Saturday, March 31, 2012

Eyes of Justice

I was so excited to read this latest book in the Triple Threat series, and Lis Wiehl does not disappoint!

Once again Cassidy, Nicole, and Allison find themselves in the middle of a murder investigation, but this one hits close to home, literally. If I say any more about the storyline, I will give away the secret. The ladies must find the killer before he kills again. With smart thinking, tough work, and persistence, they discover who done it. As with the other books in this series, there is drama, suspense, and intrigue.

I was at the edge of my seat as I read. There was never a good place to stop and put the book down. I really just wanted to sit all day and read the book. Luckily, it was a rainy weekend, so I was able to finish the book without feeling guilty.

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Need You Now

Whew! I just finished Need You Now, and it was like riding a roller coaster. There is drama, suspense, tragedy, and triumph.

The Henderson family relocates to a small town in Texas. They left Houston in hopes of getting their 3 children away from negative influences; however, the drama does not go away quietly as they settle in Round Top, Texas. Darlene, the mother, is struggling to find herself as her children need her less and she still has a lot to give. Brad, the father, is working overtime to make partner and wonders if his hard work will really pay-off. Chad, the eldest son, left drama behind in Houston but is still faces temptation in Round Top. Grace, the middle daughter, is the perfect child as she hides her true feelings and is overwhelmed with keeping up appearances. Ansley, the youngest daughter, is the only member of the family without drama. Also, the family is surprised to find out their next door neighbor was a Hollywood movie star was drama of her own.

It took 100 pages for all these characters to be introduced and all these story lines to be developed. Initially the book was slow as the author was laying the groundwork for all these characters and their respective issues. Then in the last 100 pages, the story was fast-paced as the issues were brought to light and characters had a change of heart or realization about their issues. It was a slow build up and then a fast ride to the end, like a roller coaster.

I am surprised that this book is only 250 pages long. It could have been so much longer. There were a few issues that were never really resolved by the end of the book. The character of Ansley was never developed, and she could have easily been left out of the story altogether. Chad's history in Houston was never fully revealed. I could foresee the author adding another book to this series, either as a prequel or a sequel.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Downfall

I have yet to read a Terri Blackstock novel that I did not like. Whenever I get my hands on a new book, I know I am in for a treat. In this latest story, there is drama, suspense, struggle, and triumph.

Emily Covington is a recovering drug addict trying to have a normal life. She knows that addiction recovery is not a walk in the park; however, she is challenged in ways she never anticipated. Her whole family is challenged in ways they never anticipated. All of them are forced into situations where they have to choose between right and wrong, yet sometimes it is not obvious what is right and what is wrong. From start to finish, the characters must react to situations and make tough decisions. At times, I thought, "No, don't do it!" but the characters made their decisions and had to face the consequences. Somehow, it all works out in the end, but you still need to read the book to find out how it happens.

Downfall is the third book in a 3 book series about the Covington family with Intervention and Viscous Cycle being the first 2 books in the series. Of the 3 books in the series, this was my least favorite, but I am glad I read it as it ends the series. The book was fast-paced and an easy read.

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blue Moon Bay

The story opens with Heather Hampton, successful Seattle architect, on the verge of her biggest career move yet. The entire deal hinges on the sale of her family's property in Texas. This is the place she experienced tragedy and depression and wanted nothing more to leave the past behind. In this deal she hoped to erase the past and forget the memories of her home. Instead she has to face the past to deal with the present. This past includes the mystery of how her father died in a place she never wanted to live. Heather tries to solve this mystery but only uncovers more secrets instead of answers.

I got frustrated reading this book as the secrets continued to build instead of being revealed. I read page after page waiting for the truth to be revealed. It took 300 pages before the truth started to come out. Once the mystery was solved, everything unraveled quickly. It was almost too quickly for as slow as the book started.

I did like one line toward the end of the book, "The great leaps in life are not made in the absence of fear but in the presence of faith." There were some good parts to the story, but overall the book was not satisfying.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Angels Are for Real

I have always believed in angels but was encouraged by this book. It provides a great Biblical basis for angels, and it gives many real life stories of encounters with angels.

Some of the Bible stories quoted within the book challenged what I had previously believed. I had to pull out my Bible and check for myself the stories that were referenced. I had to rethink what I thought I knew. What I thought I knew was wrong. I love a book that gets me thinking and challenges me spiritually. For that reason alone, I recommend this book.

I appreciated the chapter on fallen angels (chapter 8). I also appreciated that it was at the end of the book so that the foundation of angels and God's provision was laid before approaching the idea of fallen angels doing evil in this world. Much discernment was taken in this chapter as to not scare the reader but make the reader aware of evil and fallen angels.

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What's Next

Being proactive when facing mid-life is as necessary as being proactive when you are starting out in life. That is the message of this book. We take the time to pray and consider our choices of education, employment, marriage, and parenting. However, most people do not pray and consider their choices of retirement, empty nest, and commitment to marriage. This book challenges the reader to be as prepared for the second half of life as you are for the first.

The audience is married people over the age of 50. There is an assumption that the reader is also a parent. Most of the advice is for those who are facing many normal mid-life decisions. Many "what ifs" are considered. Sometimes, it was too much hypothetical thinking, but in doing so the author is encouraging the reader to be prepared for the many opportunities and big decisions poeple face later in life.

I recommend this book to anyone over 50 who want to make the most out of the life instead of sitting around watching the world go by.

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beyond the Farthest Star

This book could have been so much longer. Instead it was a fast-paced story that was a quick weekend read.

The story is about a family that has relocated to a small town in Texas in order to rebuild their life together. The storyline contains many familiar elements such as unmet desires, rebellion, family struggles, and political maneuvering. As the book opens, you know that the dad, Adam, is in the hospital in a coma and the daughter, Anne, is struggling to have hope in a desperate situation. The book then continues to flashback to what brought them there.

As soon as you start reading, you realize there are some family secrets that are being swept under the rug. SPOILER ALERT: Many secrets remain at the end of the book. I thought the book would reveal the truth about the family's past. Instead, there is a hint at what might have happened, but you never really find out what all the issues were and how they are all resolved.

I thought the book could have been twice as long with more character development and more understanding about the family's past. I am glad that the authors did not belabor the point; however, I finished the book wondering what happened? The ending came so fast without bringing closure to all the many story lines in the book. Maybe there will be a sequel?

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

Monday, March 5, 2012

God Loves Broken People


I had mixed feelings about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Sheila Walsh speak at a recent Women of Faith conference so I was excited to read her latest book. As I read this book, I could hear her speak the words with her Scottish accent and the delightful lilt of her voice. She is a wise woman who is not afraid to speak the truth, God's truth.

What I did not like about the book was that it was not clear and concise in its message. I had a hard time following the author's train of thought. She quoted many Bible stories as well as other works as it applied to her story, but it was just too many. We read about Ruth and Moses and Paul and Jesus. Then there are stories from John Piper, C.S. Lewis, Corrie Ten Boom, Dr. Henry Cloud, Steve Brown, and Brennan Manning, and that was in just the first half of the book. It was just too much. The book was too chaotic and hard to follow. In her defense, the author stated in the introduction that as much as she invested in the beliefs she writes in this book, it is not "buttoned-down and tidy." So I have to admit that I was forewarned.

There were some great passages about living through trials; about God's fierce love; and about choosing how you respond to suffering. I did like bits and pieces of this book, but as a whole, it was not what I had hoped.

There were a few typos and grammatical errors that struck me as odd. Usually Thomas Nelson books lack editing problems. There is also the misnomer that the Lance Armstrong armbands say "Just Do It" when in fact, the slogan is "Livestrong." I would have assumed an editor would catch this mistake.

I did not dislike this book, but I did not like it either.

Maybe if I had read this book in the midst of depression or trial, it probably could have encouraged me. I still believe Sheila Walsh is a wise woman and a great speaker even though this book seemed as broken as the title.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Miracle for Jen

I was blessed with the opportunity to read Miracle for Jen. I thought I would be reading an inspirational story about a young girl named Jen Barrick who recovered from a horrible car accident by praising God in her circumstances. The book was what I expected, yet it was so much more.

The part of the story that most touched my heart was how Jen’s mom Linda faced these trials and dealt with these struggles. I appreciated the honest story of how it was not always easy or even manageable. It was often overwhelming and beyond manageable. Linda herself was injured and wheelchair bound for a long time and had to deal with her own pain both physical and emotional. I am inspired by Linda’s journey as much as I am by Jen’s. It was Jen who journaled just 4 days before the accident, “We all want the testimony, but we’d rather skip the test that gives us one.”

Tyndale House provided a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. Click here to view the book trailer.