Friday, December 28, 2012

Soul Detox

How do I explain how I liked this book even though it was 'getting up in my business'?

I will admit that I am not perfect, but this book goes even further as it challenged me to address those issues that I may not want to admit but absolutely need to deal with.

I was most challenged by the chapter called Green With Envy.  I really did not think I had an issue with envy, but apparently I do.  "Envy is when you resent God's goodness in other people's lives and ignore God's goodness in your own life." (p. 111).  That hit a nerve, but in a good way.  I needed the tough love.

In this book, Craig Groeschel says the hard stuff we need to hear so that life does not have to be so hard.  Even though he addresses many things that are toxic to the soul, he does not leave us in pain.  He adds encouragement and strategies to help us deal with our issues.

Zondevan provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Praying Circles Around Your Children


I did not like The Circle Maker and expressed my concerns with this book in the previous review; however, I was pleasantly surprised with Praying Circles Around Your Children.

This book encourages parents to pray for their children and to never give up interceding for them.  It also encourages parents to teach children to pray for themselves and to follow God's leading in their own lives.

I also like the idea of praying God's Word over children.  It is a great way to focus prayer and to bring God's truth into prayer.

Many of the stories from The Circle Maker are repeated in Praying Circles Around Your Children.  I only noticed as I read these books back to back.  Otherwise, I did enjoy this book.

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

The Circle Maker

This book has been popular lately, and I was thankful that Zondervan sent me a copy to review.  I always need encouragement in my prayer life, and this book certainly points us in that direction.

The basis of this book is a legend about a Jewish man named Honi.  A few years B.C., Honi drew a circle and stayed in this circle praying for rain.  He intended to remain in that circle until the rain came, which it did.  The author draws a parallel from this legend that we can draw a circle around our dreams, concerns, hopes, etc. and stay there until our prayers are answered.

While reading this book I was both nodding my head in agreement and shaking my head with disagreement.  I am all for praying big prayers and trusting God for answers, yet I do not agree that "If you keep drawing prayer circles, the answer is yes" (p. 43).  Later on the author clarifies this point by stating, "No doesn't always mean no; sometimes no means not yet."  This sounds too much like a 'name it and claim' routine which the author says this book is not about, "drawing prayer circles isn't some magic trick to get what you want from God" (p. 14).  So I am confused about the purpose of a circle prayer.

I was reminded of The Prayer of Jabez while I was reading this book.  Years ago that book inspired people to pray big prayers and trust God.  Where the Jabez prayer is found in the Bible, the Honi legend is just that, a legend.  I am having a hard time with the theology of this book especially since the basis of the book is a legend, not a Biblical truth.

Suffice it to say, this book did not inspire me.  I really wanted it to, but it fell short.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action

First of all, I did not read Life Without Limits nor have I seen any of the videos from Nick Vujici.  So I really had no preconceived notions before reading this book.  I read it without any knowledge of Nick or his life story.  All I knew was from the book summary and the picture on the front cover.

Nick does share a brief summary of his life story, but mostly this book is about his life since his last book.  There are many stories about people who have inspired him as he travels the world.  The book also points to God for hope, peace, and strength.

I found the book hard to read as there was no real flow.  It was mostly just a lot of vignettes and a bunch of pep talks.  It seems that this book is the sequel for the first book, but it is not well organized.  Nick's story is still inspiring and for those who know his story, they might enjoy this book.

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Silent Night

A family trying to overcome struggle.  A sister trying to stop her rebellious ways.  An unexplained death and a missing person that has become a cold case.  There really is a lot packed into a little book including mystery, suspense, and drama.

Since the book was so short, the story line moves fast.  A lot happens in a short period of time so this book could really can be read in one sitting.  Also, I did not find this book to be just a holiday novel as the title suggests but a novel for any time of the year.

While reading this book on my Kindle, I was surprised that when the location bar at the bottom read 60%, the book was finished.  The rest of the file includes a long excerpt from Tidewater Inn.  If I was to buy this ebook, I would like to know that almost half the file was from another book.

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Stories

What a delightful book to read during the Christmas season!

This book is a compilation of stories, vignettes, and reflections from 9 other Max Lucado books.  Even though I have already read the other books, this book highlighted all the ones that surround the birth of Jesus.

Reading this book was like drinking a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day.  It is worth buying this book just so you have a reason to sit down and reflect on the true meaning of this holiday season.

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


Monday, December 17, 2012

Chew On This

It is hard to find devotionals that are good for teenagers, and this book hits the mark.   Aimed at teens who are learning to seek God on their own, this book guides the reader through meditations and reflections.

There are 31 devotions, and each devotion is just a few pages long which is good for those with a limited attention span and for those are are just starting to spend time with God.  There is room for notes and journaling inspired by the many open-ended questions.

Some of themes were quite appropriate for teens today such as dating, materialism, and forgiveness.  Other themes were not what would I have expected such as death.  In Chapter 6, "Saying Good-bye"is a mediation where the reader sees his own funeral and is guided through questions about who would be there and who would not.  It is a topic I would not have included in a book teaching teens how to have a devotional time with God.  It is why I gave the book a 3 star rating.  The idea of guided devotions is good, the execution is well-done, but the themes are mediocre.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Empty

I was thrilled when fellow Booksneeze blogger, Cherie Hill, sent me her latest book to review.  I have enjoyed reading reviews of books she has read, and now I get the chance to review her book.

The book, Empty, summarizes the deep emptiness that all humans feel.  We are empty for a reason.  If life was good and easy, we would have no need for hope, for salvation, for God.  The emptiness leads us to God who is the only one who can truly fill us.  He created us with a thirst that only He can quench.

There is a lie that we have believed, "God will never give you more than you can handle."  This is not Biblical, and the author dispells this myth by telling the truth from God's Word.  Life is hard, and we will have trouble.  That is the truth.

I am impressed with Cherie's insights.  I did not know that the longest recorded conversation of Jesus was between him and the woman at the well.  He talked with this un-named woman and promised that the water he provides ensures that she would never go thristy again.  How refreshing!  I need draw from this well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Heaven Changes Everything

This book really is a follow up to Heaven is For Real.  The parents of Colton Burpo expound upon their experiences in writing the book as well as traveling around the country speaking about Colton's trip to heaven.  Their honesty is refreshing especially from a pastor and his family.  I am glad that I am not the only one who gets mad at God.  Todd Burpo talks about railing at God while Colton was in the hospital.  Todd is saddened that Colton was able to see him from heaven; yet God was not offended.  God can handle our anger and sadness and frustration and any other emotion we feel.  He created us and those emotions.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Heaven is For Real so I was looking forward to reading this latest Burpo book.  This devotional reader has 42 chapters with each chapter containing a quote from the first book, a reflection from Todd or Sonja, a Bible verse, and a question for reflection.

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

At Every Turn

Ally Benson has a big heart and unlimited means.  As a matter of fact, she is the daughter of the richest man in town.  When she impulsively commits to a large donation in front of her church, she finds herself in a bind as her dad does not support the ministry.  So Ally tries to raise the funds on her own with the one thing she is good at...car racing.

I enjoyed the pace of the story and the character development.  The story line was never dull or boring. The book was well written and easy to read.  However, I did not like the main character.  Ally is a spoiled rich girl who justifies her actions to get what she wants.  She wants to help raise funds for missionaries, but in order to do that she lies and deceives.  Ally also flirts with 2 men and enjoys their affections even though she is not interested in marrying either of them.  After a while, I had to put the book down, because the main character really annoyed me.

The ending was satisfying even though I did not like the portrayal of the main character.  She really does not understand sacrifice and true giving.  She never really had to work for the money she raised.

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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deep & Wide

As a churched person, I never noticed what church looks like to an unchurched person.  I grew up in church.  I attended church throughout my life as an adult.  I love the church; however, this book opened my eyes to see what others see when they visit church.  I am even observing my church from a fresh perspective to see what we look like to a first time attender.

Andy Stanley is a pastor who grew up a preacher's kid, and he knows how to do church.  He also has a passion for those who do not know how to do church and tries to create an environment that is inviting to believers, unbelievers, maybe-believers, and those who just are not sure.

While I anticipated a staunchy book about church, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing.  Stanley is funny, self-depreciating, honest, and incredibly insightful.  All of this makes for an enjoyable book that made me uncomfortable at times, but in a good way.

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Lolo

Even without the propeller incident, Lauren's life story is interesting.  She is a young woman trying to make it on her own in a culture that does not encourage living the truth of God.

I am amazed that less than a year after the accident, Lauren and her family were able to reflect and write about what happened.  Most of the book is back story with the goal of helping the reader understand who Lauren was before the accident.  Even though she is still Lolo, she was honest about her journey and having to overcome severe trauma and pain as well as the loss of her left eye and left hand.

What I most appreciated about this book was the photo essay found in the second half of the book.  I found myself returning to those pictures to see Lauren's face as she talked about having to get a prosthetic eye.  I looked at Lauren doing push-ups with her prosthetic arm and marveling at how she overcame so much just to be able to do that.  Lauren truly is an amazing young woman.


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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For

In this newest edition of The Purpose Driven Life, the truth is still the same.  God loves you.  He has a plan for you.  He will finish what he started.  The good news is still the good news.

The book is updated with more content (2 additional chapters) as well as links to online content that expands the message of this book.  This would be fantastic in ebook form on a digital device where the reader could upload the videos as chapters are read.

I read the original Purpose Driven Life 10 years ago.  It was, and still is, a life-changing book.  If your life has been changed by this book, you do not need to read it again.  But since 10 years have passed, there is a whole generation of believers who may not have been transformed by this book.  This book is for them.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Soul's Gate

This book is not for the faint of heart.  It is mind-blowing and spine-tingling.  The story goes beyond the physical realm and deep into the spiritual realm.

A group of 4 people are brought together by a prophecy.  They seek to travel into each other's souls to heal wounds and set captives free.  Traveling into souls is not without danger.  Death may even occur.  However, these people take the risk to pursue freedom from the sin that so easily entangles.

I really enjoyed the truth presented in the story line.  God still speaks to us.  Miracles do happen.  We all have hidden sin or soul crushing wounds that need God's redemption.  We also need each other to stand in the gap for us and to help us when we ourselves are too weak to stand.  What is not true is this idea of jumping into another person's soul.  The writer even admits this truth in the author's note at the end of the book.  He takes artistic license to progress the story.  Knowing that soul jumping is pure fiction, I enjoyed the story even more.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fire of the Raging Dragon

Action, drama, and suspense are all part of this story.  There is political posturing, military maneuvering, and heroic undertaking.  This book reminds me of Tom Clancy novels where fiction mirrors reality in today's volatile world.

The book is about a military maneuver in the South China Sea that has the potential to start World War III.  The twist in the plot is that the president's daughter is a naval officer on one of the ships in the conflict.  The back of the book describes the dilemma faced by the president and the need to make a decision as a stand against evil.  It is reflective of the sacrifice God called Abraham to make and the willingness of a Godly man to obey.

So as I read the story, I was anticipating this moral dilemma.  However, this dilemma did not appear until 300 pages into the story.  Even then, it was only a small part of the story line.  This was more about military maneuvers and the resulting political response than it was about the decision the president had to make.  The book was not as interesting to me as it lack the personal element.  I was disappointed.  Had I been told the book was about a naval battle, I think I might have enjoyed it more.

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

If We Survive


Will Peterson is ready to head home after a week in Central America.  Along with 4 other people, he worked to rebuild a school in a small village.  While waiting for transportation to arrive, a man is murdered right in front of him, and a revolution breaks out.  Now Will and his friends have to fight to survive and hopefully, get back home.

The story was action packed with many twists and turns.  I appreciate how the story was told from Will's perspective so that the reader felt what he felt.  When Will had to shoot someone to protect his friends, he described the moral dilemma of what he did.  He admits that it was not like shooting up the enemy in a video game.  In real life, it is not fun and is eye-opening.  

My son loved the book as well as the Homelander series.  I am grateful that Andrew Klavan writes books for teen boys that are full of action without too much blood and gore.

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


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happier At Home

Even though I did not read The Happiness Project, I was still able to enjoy this book and glean a small measure of happiness for myself.

Gretchen Rubin is on a quest to go deeper in her desire for happiness.  It is neither a shallow endeavor nor one she enforces on others even within her own family.  In her understanding to be who she is, she  realizes that the only person she can change is herself (The Sixth Splendid Truth).  Therefore, she embarks on a journey to "Be Gretchen" and discover what brings happiness to her life.

I agree with most of what Gretchen shares.  She is non-threatening in her presentation offering that everyone can start their own happiness project to find what makes them happy.  This book is her way of sharing her personal happiness project.

It is good to know, before you read this book, that Gretchen was lawyer which is evident in her writing.  She is thorough in her analysis, extensive in her research, and verbose in her writing.  All in all, it was an interesting enough book with enough wisdom to encourage me to see the happy in my own life.

I received this book for free from Crown Publishing Group through WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  It is important to note that this is not a work of Christian non-fiction. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Against the Tide

Drama, intrigue, suspense, and romance are just a few of the words that describe this book.  There was just enough suspense to make me want to read more but no so much that it annoyed me if I had to put the book down.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story of historical Christian fiction which is saying a lot after reading over 80 books this year.

The story revolves around Lydia Pallas who grew up first on a boat with her parents and then in an orphanage after her parents died.  She works hard to become self-suffient with a good job, a nice place to live, and  in control of her life.  However, life is never perfectly ordered especially when Alexander Banebridge walks in the door.  He turns Lydia's life upside down, but in doing so helps her right some wrongs in her life and in others.

The salvation messages was weaved into the story line in a subtle way.  Some books are so overt in how the salvation messages is presented, but this book did it in a way that made me want to know more even though I am already a believer.

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Christmas Home

Like a tall glass of iced tea, this story is nice and sweet even if you know what to expect while enjoying it.

The story is about an animal shelter that must close due to cut-backs in the budget.  The people who work and support the shelter try to make the best of a bad situation.  The main character, Todd, does not know what he will do for employment when the shelter closes.  He has a unique diability that is not defined in the story line, but the reader understands that Todd is capable of hard work but not desk work.  His parents love him and want what's best for him even if they are not sure what that is.

For an easy read and a relaxing story over the holiday season, this book is for you.

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chase

This Bible study from Jennie Allen focuses on the life of David.  Weaving Scriptures with personal reflection, this study challenges us to chase what is true, honorable, and worthy.  The study includes readings, projects, and a video.  It allows readers to explore faith for themselves.

I was intrigued with this new study.  I have participated in  a variety Bible studies for women and have experienced many conferences for women.  I am always excited to try a new study.  This one was different, not good different and not bad different, just different.  I think Jennie Allen reaches a population of younger women that no other study reaches.  She is down to earth and honest.  She speaks to women who want to be authentic and real.  She is calming and centering.  She is not polished and perfect, yet that seems to make her more genuine.

In watching the videos, I was distracted by her hair.  I'm just being honest and real here.  First of all, I was jealous of it and how a sloppy ponytail looks so cute on her.  Then I watched her push the hair out of her eyes no less than five times in a 10 minute segment.  It really distracted me; however, I am middle-age woman who is used to polished and professional speakers.  Jennie is not polished, but that is what makes her so authentic to a younger generation of women who need someone to speak truth to them.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Undaunted: Daring To Do What God Calls You To Do

As good as a book this book is, it left me wanting more.  I was so moved by Christine's work in the anti-trafficking organization, A21, that I wanted to read more about what she does and how she does it.

The book opens with her talking with a group of girls rescued from the sex trade.  When one girl asks why she did not come sooner, Christine reflects on what brought her here.  The next 120 pages, Christine gives her back story.  There is so much to her back story, that I forgot where she was going.  In some ways, the back story was too long.  By the time, she circled back to her work with A21, the book was almost over.

Her life is interesting, and her many analogies are based on Biblical truth.  The book is just too long on back story and too short on her current mission.  Even still, her story brings hope to many.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

American Patriots

Much like Thomas Paine's pamphlet, Common Sense, Rick Santorum's American Patriots is small in size but big in ideology.  This book in not simply biographical sketch of Patriots who helped fight for liberty during the American Revolution.  This book is more of a call to action for everyone who believes that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Many of the people highlighted in this book played small roles in the Revolution.  Individually, they did small things that together made a huge difference in America's fight for freedom.  It is a reminder that even today, it is the small things that God calls us to do which may have a lasting effect on the world around us.  We are wise to reflect on the contributions of these American Patriots.  We are wiser still if we seek to be obedient to God who calls us to live in freedom.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Your Husband Isn't Telling You

Thank you, David Murrow, for telling us wives what our husbands really are thinking.  You were more than honest, sometimes too honest, but with the best of intentions.  You shed light on topics that not often discussed (temptation and sexual arousal) and often difficult to explain (why men like church but don't like to go to church).  Your book is a reminder that my husband has his own set of struggles in life.  As a wife, I can be a help or a burden to him.  This book helps me to be a help.

Mr. Murrow, you did not just tell me what my husband may be thinking, but you also gave me suggestions and advice on what to do, and what not to do.  The advice did not come right away.  You explained what my husband is thinking and feeling.  You gave me insight into his psyche.  You reminded me that my husband is a good man who is trying to love me the best that he can.  Only then did you point me in the direction of goodness and love.  

I enjoyed this book and am grateful for Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, who provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Wreath of Snow

Such a delightful novella by Liz Curtis Higgs.  If it was a cold winter day, I would make a cup of tea and a batch of shortbread (recipe included in the book) to enjoy while reading this book.

The story follows Meg as she tries to leave her childhood home on Christmas Eve.  A bad snowstorm prevents her from leaving.  This same storm delays Gordon Shaw, the same man who injured Meg's younger brother at a curling match 12 years prior.  Life is never random as Meg and Gordon learn to forgive and to seek forgiveness.

Even though the story line is predictable, it is still charming and sweet.  There is just enough suspense and romance to make it interesting.  I do like that the book is not long so you really could enjoy this book while snowed in on a bad winter day.

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


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Greater

Don't read this book if you like your comfortable middle-class life.  If you enjoy the routine of monotony, you may not want to think about how your life could be better.  If you like the same ol' same ol', you will not like the idea of God giving you something new and different.

Steven Furtrick challenges us to dream bigger and start smaller.  Sometimes God does not ask us to do more but to do less but to do it wholeheartedly.  Steven encourages us to trust God and follow Him.  God will provide, but we must be willing to sacrifice as we obey Him.

I enjoyed this book even when it made me uncomfortable.  I am the type of person who thrives in routine.  There is nothing bad about routine; however, if it keeps me from being obedient to God, then I need to be willing to let go.  

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rudy: My Story

It has been 20+ years since I saw the movie, Rudy, but the story is unforgettable.  This book relates the back story, the real story, and then the after story of the movie.

If you have seen the movie, this book is a great compliment to the story.  Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger shares what happened before he got into Notre Dame, what happened while he was there, and his life since.  Getting the movie made was as much of a dream as playing for Notre Dame, and it took longer to realize the dream of making the movie.

If you have not seen the movie, where have you been?  You need to see the movie and then read this book.  For once, I recommend seeing the movie first to better understand the book.

This book is good but falls just short of great for me.  I might be picky, but I was not satisfied with the faith element.  Rudy's life was a series of dreams that he worked hard to achieve.  Each time, it was about doing more and being more in order to reach his goal.  God was more of an afterthought.  It might be just me, but I did not feel that God was leading Rudy, but that Rudy was asking God to be with him as he worked to achieve his dreams.

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

When to Speak Up & When to Shut Up

Knowing what to say and when to say it boils down to wisdom and discernment.  Easier said than done.  This book explores the how of speaking up and when it is necessary to just shut up.  Both are important skills in life.

I never seem to have a problem speaking up, but I found from the stories in this book, that I do sometimes withhold my words when God is nudging me to speak.  Yet other times, I am silent when I should be vocal.  Dr. Sedler encourages us to listen to God and follow His lead.  There is a time for silence as much as there is a time for a word aptly spoken.

I received this book from Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review when I freely give.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tangled Ashes

The main character, Marshall Becker, travels to Europe to help renovate a French castle.  The castle itself is a character in the story and holds its own allure.  Becker, aka Beck, has his own issues with alcohol yet is able to oversee the renovation large historical buildings without fail.  As he tries, on his own, to overcome his addiction, he meets Jade, the nanny to the children of the owners of the castle.  She herself is struggling with cancer.

Also in the story is Therese, the interior designer; Jojo, the old man living in the stable, Marie and Elise, young girls living in France during the flashback part of the story; Phillip and Eva, the children of the castle owner; Fallon, the castle owner, and Sylvia, his wife; and Gary, Beck's business partner.  With such a long list of characters who each have their own issues, their story lines were hard to follow.  Even the ending does not complete the story lines of all of these characters.  It left me with wanting more while at the same time tired from reading over 300 pages to get to the end of one story line.

The reader knew from the beginning that Beck struggled with something.  It was not until halfway through the book that his back story was revealed.  Even then, it was just one incident that somehow led Beck to a lifelong addiction to alcohol.  Without giving away any more of the story, it seemed that there was more to Beck's background that pushed him to drink.  Since there were so many characters, it was difficult to really get deep into the struggles of just one character.  This could have been a 500+ page book and potentially a series.

When I get the chance to read Christian fiction, I usually enjoy myself.  However, this book was more fiction than Christian.  Beck finally reaches sobriety but not with the help of God.  At last mention, he was still agnostic in his belief.

Tyndale provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Deployed

On the good side, the story is well written.  Character development is solid.  Drama unfolds with plenty of action and suspense.

On the bad side, I have an issue with the main character, Lance Corporal Bekah Shaw.  She is a Marine reservist who is returning to action on her third deployment in as many years.  Bekah is divorced from her husband who was never fit to be married in the first place.  Bekah also must leave her young son in the care of her grandmother who also helped raise her.   Bekah struggles with leaving her son behind but is courageous enough to serve her country.  So far, the character is believable and almost admirable.  However, once she starts to see action in a war zone, the character becomes less believable.

Women in the military do not serve in combat units on the front line of battle.  Even in today's military, a women would not be a fire team leader in charge of small unit attack.  I know this because I served in the military, and my husband continues to serve.  So I take offense to a story that stretches the truth to the point of a lie.  If the main character was a man, a single dad who struggled with leaving a child behind, then this story would have been great.  But since the main character is a women, this story is just too unrealistic to be enjoyable.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grace

I have been reading Max Lucado books for 25 years.  Even since I gave my life to Christ, his books have spoken to my heart and encouraged my faith.  This latest book does not disappoint.

This book revolutionary.  I thought I understood grace.  However, I have only just begun to comprehend the immense blessing of God's grace.  Weaving every day stories with theology, Max Lucado opens our minds and our hearts to the great gift of grace.

If I was to recommend just one book everyone should read this year, it would be this book.  It is not hard to read or a long book, but the truths between the covers will stay with you long after you are done.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill

The daughters of civil rights attorney, Arthur Shores, share their story of growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, at the height of the civil rights movement.  Their story is compelling, and nothing can compare to the life they lived.  Growing up, death threats and bombs were part of their life.  Fighting for equal rights in the deep south did not happen without struggle and sacrifice.  The Shore family are the unsung heroes of the movement.

My understanding of the civil rights movement is limited to just a few highlights such as Jim Crow, Brown v. Board of Education, and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream..."  This book gave me more of the back story.  I had a hard time following some of the details as the book is not in chronological order.  However, it is not as much as a history book as it is a memoir of the Shores family.  No one should have to endure what the Shores family endured, and many people today enjoy freedoms and rights thanks to this family.

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crazy Dangerous

I have been a fan of Andrew Klaven's books not because I like to read them but because my son likes to read them.  It is hard to find decent books for a teenage boy.  It is a small market and not many authors can delve into the mind of an adolescent boy like Andrew Klavan.

This book, told from the first person perspective of Sam Hopkins, is suspenseful, dramatic, and a bit spooky.  There is an element of evil which can be scary, but there was a reason for it.  The main character is struggling to do good in the face of evil.  However, he has to break a few rules to overcome the forces of evil.  It makes you wonder if the ends justify the means.

The plot moves quickly and characters are developed as the plot develops.  The story is not predictable and had me reading quickly to find out what happens next.

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

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Men of Sunday

I was expecting a more exciting book about an exciting sport; however, this was more about the people behind the excitement and how their lives are really not much different than mine.  They struggle; they fail; they have to start over; and they are trying to honor God in all they do.  It was refreshing to read about  athletes who are not full of themselves but realize that there is someone greater.

I most connected with the chapter "Family Sacrifices."  It was the stories about the wives and loss of identity that touched me.  They had to give up careers, dreams, and hometowns to follow their husband play the sport he loves.  It is not easy, no matter how much money they make.  As you read into the book, you realize that all the money they make does not buy job security or even an easy retirement.  Football players struggle once they leave the sport, even if it is by choice.  I have a new appreciation for these athletes.

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

Friday, September 7, 2012

Be Still My Soul

Lonnie and Gideon are forced into marriage but neither of them are ready to be married.  He makes numerous mistakes, and she tries love him while trusting that God is with her.  Yet nothing seems to go the way they planned, and they must learn to forgive and trust each other.

This book was slow going for the first 200 pages.  It was not character development that was slow but story development.  The last 150 pages, the story took off but often went too fast.  The ending was satisfying because the most interesting part of the story was the last 50 pages.  I just do not enjoy having to read 300 pages to get to the good part.

This is the first book of the Cadence of Grace Series.  There are few parts of the storyline I can see continuing into more books.  If the pace of the story picks up, I think I might enjoy reading these books.

Waterbrook Multnomah provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

To Love and Cherish

I did not understand the character of Melinda.  She is a strong young women who must leave her life of affluence when her parents die.  She becomes a lady's maid and must endure the life of a servant.  She does this with courage and grace and is a model servant.  However, when she falls in love with Evan she becomes a whiny, petulant child who wants to get her way no matter what Evan says.  Even when the local pastor tries to encourage Melinda to wait and pray, she ignores his advice and continues to try to control the situation.  It was very frustrating to read as nothing seemed to change as the story line dragged on.

The first half of the book was painstakingly slow.  I almost gave up reading the book.  I had to finish reading in order to write a thorough review.  So I kept on reading.  The pace of the story line picked up, and I started to enjoy it.  The second half of the book was so much better than the first half.  I am glad I stuck with it, but I did not like having to plod through so much useless story line to get to good stuff.

In the second half the book, the story was interesting and fun to read.  There was drama, suspense, romance, and intrigue.  If I could have just read the end without having to get through the beginning, I would have enjoyed this book.

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

Monday, August 27, 2012

Undaunted

I was one of those young people who was blessed by the ministry of Josh McDowell.  It has been 20 years since I first read More Than a Carpenter, but I still use the Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument as a springboard for discussion with unbelievers.  Therefore, I was excited to read this new book by Josh McDowell and was amazed at his life story.

Josh McDowell did not have a stable upbringing.  He was not raised in the church nor taught morals and values from a young age.  He learned from the school of hard knocks, both figuratively and literally.  Yet, God had a hand on him and did not forsake him.  God pursued Josh McDowell in a way that only God can.  I am inspired by his life story and am convicted that if Josh can forgive those who wronged him, then I can do no less.

I am so grateful that Tyndale Momentum sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Reason

It was more than a thunderstorm that hit a small town in Michigan.  It was an act of God.  But it was not a lightening bolt but a person by the name of Kenneth who really shocked the people of this town.  This man touches the lives of many people including a pastor and his family and friends.  They are never the same after spending time with Kenneth, and they want to know him, and Him, more.

As I started reading this book, another book quickly came to mind.  More than 20 years ago, a book with a similar storyline was published, Joshua, A Parable for Today.  Both books bring Jesus to life in a modern day setting, and both books inspire readers to not only have faith in Jesus but have a personal relationship with Him.

Since the storyline was not new, I was not that impressed with this book.  There are parts of the story which are overly descriptive, and other parts which do not give enough description.  Overall, it was a slow read with just enough drama to make it enjoyable enough.

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

inSignificant

This is the most significant book I have read all year.  Since I read an average of 2 books a week, that it significant.

Chris Travis shares his story about teaching for 2 years in the toughest school in the country.  He was a successful pastor who made the decision to teach in the most dangerous school in New York.  It was an challenging experience in which he doubted himself and questioned his abilities.  Through this time, he discovered how the meaning in life is found in being insignificant.

I recently finished student teaching at a not so good school.  It was not nearly as bad as the one described in the book, but the experience affected my desire to teach in public school.  I totally understand Chris's perspective and found a renewed strength to do what God is leading me to do, even if it does not make sense.

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rare Earth

This book was a bit of a disappointment.  I enjoyed the action/drama plot line, and the main character reminds me of Indiana Jones as a smart hero who acts alone but uses allies to do good.

The summary of the book that is found on the back covers tells the reader that rare earth metals found in Kenya are the source of the problems.  However, this is not conveyed in the storyline until page 219.  I like suspense in a book, but the story was given away in just 2 short paragraphs on the back cover.  Even the title gives away what the story does not disclose until more than halfway through the book.  This ruined the suspense.

I also did not like the verbose descriptions the author used.  He went into too much detail throughout the book describing the settings or the mannerisms of a character.  I was getting annoyed as this overwhelming detailed bored me and prevented me from enjoying the story.

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Money Smart Family System

I was thrilled to receive this book from Thomas Nelson for review.  That is how cheap I am.  I get excited over free books.

So I thought I am frugal and keep a tight budget, but I learned so much from this book.  No matter how good you are with your money, you can always do better.  In addition to that, teaching your children how to be wise with money is an even bigger task.  I appreciate all the ideas, encouragement, strategies, and stories presented in this book.

The system the book presented is incredible.  However, the system is too detailed for my family.  If I had read this book 10 years ago, I might have implemented the Money Smart system.  Even still, there were many strategies that I will implement.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be better about how their family manages their money.

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

Monday, August 6, 2012

Short Straw Bride

No one wants to marry a groom because of chance, even if the groom is the man you have dreamed about since childhood.  Meridith Hayes has had a crush on Travis Archer since he rescued her from a trap when she was a child.  He was the man of her dreams, literally, and eventually, those dreams came true.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  The storyline was contrived, but the plot progressed smoothly with sufficient character development.  It has been a while since I really liked reading historical fiction.  This book was a breath of fresh air in my reading repertoire.

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

Friday, August 3, 2012

Perfect Lies

We all have ideas and thoughts that affect how we live, but sometimes these ideas and thoughts are a detriment.  This book identifies these thoughts as lies and what we can do to overcome them.

The author, Jennifer Crow, experienced severe health issues that could not be cured.  She was so severely unable to endure the pain, she quit all her responsibilities and took a 3 month sabbatical from life.  During that time, she realized that her life was negatively affected by the lies she was believing.  As she faced the lies and reprogrammed her mind, she realized that her health problems were the physical reaction of the lies she was believing.

I identify with many of the lies the author identified.  I have lived the lie that I am worthless and that I must prove myself because my worth depends on what I do.  I still live this lie, but the author has given me hope that I can overcome it.  

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek

I thought I would be scared reading this book about a house that may be haunted.  I do not like scary books and refuse to watch scare movies.  I do not like to dwell on things that are evil.  Instead, I was encouraged after reading this book.  It was a reminder that by the name above all names, we can have power over the dominion of darkness.

Corrie Saunders is newly widowed and returns to the hometown of her husband to restore and reside in a home inherited from his grandparents.  His cousin, Eli, is the contractor who helps Corrie restore not just the home but her faith.  Of course, there is a love story; however, neither person is looking to fall in love again.  It just happens which makes it all the more sweet.

I enjoyed reading this book more than I anticipated.  The idea that there is evil in this world is nothing new.  However, the author did not focus on the evil but instead focused on how to overcome evil.  It is a reminder for all of us.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Choice

Not since Francine Rivers' The Atonement Child has a book delved into the difficulties faced by a unwed teenage mother who decides to give up her child for adoption.

The choices we make determine the people we become.  This idea is wonderfully illustrated in this book.  The book opens with Sandy Lincoln confirming her pregnancy with her mom at the doctor's office.  The story takes off from there without slowing down or wasting a word.  This could have been a 400+ page book, and I am grateful that the author kept the book as short as he did.

The only reason why I gave this book a 4-star instead of a 5-star rating is that some of the characters were just too perfect.  Sandy's mother, for example, was an uptight Southern woman who was also kind and compassionate when Sandy discovered she was pregnant.  Only her classmates gossiped about her pregnancy, but no one was condemning or critical about her behavior.  Instead everyone was supportive, except the birth father as he did not want to give up his football career.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it.

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

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Scent of Rain

How appropriate that I finished reading this book on a nice rainy day.

Daphne is a "nose" which is to say she knows how things smell and how things should smell.  However, after being left at the altar, she loses her sense of smell which means she also may lose her job.  So she must deal with the rejection of her ex-fiance and with the problem of creating new scents without being able to smell them.

Of course, it would not be Chick Lit without romance.  Daphne's new boss, Jesse, is a widow who himself is struggling with his job and with relationships.  Mix it all up, and you have an interesting tale of love, loss, and love again.

I have read all of the books by Kristin Billerbeck, and this is by far my favorite.  Instead of the shallow and selfish heroines found in previous books, Daphne has depths and layers much like the fragrances she creates.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Guest Book

At first I was bored with this novel.  It took a while to set up the story and introduce all the characters.  There was also too much back story, and I had a hard time keeping up with it.  However, halfway through the book, the story really got interesting, and I started to enjoy reading it.   That is, until the end.  Let see if I can explain why without giving the story away.

Macy is a young woman who is trying to move on with her life but still has a few issues from her past to face.  One includes the father of her 5 year old daughter.  He reappears in her life after leaving her when the baby was born.  Another issue is the death of her father which seemed to send her entire family into a tailspin.  Finally, she wants to meet the artist who drew in a guest book at a rental at the beach, but she is not sure if she can find him.

So Macy does deal with all of these issues including a return to her faith which floundered after her father died.  While at the beach, she searches for her guest book artist and finds 3 handsome and interested me.  All 3 of these men have artistic potential, and she wonders who is the one?  Now without giving away the rest of the story, I will admit that I did not think the one who was the artist was the one the story was leading to.  I thought it would be someone else.  I was wrong, and I felt as if the author was leading to one man and then just changed who it was at the last minute.


In summary, the beginning was boring, the middle was interesting, and the end was unsatisfying, but overall it was still a good beach read.


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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Help for the Fractured Soul

There is evil in this world, and we, as Christians, need to be aware of it and learn how to help those who are hurt by it.  This book is a step in that direction.  Not everyone is equipped to help those recover from trauma; however, all Christians need to be aware of evil and compassionate toward those who suffered because of it.

Candyce Roberts has been helping people with fractured souls who have experienced deep trauma and who seek deliverance from this trauma.  She admits that she does not have all the answers; it is a long process; some people never complete the process returning to negative patterns; and often it takes many failed attempts to achieve success in recovery.  I admire her honest assessment and her encouragement that we still can help those who want the help.

I appreciate that the book does not give us a formula toward recovery.  It really is a leading of the Holy Spirit while trusting in God's grace.

Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review which I freely give.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tough Guys and Drama Queens

Some times a book comes along at just the right time that speaks truth and wisdom just when you need it most.  This is just that book for me.  I am grateful for the Booksneeze program which sent me a free copy of this book because otherwise, I would not have read this book at this time.

With a 13 year old son and a 10 year old daughter, I could not have read this book at a better time.  They are changing in unexpected ways, and I feel at a loss as a mom.  I wonder what am I suppose to do, or not do.  Mark Gregston offers sound advice and wisdom based on years of experience.  He tells us that teens today are bombarded with more information than ever before.  They are overwhelmed and feel lost.  Parents do not need to add to their burden but come alongside and help them with the burdens they must carry.

I admit that I am more authoritarian in my approach as a parent.  This book has inspired me to back-off and let the teachings of the first decade be applied in the next decade.  Even in the midst of reading, I applied some of the advice from this book and have seen a change not just in my teenage, but also in me.  I guess I am the change I want to see in my family.

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

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Coming Home

Supposedly, this book is a stand alone novel, but really it is the final installment of the 23 book series about the Baxter and Flanigan families.  It is the culmination and summation of the many stories intertwined in these books.

Some reviewers did not like the first 10 chapters which summarized the lives of the characters from the previous books.  However, I liked the refresher as I did not remember all the many details of the numerous story lines.  I needed the review and was glad for it.

What I did not like was the characterization of Candy, the birth mother of 3 of the children adopted by Sam and Erin, the youngest Baxter daughter.  Candy is a convicted felon who is released from prison after serving her time.  Erin and the rest of the Baxter family viewed Candy as evil and unfit to be a mother.  For as loving as they are to each other, they were condemning and judging of Candy.  It seems that the Baxter family is loving and kind as long as you are one of them but critical and unforgiving if you are not.  Not once did the Baxter ever pray for Candy like they prayed for each other or for those they loved.

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


Friday, July 6, 2012

Trusting God

This new Girlfriend's in God (GiG) series is light-hearted and encouraging.  Three women with different backgrounds and lots of experience share their thoughts and ideas in order to bring hope to others as we all try to know God more.

What I liked about this book is that it is not so deep that you have to really focus on what you are reading.  I wish I had this book when my children were younger because that was when I needed encouragement in small but repetitive doses.

This book is great for women who do not have a lot of time to ponder the creation of the world but still want to connect with God on a daily basis.  There is nothing wrong with short but effective devotions.  It is like having a sandwich when you do not have time for a big meal.


Waterbrook Multnomah provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.


Monday, June 25, 2012

My Stubborn Heart

This book from the genre of chick lit is actually deep as it touches on love, loss, and love again.

I do love a good book.  However, I hate it when the story drags along just to make the book longer.  The first 200 pages was nice as the story developed and character dynamics were described.  Then for the next 100 pages the story plateaued with no progression of the storyline and no character development. The last 50 pages, the storyline picked up the pace and almost sprinted to the finish.

The characters were mostly believable and the romance was nice without being overly sentimental.  The end was predictable, but there were a few surprises along the way.  This would have been a great book if it wasn't for the 100 pages in the middle where the story dragged along too slowly.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starring Me


This book was the epitome of teen check lit with too-good-to-be-true characters and a happily ever after storyline.

With so much fluff and fantasy, it was hard to relate to this story.  Chad is a teen singer after rising to fame on a reality show.  He is well-grounded and agrees with his parents' desire to pick his next female co-star.  In walks Kara who also is well-grounded and comes from a good home.  Although not a Christian like Chad, she is a good girl who just wants to make it big in show business without compromising herself.  I do like all the goodness within the story and the desire to be good.  However, this is not reality.

Surprisingly, the faith aspect of the storyline is well done.  The character of Kara struggles to first believe in God and then believing God loves her individually.  I appreciate that her struggle is weaved into the storyline and is not some forced or contrived scene within the book.  Her faith came about naturally with friends encouraging her and life challenging her.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Fourth Fisherman

I understand why the author wrote this story in parallel form.  Initially each chapter alternates between the story of the 3 fisherman and the story of the author.  Their lives are parallel which makes sense to tell the story in parallel form until their lives are intertwined.

The fisherman are lost at sea and the author is lost in his life.  Being lost is figurative for some and literal for others.  Either way, they were lost.  And being found was not the end of the story.

The story is really a story about writing this story.  If that makes sense, then read this book.  If that does not make sense, then this book is not for you.

This book is for anyone who has been or is currently lost, both figuratively or literally.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Linspired

With the height of the NBA finals going on right now, it is interesting to look back at this unusual professional basketball season which included a lock-out, a shortened season, and the rise of an unknown.  Jeremy Lin gave basketball the inspiration it needed to return to favor in the American, and world, culture.

I have been fascinated with Lin's quick rise to stardom; however, when you read this book, you learn that it was not fast at all.  He has been playing the game and working hard to make it in the NBA for many years.  He has had some setbacks and was overlooked by quite a few.  Even getting a scholarship to play basketball at a Division 1 school was not possible.  Instead, Lin went to Harvard, paid for his education with the help of supportive parents, and was instrumental in making Harvard a powerhouse in Ivy League basketball.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, not just young adults, who are interested in the real life of Jeremy Lin.  It might surprise you as it did me.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord

With encouragement and humor, Dave Stone reminds us that raising children who love the Lord is not impossible.  It is incredible.

Simply stated, children will love the Lord when parents love the Lord.  Within this book are simple ways to ensure parents are setting a good example for their children.  Investing in our children requires commitment, courage, and candor.  We have to be intentional when spend more time on hobbies than we do with our children.  We have to do the hard thing such as saying no.  We have to be honest when we fail and apologize to our children.

When we fail, which we all will, Stone reminds us that God is more concerned with direction than He is with perfection.  I so needed this reminder.

Being a parent is more than just providing food, clothing, and shelter.  It is about providing children with the foundation they need to trust in God for themselves.

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, & Laughter

Having a family who enjoys being together and gets along is not impossible.  It is incredible.

This book encourages families to be more than just busy people who do a lot without accomplishing anything real.  It is like we are running on a treadmill exerting a lot of energy but going nowhere.

One thing families can do to live intentionally is to create a family mission statement.  Much like many businesses and even churches have done, this statement describes who you are and what you want to do.  It gives directions to families who need focus in their lives.

There is nothing new in this book, but there is hope for families today to be intentional about living.  We can all use this reminder.

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Unstuck

I really liked this book because it articulated thoughts I have had but just could not define.  I have felt stuck in my faith and needed this book to help me get unstuck.

Arnie Cole and Michael Ross address the need for American Christians to quit being so nice and perfect.  We all struggle, and we all have faults.  Instead of trying to hide them or dress them up nicely, we need to face them and deal with them.  If we are comfortable, we are not truly living out our faith.  We have not just pitched a tent in our comfort zone but have built giant mcmansions to house our comfortable lifestyle.  This is not to say we need to live in tents, but we need to invest in what is really necessary and what is truly a blessing.

Too often, I read books with the 3 step plan of how to better my life.  This book in not about a formula or about rules or about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.  Instead it is about relationships and being honest and seeking real change in your life.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Truth About: The Lordship of Christ

John MacArthur does not sugarcoat the truth as he makes us all think about what it is that we truly believe.  Sometimes the truth hurts, but the truth will always set you free.

I was challenged when I read this book.  It is not that I disagree with what is said, but I realize how I do not always live the truth I believe.  Being a follower of Christ is more than just holding up your hand or walking an aisle or even having a fish sticker on your car.  It is "not easy, it is not user-friendly or seeker-sensitive; it isn't a rosy, perfect world Jesus gives you whatever you want."  After reading this I realized how often I get lazy in my spiritual walk and try to take the short-cut.

It's not easy, and it's not suppose to be.  I am grateful for John MacArthur's The Truth About series as it is a wake-up call to all of us to live what we believe and to make good on our commitment to Christ.

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Winning Balance

Shawn Johnson has lived many highs and many lows.  She has dedicated her life to gymnastics but refuses to make gymnastics her whole life.  She balances her sport and passion with her life and family.

In this book, Shawn shares her experiences with candor and courage.  In some ways, she has worked hard for her success.  Yet, in others, she has just been in the right place at the right time.  For example, a retired Chinese gymnast opened a gymnastics center right in Shawn's small Iowa town.

As a middle-aged woman reading this book, I recognize that Shawn is still young and has a lot to learn.  Some of what she shares is just part of growing up.  At one point, she misses her parents so bad she thinks about quitting, but later on, Shawn is annoyed with her mom's constant presence.  Shawn is still young and has a lot to learn.  However, she has done so much in her young life.  You can't help but like her.

As I was reading this book, I did learn that Shawn has bowed out of competing this year and will not make it to the 2012 Olympics.  But I know, Shawn will continue keep her life in balance and be an example for young girls everywhere.

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


Monday, June 4, 2012

Finding Our Way Home

This book was a leisurely summer read.  I enjoyed the character development and the progression of the storyline.

Sasha is an injured dancer who is learning to let go of her career without letting go of who she really is.  Evelyn is a young woman who does not want to let go of who she is but is learning what career she wants to pursue in life.  Together these women learn and grow and overcome their personal struggles.

What I did not like about this book was the snow globe.  It had more of a storyline than some of the minor characters.  This snow globe was portrayed with magical qualities and was called "their beloved talisman."  This just really bothered me when most of the book expressed faith and hope.  If it was not for the snow globe, this would have been a great book.



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

Saturday, June 2, 2012

To Heaven and Back

Dr. Mary C. Neal's experience is unique but not unusual.  Although many people have written about their experience of dying and returning to earth, each one is unique and worth hearing.

Mary died while on a kayaking trip in Chile but returned to earth after being told there was more for her to  do.  She shares her story with honesty and with sorrow as her story does not end with a happy ending.

Even though there were parts of Mary's story that I had a hard time understanding, I do recognize the truth of her testimony.  She, like all of us, are trying to grasp the meaning of life and God's will for us while we live here on earth. We may not get it all right, but God is a God of grace and gives us many opportunities to understand and to follow Him.

This book is similar to 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is For Real.  All of these books remind us that there really is more to this life and that we have a hope of a better place.


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


You can read more about this book and see the interview on Fox News here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Fiddler

Beverly Lewis is the gold standard in Amish fiction.  She started with The Shunning and continues to raise the bar for other books in this genre.

Amelia Devries is a world-class violinist who is so focused on her music that she has lost her way in life.  When she loses her way, literally, in a bad rainstorm, she finds herself in an Amish village.  There she realizes her need to reclaim the truth she once knew.  She also falls in love both with a young man and with a simpler life.  Amelia then has to decide what she really wants in life and how to go about doing just that.

I enjoyed reading this book and felt the calming effect of the Amish way.  I am not a world renown musician, but I am a woman who, like Amelia, can forget what is truly important in life.  This book is a gentle reminder for me and for all readers.


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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Chase

Reading a suspense novel from the perspective of an author doing research for a suspense novel adds a unique spin to this story.  The story is also based on an actual cold case solved by the FBI.

The heroine of this story, Kariss, is writing a novel and doing research while shadowing an FBI agent, Tigo.  As she does her research, she becomes the main character in her own suspenseful story. Throughout the entire book, she inserts herself into FBI business and puts herself in harms way.  Luckily, the hero of the book, Tigo, is always there to save this damsel in distress.  However, Kariss is just stubborn enough to think of herself not as a damsel in distress but a modern woman who can do anything.  That attitude keeps getting her in trouble.  There is also a romantic element as Kariss and Tigo start to see each other as more than just a nuisance.

The book was easy to read and kept my interest throughout.  There were many twists and turns, but the ending was satisfying.  I did get a little annoyed at the heroine who would not listen to wisdom and foolishly found herself on the wrong side of town, but that is how the heroine and hero start to fall in love, or at least like.  There is a sequel that will probably explore this romantic storyline.

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

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fearless

Adam Brown is an American hero!  If you want to be proud to be an American, read this book.  I can think of no better way to celebrate this holiday weekend that to remember people like Adam Brown who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

My 13 year old son read this book and said it was awesome and "the best biography I have ever read."

Check out this video, but go buy the book!

Friday, May 25, 2012

MOMumental

I am so glad this book was entitled MOMumental and not Mom-u-MENTAL!  Often that is really how I feel, but this book reminds us moms that we are not losing our minds but are doing our best to raise our children.

As I read this book, I felt all the feelings of a mom such as guilt, joy, frustration, passion, and deep love.  Often, I can run through these emotions all within an hour when I am trying to take care of my 2 little ones.  I am relieved to know that I am not alone in my many diverse feelings of being a mother.

My favorite line from this book is "use common sense when you consider duplicating something you read about in a parenting book.  Seriously."  Now stop and think about that for a minute.  This is a parenting book, and the author is telling the reader to use common sense when duplicaiton her advice.

My other favorite line is one I hope I remember when my kids are not obeying like I want.  "Perfect submission from my kids isn't my goal as a mother."  That still makes me stop and consider what I am doing as a parent and what I truly want from my children as I raise them.

I received this book from Net Gallery for free in exchange for my review which I freely give.





Thursday, May 24, 2012

Father Hunger

Even though I am not a father, I did get a lot out of this book.  It was controversial in places, but I agreed with the premise and understood the arguments presented within this book.

The fatherlessness that is rampant is America has taken its toll.  The Christian church is not immune to the problems of absent, both physically and mentally, fathers.  However, the church is somewhat ignorant of the issue, or the problem is so overwhelming that it is easier to deal with the symptoms than the root cause.  This book encourages all of us to face the root cause of fatherlessness and be proactive about helping fathers be the men they are suppose to be.

As a wife and mother, this book helped me better understand the men in my life.  I did not realize the dichotomy of masculinity.  The author states, "Masculinity thrives on the right kind of discipline, but masculinity also kicks at it.  Masculinity thrives on the right kind of work, but it also loves to be lazy." Those words were my ah-ha moment.  I get it now, and I understand why my husband and son struggle to be the men they truly want to be.

I highly recommend this book not just to men but also to everyone who wants to see our culture return to the priority of family.

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

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where Lilacs Still Bloom

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  I do not say this lightly as I read and enjoy many books.  However, this book was quite enjoyable to read.  It is one of those books begs you to find a nice comfy place to sit and read for hours on end.

The book is based on the life of Hulda Klager, a German immigrant and farm wife who does not let the lack of formal education prevent her from advancing modern science.  She loves to garden.  She is passionate about creating new breeds of plants and attempting the impossible.  With just an 8th grade education, she delves into the world of biology and becomes a humble expert in breeding and cross-breeding lilacs.

As passionate as she is about her plants, she is passionate about her family.  The story spans half a century and than many life changes Hulda and her family experiences.  The book could have been a 3 part series. Instead, the author gives us one delightful book that reminds us to stop and smell the roses, or lilacs when in season.


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

If you want to read the first chapter of this book here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

That's Why I'm Here

It is a tragedy to lose a wife and mother at such a young age to breast cancer.  Instead of living in sorrow,  Chris Spielman shares his amazing story about faith in the face of adversity.

At the beginning of the book, Chris tells the reader that his story is as much about football as it is about cancer.  He was not joking.  The first half of the book is about his football career and his wholehearted commitment to the sport.  After I while, I wondered when he would start talking about cancer and his wife's battle.  Chris does leave his football career and becomes committed to helping his wife and others battle cancer.  After finishing the book, I realize how both stories are intertwined, and you really cannot understand one without the other.

This story is inspiring.  Even though the hero is Stephanie Spielman, I really think the hero is Chris.  He endured tragedy and allowed it to deepen his faith.  He did not run away from God during trials and struggles.  Chris ran to God, and that should be an example for the rest of us to follow.

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

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Beauty Book

This companion book to Here's Lily is a great book for young girls who need to see themselves as fearfully and wonderfully made.

Often discussions about hygiene and taking care of our bodies can be difficult and often embarrassing for moms and daughters.  This book will helps daughters to learn about their body image and encourage them to honor their parents in doing so.  This book is not about getting your period or developing breasts so it is  innocent enough for 8-10 year olds.  
I do like how having a good relationship with parents is repeated throughout the book.  I also like the idea of being you-nique and having God-confidence.  This book does have a great message for young girls that runs counter culture to what the media portrays as beautiful.  

I highly recommend this book to both young girls and their mothers.  I also recommend buying this book in print form so that the reader can journal within the book which the book encourages.

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






Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Necessity of an Enemy

I was blown away by this book.  There were so many ideas that make complete sense but were a new way of thinking that I had to really stop and question what I truly believed.  It was not that what I was thinking was wrong, but that this book opened my eyes.  For example, I read that conflict is the gap between expectations and reality.  So true yet so different from how I had thought.  I saw conflict as right versus wrong.  Now I realize conflict occurs when reality does not meet expectations.

Another thing I learned is that testing is not God teaching us, but instead is God allowing us to use what we learned.  Think about it, a teacher does not teach during a test but sits back while the students show what they have learned.  In life, a time of testing is not a time of teaching but a time of applying what was learned.

I could go on about what I learned, but I would rather recommend this book to everyone so that they can learn and grow.  I will admit that I was challenged as some ideas were so new that I had to really consider if what I believed was based on tradition or on truth.  Even though it was challenging, I love it when my traditions are challenged so that I can learn the truth.  

I wish I had read this book when I first became a believer so that I would be more aware of the truth.  This truth is that believers are enemies of Satan and that he is at war with God's children.  We Christians have a target on our back and should not be surprised when attacks come.  We should be prepared which is what this book is about.

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



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chasing the Sun


Set during the War Between the States, Texas had both Union supporters and Confederate supports.  There were also quite a few Texas supports who only wanted what benefited their state.  Hannah, the heroine of the story, is just trying to survive with her 2 step-siblings.  The ranch on which they live was given to their father, a Conferderate supporter.  The previous residents were Union supporters and left to fight the war.  Hannah's father leaves to help his mother back in Vicksburg but has not been heard from since.  Instead, William Bartlett returns, the son of the previous ranch owner, to claim his family property.


Initially, the storyline was slow as the many characters were introduced.  Therefore, it took a while to understand how Hannah Dandridge can to live on a Texas ranch with her much younger step-brother and step-sister.  I almost lost interest in the book, but I continued to read so I could write a thorough review.

Once I got into the book, I enjoyed reading it, mostly.  Some parts of the story annoyed me.  I did not like how clueless Hannah was in her dealings with Herbert Lockhart, her father's business partner.  She also seemed naive about how her family came to live on the ranch.  She is strong woman who came from a privileged upbringing and became a hard-working ranch woman.  Yet, the story does not talk about the transformation.  There is only a nod to how she was once privileged and now must take care of her family and land.

The story ends nicely with all loose ends tied up.  It was neither surprising nor upsetting.

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Here's Lily


I was pleasantly surprised when I finished reading this charming little book.  I had high expectations at the beginning.  In the middle, I was slightly annoyed at some of the characters and their behavior.  By the end, these characters redeemed themselves.  All in all, it was a nice little story.

I requested this book to review from Thomas Nelson so that my 10 year old daughter could read it, too.   Lily is a young girl who does not realize the beauty that is within her.  As she goes through modeling classes, she learns how to be beautiful but loses her focus on where that beauty comes from.  After an accident that wounds her face, she learns where that beauty comes from.  She develops not self-confidence but God-confidence.

Why I was getting annoyed was that Lily's was often teased by her whole family.  The accident opened their eyes to their negative behavior, and even her mom apologized and promised to change.  I was relieved at this point in the book because I thought the author was making this pattern of behavior normal and acceptable.  While teasing is normal in a family, including mine, the author uses teasing as part of the storyline to help the family change.

My favorite line that I hope I remember is "When you're not thinking so much about yourself, you tend to move more gracefully.  It's self-consciousness that makes us trip over things."  So true!  I am glad to share this book with my daughter.

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

Friday, May 4, 2012

Momaholic: Crazy Confessions of a Helicopter Parent

I was gladly mistaken when I read this book.  I thought it would be a tongue-in-chin book about a mom who made many mistakes as a parent and learned to laugh about it.  It is that but so much more. It is a story about a woman who has it all and still does not always have it all together.

Dena Higley has a life most women dream of.  She is a successful writer for TV; she has 4 children (2 biological and 2 adopted); she missed only 1 choir performance when she was traveling with her job; and she is happily married for 25+ years.  She has the perfect life.  She has the life I wish I had.  She has it all; great job, great family, great faith.  So why does she down a bottle of vodka and end up in the ER?  Why, indeed!

As Dena shares her ups and her many downs, I realize that having it all does not make life easier or more fulfilling.  No matter the social class, financial status, or family make-up, being a mom is hard.  We are all a work in progress.  Admitting the true of our struggle frees us to be better moms.  Not moms who do more but moms who try, make mistakes, get back up, and try again.

My favorite line is one that I have thought many times, "It still amazes me that I can be right so many times with my kids and they still treat me like I don't know what the heck I am talking about."  I laughed that she actually said this, yet I felt a sense of relief that I was not the only one who felt this way.

There is some mention of faith and prayer, yet Dena does not talk much about it.  I wish more time and space was given to her faith.

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wait No More

The Rosati family began looking into adoption after they submitted to God their desrie for a family.  They were not successful at getting pregnant and just made their hearts open to God's leading.  Each time they waited on the Lord, God come through in a big way.  


As someone considering adoption, I enjoyed reading this family's experience with adopting 4 children.  What I most appreciated was the honesty with which they share their story.  It was not an easy process or even a simple process.  It was frustrating and heartbreaking as well as rewarding and amazing.  Yet, they would do it all over again in a heartbeat.


I am grateful for the Rosati's experience and that they were willing to share their story.  It has encouraged me as I pray for the Lord's leading for my family.


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