an interesting read, and I loved that it had a secrecy strand running through it. The secret that Beth carried throughout the better part of the book added depth and built up the story well. It ended up not being quite as dramatic as I had expected--however I over exaggerate things in my head--but I thought it was a real life issue that can be relatable to the guilt felt by many people today. I loved Jonah to death. He was such a cool character with an awesome background. My favorite part was probably that they wrote letters to each other, which I love the idea of!

The Christmas Singing: This was probably the most unique Amish story I've read, hands down. Mattie is a professional cake decorator, who was once in love with Gideon before he brutally dumped her with the misleading belief that he was having an affair. As it turns out, the real story behind his reasons were heartbreaking and made the story so much more deep and real. Loved it!

The Dawn of Christmas: First off, I just need to say that I absolutely love the name Levi. Definitely one of my favorite guy names. Anyway, I thought this novella was very interesting and had a lot of unexpected twists and turns to it. It starts off with Levi getting hurt, and Sadie saving his life by coincidentally finding him. Both characters have scars from the past and an intriguing fear of commitment, that I think most people can identify with on some level. I thought this was really great and well worth the read.

Overall I thought these three novellas were fantastic, and definitely got me in the Christmas mood! Highly recommended! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

King (Books of the Infinite, #3)

Title: King
Author: R.J. Larson
Labels: Fiction | Fantasy
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
Recommended To: Middle & Highschool, Adult
Contains: Clean.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Akabe of Siphra is certain his people are insane. Why have they made him a king? What, in the name of peacetime boredom do kings do?
          Frustrated by a lengthy silence from his Creator, the Infinite, Akabe decides to prove himself as king by undertaking a monumental task, his own lifelong dream: Rebuild the Infinite’s temple in Siphra. But Akabe’s impulsive decision sweeps him into a storm of controversy. The Infinite’s enemies join forces in Siphra, and beyond, conspiring to destroy the emerging temple—and to kill their king and his mysterious new queen.
Initially, I didn't really think I was going to like this book, but I'll be honest, I ended up really enjoying it. I initially didn't have high hopes for this book because it looked like it was aimed more toward juvenile fiction (based off the cover and blurb), which is not my age level and therefore usually doesn't really keep my attention, unless it's a classic or just a flat out awesome juvenile fiction.

However, I loved this book. Each character was unique and real; the setting was detailed and vivid; the plot was intriguing and kept me guessing without losing me in the process. One of the things that really stood out to me was the seemingly implied parallel between the god figure in King, referred to as the Infinite. I don't know if this was actually intended or not, but it seemed to me that the Infinite was a representation of God. As far as I could tell, the root theology behind this lined up, although of course the female prophet (one of the main characters) had certain powers that are not necessarily present today, though they could be compared to gifts and temporary abilities God used through His own prophets to fulfill His purpose. I don't really know how to explain it any better than that, but I thought it was cool to see the similarities.

Overall, I thought it was a great book and definitely one I would recommend to those adults as well as middle and highschoolers. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Redeeming Love

Title: Redeeming Love
Author: Francine Rivers
Labels: Fiction | General | Romance
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: May 9, 2005
Recommended To: Adults
Contains: Mature topics

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: California's gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.
          Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father's heart in everything, Michael obeys God's call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel's every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband's pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does...the One who will never let her go.
This book was really deep and emotional, but I loved it. Redeeming Love is a retelling of the Biblical account of Hosea and Gomer. For those of you who may not be familiar with this account, Hosea was a Biblical prophet who, by the instruction of God, marries a prostitute. God's purpose in this marriage was to show a picture of the relationship between Himself and Israel.

Coming into this book, I was already well aware of the Biblical account of this particular couple, so I was very interested in seeing where Rivers would go with it. She ended up going above and beyond my expectations. I wasn't expecting the way in which these two unlikely characters ended up together, but it fit the story well. While some details differed from the Biblical account, the changed details worked well for the story and the overall plot followed the main point.

I thought this book was fantastic. It showed the struggles on both sides, and dug deep into the emotional spectrum of it. I was glad it showed those struggles without crossing any lines between appropriate and inappropriate. I would highly recommend this book to adults--adults because it does touch on mature topics. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

NOTE: I read the revised Christian version, which has had all explicit scenes/language taken out of it. I have heard that the original copy is rather explicit. Depending on how you feel about such things, you may want to take that into consideration.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos

Title: Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos
Author: Vicki Courtney
Labels: Religion | Christian Life | Women's Issues
Publisher: B&H Books
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Recommended To: Adult Women
Contains: Mature topics.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Most every woman dreams about having a family and a building a home. We grow up on a steady diet of fairytales and chick flicks that drive our dreams . . . and leave us with a sugarcoated version of reality. We want it all: the prince, the kiss, the proposal, the ring, the castle, and eventually, the kids in smocked rompers playing cheerfully on the perfectly manicured lawn. Our hopes and dreams are pinned on the world’s version of happily-ever-after.
          The problem is, the fairytales and chick flicks end where real life begins. We never see that follow-up scene where the prince and princess argue at 3 a.m. over who will get up with the colicky newborn. Or the princess reluctantly returns to work to help pay the bills and feels the stress of juggling work and family. And you certainly won’t see that part where the princess moves her last child into the dorm and realizes the bulk of her identity has been based on being a mother.
          The truth is, marriage and motherhood are hard. Few of us are prepared to handle the balancing act of being a good wife and a good mother, without one or the other getting the short end of the stick. No matter how much we give or how hard we try, we never quite feel like it’s enough. And heaven help us, we always imagine every one else is doing a much better job.
          In Ever After, best-selling author Vicki Courtney addresses the realities of marriage and motherhood, the difficulties and the blessings. It offers women a behind the scenes glimpse of what a fairytale really looks like on the average day for the average wife and mom. Poignant, funny, and even cathartic, Vicki shares mistakes made, lessons learned, and memories to keep. Most of all, she reflects the hope and promise that God meets us in the middle wherever we are in the journey.
Ever After ended up being one of the most enjoyable books I've read lately (and I've read a lot of enjoyable ones lately). Courtney has a great writing style and an absolutely fantastic sense humor. All throughout her book she makes amusing comments and puts in her own quirky sarcasm to the issue she's addressing--always clarifying that she's joking, of course.

In this book, Courtney addresses women's expectations to their "happily ever after fairy tale"--the unrealistic expectations that let us down because we have grown up in a culture that feeds fairy tale lies to us. Quite a few of these were expectations were ones that I personally hadn't even consciously thought of, but realized were true of most women. (Do note that I am an unmarried woman, so what do I know anyway?) Despite the fact that I am unmarried, I still feel that I gained a lot through this book that is aimed more at married women. Though the whole book I still found things that were applicable to me, and tucked other truths into the back of my mind for future reference.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book. I would definitely recommend Ever After to married women, engaged women, and even single women who are still waiting for their "fairy tale" to come true. I received a free copy of this book from a publicity agent (Shelton Interactive) for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Title: Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus
Author: Joyce Magnin
Labels: Fiction
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Recommended To: Girls, Middle-schoolers
Contains: Nothing I can remember being inappropriate.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she's getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia ... until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they're right. Four x-rays later, Harriet's ankle---and her heart---are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She's doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it's time for her to be put out to pasture---God has a different plan.
In all honestly, I hate to be negative, but I really wasn't thrilled with this book. Maybe it was the age range it was aimed at, maybe it was something else. I don't know. I initially thought it was an interesting concept for a plot line, but it just didn't keep my interest.

In a last stroke of independence--or possibly rebellion...?--Harriet Beamer sets out on a journey across the United States to her children's home, where she will be living. However, she insists on using only public transportation, collecting salt-and-pepper shakers as she goes. Throughout this trip she meets all sorts of colorful characters, though some a bit strange.

Middle-school children will probably enjoy this crazy journey, but I'm afraid it fell short for me. It didn't hold my attention, and in my opinion, the ending fell short of the built up story. I received a free copy of this book from the author for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

7 Steps to Knowing, Doing, and Experiencing the Will of God

Title: 7 Steps to Knowing, Doing, and Experiencing the Will of God
Author: Tom, Mike, and Daniel Blackaby
Labels: Juvenile Nonfiction | Religion | Christianity | Christian Life
Publisher: B&H Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2013
Recommended To: Teens, Young Adults
Contains: N/A

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: "Seven Steps to Knowing, Doing, and Experiencing the Will of God for Teens" goes deeper than just knowing about God, it guides you to partner with God in what He is doing all around you to make an eternal difference in this world.
          Based on the world-renowned Experiencing God teachings, Tom, Mike, and Daniel Blackaby (Henry Blackaby’s son and grandsons) utilize cartoon illustrations, true-life stories, and fresh graphics as they take an earnest, yet humorous, look at what it means for teenagers to have a vibrate personal relationship with God in their often random and challenging settings.
7 Steps is by no means a perfect, seven step wonder that will bring you closer to God no matter what. In the conclusion, Blackaby makes it clear that there are no exact, easy, one-size-fits-all set of steps in which to enhance your relationship with God. However, this books is a great tool for pointing teens and young adults in the right direction as they seek to draw nearer to God.

This book was an easy, understandable read aimed at a teenaged audience. Teens won't get lost in all the technical terms and high theology, but these three authors keep the readers attention as they draw them further into this quest to experience God. Throughout the book are personal stories and examples, as well as short clips about well known Christians who went through the same sort of things that particular chapter is talking about.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book and resource for anyone working with teens. I'll be honest, I got a lot out of it myself even as a college student. As I look into youth ministry, this is a book I'll be keeping close by to reference and loan out to both teens and those working with them. Definitely a keeper!

I received a free copy of this book from a publicity agent (Shelton Interactive) for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bandit's Moon

Title: Bandit's Moon
Author: Sid Fleischman
Labels: Fiction
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: April 29, 2008 (reissue edition)
Recommended To: Everyone, particularly younger children and young teens.
Contains: Clean

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: After a narrow escape from the nasty O. O. Mary's clutches, Annyrose ventures forth to find her long-lost brother Lank in gold-digging territory. But the journey is rough, bandits and fiends waiting for the traveler at every bend. Soon Annyrose runs into Joaquin Marieta, legendary bandit of the Gold Rush.
          This complete disaster, however, soon appears to be no less than a blessing for both! They can help each other out: Annyrose can teach Joaquin how to read so he will know where danger lies, and in turn he can make sure she's safe and fed. But in a time when corruption and greed are running wild, will their friendship be more than fool's gold?
If this isn't a classic already, then it definitely should be. Bandit's Moon is by far my favorite childhood book, and still remains one of my favorites even today. Although aimed at middle school aged children, it is a fantastic tale of a young girl who ends up on a crazy adventure with Mexican bandits. Though less detailed than a novel aimed at an older audience would be, I still feel like Bandit's Moon captures the culture of the time period.

Based off a true--though little known--person, there is plenty of leeway for wild adventures without going far from what truly happened to the real Joaquin. The dialogue between characters is written to show the accents of the Mexican bandits, as well as the many other characters. Each character has his own story to tell, with each melding together to push the plot along.

Bandit's Moon is a fantastic tale of adventure that will take young readers right along with the Mexican Bandits and their young tag-along. Full of action, fun dialogue, and colorful characters, it's a book worth reading by any age group.

I bought this book, and therefore was not required nor asked to write a review, nor a positive one at that. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

By Grace Alone

Title: By Grace Alone
Author: Derek Prince
Labels: Christian Living
Publisher: Chosen Books (division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Recommended To: Not recommended.
Contains: Unscriptural statements.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Do you sometimes feel trapped by a set of religious rules? Does your walk with God feel more like a checklist than a relationship? Do you feel as though you don't really measure up? This book is for you.
          Trusted Bible teacher Derek Prince shows you that being a Christian is not about being perfect. In fact, he says, we can never live up to the letter of the law. It is only when we let go of our constant striving for perfection that we encounter true perfection. How can that be? This one book will help you discover what really matters and embrace the grace of a loving, compassionate God. It's time to stop striving, to walk away from the lies of legalism and to experience the freeing power of His all-encompassing grace.
By Grace Alone is a book that, from the very first page, seeks to show us how to live in grace alone, set aside from any kind of works. "The ultimate purpose of this book is for you to discover what does and does not matter in your Christian walk. I believe for each of us, this is a matter of critical importance." While some parts of this book were decently thought provoking, I was not impressed by it. I'll be the first to admit, however, that this was due to the fact that I did not agree with quite a bit of Prince's theology.

Throughout this book I found tidbits and statements that clearly showed that Prince either was not basing his theology 100% of the Scriptures, or he was failing miserably to adequately explain what he meant by such statements. The front of the book states that four different translations have been used and marked accordingly so that you know which translation is being used, and yet not once were any of the verses marked. As far as I know, NKJV is the only translation he used. Ironic really, because early on in the book he makes the statement, "This is the New King James translation, but it is not a literal translation of the Greek." The KJV and NKJV are literal translations.

In other areas he makes other statements only to contradict himself or negate his own statement later on in the book. Overall, I didn't agree with a lot of what he said, which is why I am unable to recommend this book.  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Glimpse (Zellie Wells, #1)

Title: Glimpse
Author: Stacy Wallace Benefial
Labels: Contemporary | Romance | Paranormal
Publisher: Stacy Wallace Benefial
Publication Date: April 20, 2010
Recommended To: one? :P
Contains: Profanity, inappropriateness...tsk tsk.

Buy It: AmazonKindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual. 
          As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like 35, and she is pregnant. Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.
          Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true. Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future.
I hate writing these kinds of reviews, but I'm really not sure what to say that wouldn't be negative. Which is sad, because when I picked this book up off Amazon it looked interesting and I had high hopes for it. I'm afraid this book fell short of my expectations.

One of the things I was really disappointed about was the relationship between Zellie and (oh bother, I forgot what the dude's name is :O That says a lot doesn't it :P. *goes to check*) Avery. I felt like their entire relationship is pretty much physical....oh and random "sparks" when they touch. Oh wait, touching is physical too... Basically I felt like there was no depth to their relationship at all, and their basically just interested in sneaking out to make out and oh, some other much more inappropriate stuff.

Language. *repeated head-desk* All kinds of profanity flying from the pages (or screen, depending on what you're reading on) of this book. If you're anything like me, who despises such things, this probably isn't the right book for you.

The premise of the book--chick with powers that just started and she hasn't really figured out yet--interested me, and I saw potential in it, but it fell terribly short.

I bought this book, and therefore was not required nor asked to write a review, nor a positive one at that. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary

Title: Sweet Sanctuary
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Labels: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Recommended To: Women, Adult, YA
Contains: Clean.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Lydia Eldredge longs to provide a sanctuary for her son, Nicky. But a constant threat comes from Nicky's drug-addicted father, who wants the boy and seems willing to do whatever it takes to get him.
Dr. Micah Hatcher serves the immigrant population in Queens, but under cover of darkness he provides another service that must not be discovered lest his and his brother's lives be in danger.
When Lydia and Micah's paths cross, they are suddenly wrapped up in each other's callings. Through unforeseen twists and turns, they seek a refuge of safety--for Nicky, for themselves, and for the needy people God unexpectedly puts in their lives.
Sweet Sanctuary is probably one of the most unique books I've read in a long, long time. I'm a big fan of historical fiction, and this book seemed to be placed in a time period that is not often touched on--of course, I could be wrong on that, and simply haven't run into books based on this period of time. The plot itself was an interesting mix.

The overall basis of the plot had a budding romance, smuggling scheme, psycho-father-after-his-abandoned-kid, recover and redemption, and more. Everything intertwined with each other, drawing it all into a complicated life story of the two main characters. I liked that the romance between the two had some back story to it--an interesting, unusual one at that.

Each character seemed to have its own life, its own motives for why it did the things it did. This was definitely  a one of a kind book. It's got the complete package, twisted with new motives and turns throughout it. I would definitely recommend picking it up and giving it a try. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pray the Scriptures

Title: Pray the Scriptures
Author: Kevin Johnson
Labels: DVPR | Prayer
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: June 15, 2013
Recommended To: 12yrs--Adult
Contains: N/A

Buy It: AmazonKindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Pray the Scriptures is a 40-day prayer experience for readers hoping to energize their prayer life and draw closer to God through his very word. Using familiar passages of Scripture, the author guides the reader in the process of selecting and praying back to God the words of the text as they apply to the reader's life and circumstances. "Prayer starter" phrases jump-start the participant's practice of writing and speaking Scripture prayers.
Each day's entry includes an introductory devotional, a Scripture text, and concluding thoughts and questions for reflection, discussion, and further prayer.
When I first saw this book, I wasn't one hundred percent sure if I wanted to give it a shot or not. I wasn't really sure if it was going to be one of those stilted, teach-you-how-to-pray books, or if it would end up being worth my while. In my opinion, it ended up being pretty darn good.

Each "chapter" is one day, with forty chapters in all to cover the forty days this book is meant to cover. Each chapter starts off with a brief introduction to the passage that it covers and gets you focusing on the gist of it. I was kind of torn between the passage part of it. The passages are printed right in the book, which I like for convenience sake, especially if you're traveling and just want a short devotional type book to take along with you. On the other hand, the passages were printed in several different versions, including ESV, GW, MSG, NCV, NIV, NKJV, and NLT. I understand why the Johnson did it this way--some of these different versions elaborate more or give more vivid detail. But the downside to this is the fact that I don't necessarily agree with every one of these translations, and not all of them are translated literally. If you're someone who has a problem with one or more of these translations, you may want to consider that before you pick up this book. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from looking up the passages in the version you prefer and comparing them, which is what I plan to do.

After each passage, there are a few words or half a sentence prompts to get you started thinking and praying on these Scripture passages. I thought the prompts were good--just enough to get you going, but not too much to the point where it would manipulate the direction of your own thinking one way or another. At the end of each chapter, there are three discussion type questions that further help you reflect on what you've read and prayed over during that chapter. Overall I think this is a pretty good prayer devotional.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

The Winnowing Season (Amish Vines and Orchards, #2)

Title: The Winnowing Season
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Labels: Fiction | Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Recommended To: Woman, Adult, YA
Contains: Clean.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Amazon: The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them?
          On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.
          Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally. Book 2 of the Amish Vines and Orchards series asks: can the three faithfully follow God’s leading and build a new home and orchard in Maine? Or will this new beginning lead to more ruin and heartbreak?
Well, here I am again, reading books out of order. Haha. One would think I'd learn to stop and read in order, but nope. I guess what prevents me from learning my lesson and dropping this out-of-order habit is the fact that rarely do I come across a book in a series that can't stand alone enough for me to read and understand everything. The Winnowing Season is one of those books that can stand on its own two feet (so to speak) and not lose the reader.

The Winnowing Season is a continuation of the first book in the Amish Vines and Orchards Series, A Season For Tending. The first book compliments it by giving more back story into previous events, but The Winnowing Season has its own unique and individual story line as well. This is the kind of series I like--reading all the books in order gives you a deeper and richer experience overall, but you can still pick up any one of the books and read it separately.

This is definitely one of my favorites from Cindy Woodsmall. I've read several of her books, but this one really topped the rest, at least for me. I loved the character development, the real thoughts and feelings of the characters, the unique way each handled different situations. I felt like Woodsmall really brought the characters to life. Not only that, but there was a lot more controversy in this book than I personally have found in most Amish books--which I liked. There were all kinds of situations and dilemmas that arose, threatening each character in a different way. The ending impressed me as well--it wasn't quite what you'd call your typical happy-ever-after ending, and left me wanting to get my hands on the next book to find out what happens next. Definitely recommended!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Victim of Grace

Title: Victim of Grace
Author: Robin Jones Gunn
Labels: Religion | Christian Life | Spiritual Growth
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Recommended To: Women
Contains: N/A

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Robin Jones Gunn reveals poignant truths from her life as well as from the lives of women in the Bible as she flips the notion that we are at the mercy of circumstances. She asks, what if God has dreams for you? What if he is accomplishing those dreams in the midst of shattered hopes? When life doesn't go as expected, it's easy to feel like a victim. We look at the events that have gone wrong and view our lives as impaired. What if we could see our future as God sees it? Would our view radically change if we understood we are indeed victims rather than of happenstance? God, the Relentless Lover, has vigorously sought you. He has instilled dreams in your heart that are grander than you can imagine. But the route to their fulfillment often is through a path you wouldn't seek. What if God wants to take the hopes that tug at your heart and enliven them? Are you ready to live inside the mysterious joy of being a victim of grace?
Let me just start by saying that cover to this book sis gorgeous--both online and on the physical copy. So pretty! Anyway, I enjoyed, I enjoyed reading Gunn's Victim of Grace. It's a light read, and I found myself reading through quickly while still understanding all that she was talking about.

Victim of Grace is more or less about a concept that the things that seem bad in the moment--making us a victim--may actually be setting us up to be receivers of God's grace. We often don't see this in the moment, but rather realize it later, in retrospect, and sometimes not even then. It encourages us to have a more positive outlook as we wait for God to bring us full circle.

I liked that in each chapter, after Gunn talked about a person experience of being a victim of Grace, she went on to talk about a woman of the Bible who was also a victim of grace. Not all were obvious victims of grace--some of them we flat out have felt sorry for. But for each Gunn had a point about that woman that made it clear that they were indeed victims of grace. One thing I would have liked to have seen were more personal experiences from other women other than Gunn. Not that her life story isn't interesting or inspiring; I just enjoy reading from many viewpoints on a subject such as this.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Lone Wolf

Title: Lone Wolf
Author: Jodi Picoult
Labels: Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Recommended To: YA, Adult
Contains: Foul language; 1 short, suggestive scene; topics of life and death.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: On an icy winter night, a terrible accident forces a family divided to come together and make a fateful decision. Cara, once protected by her father, Luke, is tormented by a secret that nobody knows. Her brother, Edward, has secrets of his own. He has kept them hidden, but now they may come to light, and if they do, Cara will be devastated. Their mother, Georgie, was never able to compete with her ex-husband’s obsessions, and now, his fate hangs in the balance and in the hands of her children. With conflicting motivations and emotions, what will this family decide? And will they be able to live with that decision, after the truth has been revealed? What happens when the hope that should sustain a family is the very thing tearing it apart?
Lone Wolf is probably one of the most interesting fiction book I've read. Picoult has woven a story real, living, breathing characters. I'll be honest, I didn't think one could write a book from so many different character viewpoints, all of which are written in first person. However, this book is written in at least six different character viewpoints, and not once did I get lost along the way, not once did I forget who's viewpoint I was reading. Each character has their own distinct voice, their own distinct past, their own distinct reasons for why they do what they do. The way she weaves these viewpoints is absolutely brilliant.

My favorite character viewpoint was Luke. Ironic, really, because during the greater part of the book he is in a vegetative state. Rather, intermittently he would have a short chapter, in which he would tell of some past experience with the wolves he lived with, and how the pack operated, and his own personal feelings. These intervals came perfectly, because it would set the stage for the following chapters. As you read through the book, you come to realize that the things pointed out relate very much to the motives behind the other characters actions and words, driving the plot along.

I really can't say anything about the plot itself--other than the blurb--because it is so realistic, so complex that I honestly don't know what I could say without giving away part of it. You'll just have to read it for yourself. One thing I did not like, however, was the language used. The first fifty pages or so are clean as a whistle, then as the tensions in the plot pick up, so does the foul language. I ended up keeping a thin sharpie marker with the book so that when I ran across these words I could black them out, because honestly, I would have to have to chuck the book because the plot and characters are fantastic--but I can't have myself, others, or my siblings reading that kind of garbage. Other than that, I was very happy with this book.

I bought this book, and therefore was not required to write a review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Promise Me This

Title: Promise Me This
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Labels: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: January 24, 2012
Recommended To: Historical fiction and romance readers.
Contains: Clean.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the "Titanic," nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen's relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family's New Jersey garden and landscaping business.Annie Allen doesn't care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone--like their mother and father--and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie's letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise--and find the woman he's grown to love--before she's lost forever.
Promise Me This is a book that I've been picking at for a long time. Not because it was boring--not by any means--but because the copy I have of it is an ebook and I rarely have the opportunity to read ebooks. This was probably a really good book for me to have as an ebook, however, because it was interesting and memorable enough for me to go weeks--and occasionally a month--without reading any of it and still being able to remember everything that was happening when I got an opportunity to read a few chapters.

I love historical fiction, and this book covers a time period I don't often have the chance to read. It covered the better span of two peoples lives, Annie Allen and Micheal. Despite the huge period of time covered, the book as a whole flowed nicely and kept me engaged. I loved how the plot was intricately weaved. One more than one occasion I couldn't predict the next twist, which kept me turning pages.

Overall I really enjoyed Promise Me This. This is a book I would gladly recommend. Maybe even read again in the future--though I'm unlikely to forget it's fantastic plotline. I bought this book off Amazon. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Giveaway: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wishing on Willows

Title: Wishing on Willows
Author: Katie Ganshert
Labels: Fiction | Christian | Romance
Publisher: Waterbrook Mutlnomah
Publication Date: March 19, 2013
Recommended To: Women, Ganshert fans, YA
Contains: Clean.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides. So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.
          As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own. With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.
          One of the things I remember most about Ganshert's first book, Wildflowers from Winter, was the raw emotion in it. I loved it--every minute of it. It was probably one the most emotionally engaging books I've ever read. In Wishing on Willows, we get the same moving emotion, but it was different. Refined. While the first book was raw, leaving it all out there on the floor for you to recover from for the next week, the second was refined emotion that keeps bringing you back to the thought of it.
          I liked the plot line of Wishing on Willows. While certain details reminded me of Ganshert's first book, the plot wasn't quite what I was expecting. It kept me interested, engaged, and turning pages. At the end I honestly had no idea what was going to happen, but the whole thing still moved along smoothly and naturally.
          Katie Ganshert has yet to disappoint me. Her books are full of emotion, realistic situations, and crazy twists. Oh...and her guy characters are really cute...but at the same time, very human. I look forward to ready any and all future books from this talented author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Swept Away (Trouble in Texas, #1)

Title: Swept Away
Author: Mary Connealy
Labels: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Recommended To: Women, YA, Adult
Contains: Clean. Slightly suggestive of some marital occurrences, but in a clean way.

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository | Kindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.
Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn't make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can't just abandon Ruthy, so she'll have to come along.
His friends--a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers--take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that's rather rude--he's the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.
          I'll be honest, this wasn't my favorite book that I've ever read, but it wasn't bad. For the most part it kept me engaged and interested. The characters were all unique, but at times I felt like they were kind of one dimensional. I mean, everyone had their reason for doing what they did, and an overall motive. But nothing ever really stood in the way of that one motive; nothing really challenged their way of thinking. I felt like none of the characters really had any conflicting opinions that got in the way.

          The plot was interesting, and I'll admit that there were two twists that I didn't see coming. One was good in the sense I wasn't expecting it, but even that wasn't as exciting as I would have preferred. The second twist was just plain funny. It was hilarious to read that section from a guys point of view--I got a kick out of the explanations and reasoning of the dude's head. Definitely made it worth the read.

          Overall, while it wasn't my favorite, Swept Away was a good read. It had it's corny, stilted moments, but the section of humor was all worthwhile. This is a book that definitely got better as it progressed. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clouds (Glenbrooke, #5)

Title: Clouds
Author: Robin Jones Gunn
Labels: Fiction | Contemporary
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: May 14, 2004
Recommended To: Women
Contains: Clean as a whistle.

Buy It: AmazonKindle
Blurb From Goodreads: Coming home wasn’t supposed to feel this way. After five years as a flight attendant, Shelly is home again, in a house alive with happy memories. Yet she feels strangely lost. Without direction. Alone.
          Where is Jonathan Renrield when she needs him? Jonathan, her best friend nearly all her life, her first and only love. Shelly hadn’t meant to hurt him when she left him behind to chase her dreams. And she misses him more than she’s ever admitted. When they unexpectedly meet in Germany, Shelly manages to hide her feelings from Jonathan—and his fiancée. But she can no longer hide them from herself. Will she ever be ready to tell Jonathan the truth? Will she have the chance?
          Not until a business trip takes her to charming Glenbrooke, Oregon does Shelly finally understand: only the truth can set her free. But is it too late for her and Jonathan?
         First off, I loved the names of the two main characters, Shelly and Jonathan. I don't know, maybe it's a personal thing, but to me "Shelly" just kinda rolls off the tongue in a great way. And I can't remember the last time read a book with the main character named "Jonathan," so it was a really great pick.

          I really liked the way the plot played out. I have a personal love for books that take place--or have scenes--in foreign countries, especially when they let the culture show through. The better part of this book took place in Germany. I felt like the topic was interesting and a legitimate possibility, and it was interesting to watch as the characters handled it in their own ways.

          Lastly, I loved the cover! It's beautiful on the web, and even more gorgeous on the physical book! I loved this book. It had some really cute scenes, and I loved the way it ended. Definitely recommended! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.