Friday, September 30, 2011

Seven Days in Utopia

I was not able to see this movie as it was not in my local theater, but I was glad to read the book. In my experience, the book is better than the movie.

The story is about a young golfer who loses his game. After a not-so-accidental meeting, he learns what his game was missing and how to play again. The lessons he learned were more than just to improve his golf game but how to have a better life. These lessons are true for all of us which is why this book is inspirational.

Even though the story is based on a real life, it is not a true story. It is a fictionalized account of what could happen when life and circumstances collide to bring a new awareness. That being said, it is a nice story. The story is more than just a book or a movie. There is a website which provides even more encouragement towards a life altering experience of your own.

Zondervan has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Crossing

A 10 year old murder that was never solved. A woman who died before she could confess the truth of her affair. Her best friend who mourned the loss without knowing the whole truth. A man who could have been an NFL quarterback but endured a career ending injury. Their stories collide, and the truth comes out.

Disjointed. That is the word that came to mind when I finished reading this book today. The story was interesting, and I did not want to put the book down. I was surprised by the ending when I found out who done it. However, it was not a pleasant surprise. Instead, I was confused at to why this person did it. It was character thrown into the story in the last 50 pages. This character was related to other characters throughout the book but not introduced until toward the end. The story did not develop this character enough to truly understand the motivation behind the act of murder.

As far as the rest of the character development, I was dissatisfied how some characters resolved their issues and were a better person by the end of the story while others never resolved their issues. These characters were just as bad, if not worse, by the end of the book.

I understood that this book was based on a murder investigation, so I anticipated some gory details. What I did not anticipate was the amount of sexual passion including many sinful relationships throughout the story. I am no prude, but there was more description of the sexual attraction than of the true repentance of a sinful relationship.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thank You, God, For Blessing Me

What a delightful little book! Little Hermie is just right for young children. The book is short enough to keep their attention but cute enough to capture their hearts. The short prayer is written in rhyme so it is pleasing for little children to quietly listen to.

Little Hermie is thanking God for His many blessings. Hermie thanks God for leaves to sleep on, for friends and family, for food and playtime, and for blessing me.

What I liked about the book was that it was easy to read and sounds nice when read out loud. I wish the book was longer; however, I remember when my little ones were little and their attention span was very short.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Baker's Wife

When I start a new book, I read for understanding. I try to understand who the characters are and what their motivations are. Throughout the book, I question what will happen next or why a character was motivated to act a certain way. By the end of the book my questions are answered and my understanding of the story is complete. This was not true for The Baker's Wife. The end of the story left me with more questions than at the beginning. I am still trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did.

Audrey was once the pastor's wife, but after a falling out with a church elder, she is now the baker's wife. The elder and his family are struggling as is the pastor and his family, but the difference is in their faith. One family is trying to be right while the other is trying to do right. The reader is left trying to figure out who is doing what's right and who is trying to just be right.

The book was a suspense/drama with a little mystery. I wish I understood better why some of the characters never really changed by the end of the story. Still others characters did change, but I was not given enough information as to the character development to truly understand why. I just felt like there were holes throughout the story and the ending had too many loopholes.

Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A River to Cross

I have never read a book from the "Texas Adventure and Romance" genre, and I rarely read historical fiction. However, I read this book and enjoyed it very much.

Elizabeth Evans travels to El Paso/Fort Bliss to help her widowed brother but quickly finds herself in the middle of an international event. Ranger Jake Nelson comes to her aid and quickly they fall in love. The problem is that both Elizabeth and Jake have loved and lost before and do not want to love and lose again.

I did enjoy reading this book. There was enough action and drama to keep it from being too sappy with the romance. Sometimes the action was too much as I wondered how many more incidents could Elizabeth and Jake find themselves. Kidnapping, border crossing, and near drownings were just a few of this action packed incidents. There seemed to be no end to the adrenaline rush for the characters or even time to grieve from tragic events.

Bethany House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I freely give.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story

What a great story! I had never heard of Ed Thomas before reading this book, but I am glad I know him now. What an amazing man who left an amazing legacy.

Coach Thomas was an inspiring high school football coach who developed a winning program at a small high school in Iowa. His goal was not to win games but to make a difference in the lives of the athletes he coached telling his players "If all I have taught you is how to block and tackle, then I have failed you as a coach."

When his town was hit by a tornado, Coach Thomas was the driving force behind the rebuilding efforts. He promised to have the football field ready to play the first home game 105 days after the tornado hit. The field was ready, and the team went on to a winning season. Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. A year later, tragedy hit the town again when Coach Thomas was murdered by a former player. His legacy lives on in the lives of many including his family, his friends, and the many players who were lucky enough to call him Coach.

Ed Thomas lived by the words, "take pride in what you do." I am impressed that he was the maintenance staff for his football field dubbed the Sacred Acre. He seeded it, mowed it, line it, and on the morning after a game, he was there filling in the divots. He was the coach who spent Friday night after the big game washing the team uniforms, taking the time to scrub out the grass stains.

I am so grateful for the Thomas family for sharing this story with us. I look forward to sharing this book with my own family with the hope that we take to heart Coach Thomas's words "take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves."

Zondervan had provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Night Night Blessings

This story would make a delightful bedtime book for young children. The prose is simple and the illustrations are charming.

The young child in the story prays in thankfulness before going to bed. She thanks God for her family, her toys, her kitty and puppy, her bubble bath with snorkel mask, and her parents' putting her to bed. It is a great example of how to honestly pray with the understanding that God cares for all the details of our lives.

I will forewarn parents that they might have read and reread this book multiple times. The good thing is that the book is written in rhyme so it is easy enough to read and memorize after the tenth reading.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gabby, God's Little Angel

The angels are a cute bunch of child-like creatures who are still learning how to be angels. In this story, Gabby is given the assignment of being the guardian angel of Sophie, a young girl here on earth. Both Gabby and Sophie are lovable and adorable as well as flighty and clumsy. This combination makes for a charming story of Gabby trying to stay out of trouble while trying to keep Sophie out of trouble.

The truth of the story is from Psalm 91:11, "For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." (NIV). This is a good book to begin teaching young children the truth of God's Word. It is a springboard to the understanding of what angels are and how God uses these "mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word" (Psalm 103:20, NIV). My only concern is that the Bible does not portray angels as young and childlike. After studying the Word, I now see angels are strong, fierce warriors and not flighty little cherubs. I would hope that this book is used to share God's love with young children but not doctrinal truth.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pattern of Wounds

Much like an episode of CSI, this book follows the murder investigation of homicide detective Roland March. There are a lot of clues throughout the storyline leading March to the suspect but only after more victims pile up including an attempt on someone close to him.

I had a hard time following the story. First of all, I did not read Back on Murder, the first book in the Roland March series. Secondly, there are many rabbit trails throughout the book that did not lead to the suspect. I know that makes the story realistic, but it frustrated me as a reader. I also got frustrated with odd details in the story like the fact that March wears hand-me-down clothes from his deceased father-in-law. Another odd detail is that his wife is very understanding of his late hours and nights away. For all the details given to the character development of March, his wife seems bland and one dimensional.

I was not a fan of this book, but I know that many mystery/suspense readers will enjoy it. I like to read books to give my mind a break. This book made me work hard to follow the story. If you like Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds, and Bones, then you will like this book

Bethany House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hermie, A Common Caterpillar

I love Hermie! I just wish my children were younger so I could enjoy him even more. In books and in DVDs, Hermie reminds children that they are God's special creation. Max Lucado's books for young children are as delightful and inspiring as his books for adults.

Hermie and his friend Wormie are just ordinary caterpillars who discover that with God, they are not so ordinary. God tells them, "Don't worry. I love you both just the way you are, but I'm not finished with you yet." God will make the ordinary extraordinary. This is a great truth for God's children young and old.

This book is a republished book from 2002; however, in republishing the story, this book is now an easy reader so children can read this book on their own. I can see children reading and rereading this book developing their literacy skills.

Thomas Nelson has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.