Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#struggles

We are connected like never before with social media and cell phones.  There is exponentially more information available at your finger tips than an encyclopedia that covers multiple bookshelves.  However, with all this information and the ability of instantaneous connection, we are more lonely and isolated than ever.

This book addresses these issues and provides the most obvious solution.  We are created to be in relationship with each other and with God.  We must cultivate those relationships in order to be truly content.  Our eyes must be fixed on Christ, not on a small screen.

This quote will be with me for a long time, "When you think about it, no one stumbles into righteousness.  People fall into sin every day.  But no one just falls into holiness.  It requires making deliberate, prayerful choices and walking an intentional path."

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tough as They Come

SSG Travis Mills is more than just tough.  He not only served in the U.S. Army doing 3 tours in combat, but he also survived quadruple amputee injuries.  His story is inspiring.

As I read this book, I tough it would be about his recovery from his injuries.  The last third of the book is; however, the book is more about his time in service.  As a veteran myself, I am interested in what he did while he served.  I knew he recovered from his injuries; hence he wrote this book.  I am intrigued with his life story and his attitude as a combat veteran.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. For more info on the author visit this website.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

On This Foundation

Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the king and is content to serve him.  But when a visit from his brother sheds light on the disrepair of Jerusalem, Nehemiah is heartbroken and seeks God's guidance.  The Lord leads him back to his homeland to lead the rebuilding of the city walls.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book of historical fiction.  The author stayed true to the Biblical story and only added fictionalization to shed light on what the people might have felt or thought.

Even though I did not read the first 2 books in The Restoration Chronicles, I did not struggle to follow the storyline.  I now would like to read the previous books as this book was well written and enjoyable to read.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kill the Silence

Rape is horrific and terrible.  No one should ever suffer in silence.  Thanks to Monika Korra, no one has to suffer in silence.  Her goal is to kill the silence for those who have been raped or sexually abused.

The writing of the book is not amazing but is impressive considering English is not Monika's first language.  The fact that she remembers so much from events from months ago is amazing.  She describes not just the rape but the aftermath and the repercussions in great detail.  She shares what many are not able to even put into words.


It took a lot of courage and strength for Monika to survive a senseless act but she found a way to rise about it and do some good.  

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  See more here.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Miracle at the High Grounds Cafe

I have Max Lucado books for years, but this is the first foray into fiction for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Max has always been able to weave God's truth into stories that touch the heart.

The story is about a woman who is trying to open a new business and start a new life with her 2 children.  She is not divorced yet, but she is also not living with her professional football playing husband.  If that doesn't open the door to a miracle of God, I don't know what will.

The story continues with some interesting and inspiring twists and turns.  I don't want to give it all away since it is not along book, but it is an enjoyable story.  It is not a heavy read, but it is filled with deep truths about God's love and grace.

Thomas Nelson provided me with a free copy of this book which I freely give.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Carols of Christmas

I love a good Christmas carol so I was excited to read this book.  The stories behind the carols are interesting and the author definitely did his research.  Unfortunately, all the research and music history was lost on me.

Since I am not musically inclined, I did not understand most of the musical jargon.  I don't what it means to "play the euphonium in procession" or what a "musical antiquarianism" is.  So I struggled to read the in-depth history of these 21 carols.

This book is well written and well researched.  I just lack the musical intelligence to truly appreciate the stories.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The First Family Detail

This was a fascinating portrait of what the Secret Service does to protect the president and family.  With  much research, the author reveals secrets and scandals from the last 50 years.  

Ronald Kessler describes a culture of mistakes and overstight.  While I agree that the Secret Service is asked to do more with less, I don't understand why no one wants to fix it.  It seems the higher ups are just climbing the career ladder while the footsoldiers are carrying the burden of protecting the president.  Without good leadership, the climate fails, and that seems to be what is happening in D.C.  

If you want to believe everything you read, don't read this book.  I am sure the author did much research; however, there were a few details that I question.  Even so, if only half of this is true, the Secret Service is struggling to do its job with integrity and strength.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Learning to Breathe Fire

I do not do Cross Fit, but I do know many who do.  Because of their fitness success, I was intrigued by this book.  What is it about Cross Fit that makes people do more than they ever thought possible?

The book starts at the very begginning.  It is a good history lesson about the origins of what is now Cross Fit and the people who made it happen.  It helped me understand why boxes are so small and monthly payments are so high.  It makes sense now.

The book then went into the history of the Cross Fit games.  The second half of the book spent a lot of time on the games.  Since I do not do Cross Fit or follow any of these athletes, the book got tedious.  I powered through the chapters (much like you do in a WOD), and finished the book.

So I did learn about Cross Fit and why it is so successful.  It is more than just a work-out or just a gym. It's a community.  I might even be a cult.  But it does improve the health and well-being of its participants.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  For more info click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Plain Choice

I was fascinated with a story about someone becoming Amish instead of someone leaving the Amish community.  It was role reversal.  Initially, I enjoyed reading about Sherry Gore conversion from living as an Englisher to becoming Amish.

As I was reading, I expected the author to share her spiritual awakening.  Sherry does get baptized and has a heartfelt conversion to her faith.  However, she believes in the maxim "God does for those who do for themselves".  This really bothered me because many people think this is a Biblical passage, but it is not.  It is also not based on the teachings of the Bible.  It is a man-made, man enforced phrase.  

I also did not understand why Sherry continued to move around and piecemeal her belief system based on her life experiences, instead of the Bible.  I struggled to even understand why she became Amish.

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Center of Gravity

What seemed like the perfect life really wasn't.  Ava is a newlywed wife with 2 young children who she adores and would die for.  The problem is that she just might have to.  I can't say anymore without giving away the story.

In order for a work of fiction to be good, it has to be plausible.  A wife who finds out her husband has been keeping secrets is plausible.  A man who has mental issues is plausible.  An 8 year old son with such depth of thought, is not plausible.  I liked how the story was told through the eyes of each of these characters, but I did not find the age of the son to be realistic.  The story would work just fine if he was 13 or even 12 years old.  But 8 years old was just too outlandish for this story to seem plausible.

Other than that issue, the book was full of suspense.  There were a few hints dropped throughout the story to keep it interesting, but the reader did not know how it would end.  It really was a surprise.

I also want to let the reader know that although this book is from a Christian publisher, Christ is nowhere to be found in the story.  However, there is no sex or excessive violence.   If it was a movie, it would probably be given a PG-13 rating for adult themes.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Diary of a Jackwagon

Tim Hawkins is hilarious!  He writes like he talks, and what he says is so funny.

Hawkins is not derogatory, negative, or mean-spirited.  He just notices the funny things in life like when you mom says, "Careful!" after you hit your head.  Or when you are finally old enough to eat whatever you want, but you can't because now your body can't handle the fat and carbs.

This book is bits from his stand-up act.  If you have not seen him perform, you should.  I laugh so hard I cried.  And we need more comedy like this.

The book is worth it just for the list of Christian cuss words.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Glimpses of God's Grace

I was interested in reading this book as I spent time in the military and at the military academy.  Some of our experiences were the same and some were totally different.

LTC Jones tells his life story from a kid growing up as a military brat; to an officer himself; to retirement and employment after retiring from the military; and then to a debilitating stroke.  It is an interesting life filled with God's grace.  I like how in his reflections he see the hand of God upon his life.  It really was a blessing.

The author warns that the book was self-edited, and there were a few mistakes.  Then again, he wrote the book after his stroke and only being able to type with one finger.  So it makes sense.

WestBow press provided me a free book through the Booklook Blogger website in exchange for this review which I freely give.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Best the Best Mom You Can Be

When I get to read books like this, I expect a step by step guide on how to be a better mother.  Instead it was full of wisdom and grace to help all moms BE more instead of DO more.

What I learned from reading this book that it's more about communicating with your children than it is about lecturing.  It's a dialogue, not a monologue.  I need to read this as I often tell my children what they should be doing instead of talking to them about their behavior and finding out why they did what they did.  Then a discussion can ensue to determine how to do better next time.

I also learned that when (not if) children make mistakes, make bad decisions, and sin, it's up to the parent to extend grace and forgiveness as well as discipline and consequence.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Jesus Was an Airborne Ranger

As both a Chaplain and a Ranger, John McDougall has great insights in how serving the Lord is much like serving in the armed forces.  He uses real life examples to illustrate how Jesus was more than just a Savior.  Jesus was a leader, a commander, a Ranger.

I was inspired in reading this book.  I realize that I can do more than just sit back and watch others fulfill God's will.  I, too, can follow Him and be like Him.  He has given us His orders in the Bible, and we can serve a great commander. 

Any soldier, whether they be a U.S. soldier or a soldier in the Army of the Lord, will gleam useful and encouraging information from this book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God

I have only seen a few episodes of Duck Dynasty, but I do like the Robertson family and the values they uphold.   I was impressed by the honesty of Jep and Jessica Robertson as they shared their life story. 

For all the success of the Robertson family, they have had their fair share of hardships and struggles.  Jep and Jessica share their struggles and are honest about what they have done in their lives.  It wasn't always easy, but they learned to be honest with each other and to extend grace and forgiveness.  I think we could all learn from them.  

The book is written from both perspectives.  Jep writes a chapter and Jessica writes the next.  Their story is interwoven in the second half of the book so it is interesting to see each side of the story.  They write like they talk, and you can hear their voice. 

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Detained

Hasan and his son, Najib, love America,  and they celebrate the ideals of freedom and patriotism.  There allegiance is called into question when they are incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.  Navy JAG sends Matt Davis is to defend them.  He is willing to sacrifice his career for them even with his secret girlfriend is on the prosecuting team.  It's a secret because she outranks him.  In addition to all this, the director of Homeland Security is corrupt and trying to overtake the entire government.  He gets away with it for a while, but soon the truth is revealed.

I like a good suspense novel and enjoy the military aspect.  This book fit the bill, but it was slow to start.  The first half of the book lays the groundwork for the story line.  There are too many characters to introduce and too many plot lines to develop.  So it took a while for the story to real get going.  Once it did, it moved fast, too fast.  Since this is the first book in the Navy JAG series, the groundwork was necessary, but it was still tedious to read.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Until the Harvest

Henry is a young man trying to figure out his life after his father suddenly dies.  Margaret is a young woman just trying to figure out her life.  They are surrounded by caring friends and family who help them see and reach their potential and even their affection for each other.

I did not realize that this book takes place in the same town from Miracle in the Dry Season.  The author interweaves some of the same characters, but the books can be read independently and out of order.  It was just nice to be back in the lovely town of Wise, West Virgina.

Being from West Virginia, I appreciate the truth of character.  No one was a complete redneck; however, the poor and the privileged and everyone in between were represented.

This was a nice summer read.  It was not fantastic or horrible.  Instead is was a good book to read in my  spare time.

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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Acing the ACT

I never took the ACT, just the SAT, but my teenage children will be taking their college preparatory tests soon.  So I was interested in reading the strategies presented in this book.

Although a small book, it is loaded with tips and tricks.  The author truly wants to help students navigate some of the more challenging questions and simplyfies the process of how to solve some of the more challenging questions.  I learned a lot from this book, and I will be passing on the information to others.

I can foresee this book helping anyone do better on the ACT.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Soul Friends

It took more over a monthfor me to finish reading this book.  I wanted to like it and have enjoyed previous material from Dr. Parrott; however, this book was hard to read and not at all what I expected.

With 34 chapters in 215 pages, I thought the book would be simple and straightforward.  Instead, it was complicated and disjointed.  Each chapter would start with an idea or concept and then the author would tangent to another idea and then another.  Often I would end the chapter without knowing exactly what the point was.  I think the author had an idea in mind, but the descriptions and stories overwhelmed the main idea so much that the main idea was lost.

I really wanted to like this book and intended to share it with a friend.  Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my expectations.

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finding Me

Through tragedy, Kelli Huddleston discovers that her dad was not what he seemed which leads her to discover her family who are more than they seemed.

Kelli is fired from a job because she stood up for what is right.  This gave her the opportunity to travel across the country to find her birth family and see who they really are while protecting her real identity.  She learns a great deal about them and about herself.

While the story is interesting, I had a hard time with how everything fell into place so nicely.  Kelli had the luxury of not worrying about her income.  Her birth mom was forgiving and understanding.  Her birth sister was open and loving and willing to start a deep relationship with this stranger.  Even her father's best friend extended friendship and grace to Kelli with no questions asked.  No one seemed hurt when the truth came out about what Kelli's father did to the family.  It was just too sugary sweet for my tastes.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Love Letters

Marlena Wenger is struggling to follow her heart as she develops deeper relationships with her Mennonite grandmother, with her English niece, and with her Old Order Amish beau.  She feels torn and has to decide for herself what she believes.

I have read Amish fiction for years and usually like books by Beverly Lewis.  However, this one was not my favorite, or even top 10.  The story line was interesting, but the execution was disjointed.  I never understood Marlena's motivation or even how to she came to her new found understanding of faith.

There was another storyline about a young boy that helps an older man, who is suffering from memory loss, to find his way home.  The only connection between the 2 stories is that they were next door neighbors.  I felt like the stories were 2 separate books forced into 1.

The book was hard to follow and slow going.  It was not something I would recommend.

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

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Deadly Echoes

Sarah Miller has finally settled into a good life.  She has her work as a teacher and her friends whom she trusts.  She recently found her sister and discovered she is an aunt.  Unfortunately, her sister dies, and Sarah has now become a mother to her sister's daughter.

While I liked the storyline, the pace was not so good.  The beginning of the story was quick and intense.  Then the story slowed down.  Clues were dropped but at a mind-numbing pace.  The pace never really picked up even as all the clues came together, but it was more of an afterthought instead of a climax to the story.

I wanted to like this book, but it just was not for me.

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Invisible Front

Mark and Carol Graham share their tragedy of losing 2 sons in order to help others face similar experiences.  They have turned their misery into ministry.  I am so glad that they did.

As former service member myself, I am familiar with the "be strong" attitude that pervades the military.  It is a culture of working hard and not letting feelings or fears interfere with the mission.  I understand the struggle of those who have real feelings and fears and are not allowed to deal with them.

With honesty and truth, this book opens the eyes of the reader of the struggles our current soldiers, sailors, and airmen face.  It is not easy to go to war and return to civilian life.  We need to do more to help veterans as they return from duty.

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lethal Beauty

Once again, Lis Wiehl spins a tale of drama and intrigue, mystery and suspense.  She does well keeping the story interesting while dropping enough tidbits of information to keep the reader wanting to read more.  I hope you have a day off to finish reading this book!

Mia Quinn is still working as an attorney trying to put away the bad guys while dealing with her new role as single mom.  Her son is struggling to be the man of the house and tries to become a man in a way that is not so legal.  Mia has to make some tough decisions and face some difficult situations.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next installment in the Mia Quinn Mystery Series.

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


Monday, February 23, 2015

Esther: Royal Beauty

I love the book of Esther and was excited to read and review this book.

The story has suspense and drama with romance and intrigue.  It is great story, and Angela Hunt maintained the integrity of this Biblical book while also providing context and cultural references.  She adds to the story to help the reader understand the culture in which Esther lived.  She does not change the Biblical story or add unnecessary elements.

My only issue with this book was the pace of the story.  Since I know the Bible story, I know that Haman is the villain and would be introduced into the storyline.  However, I was halfway through the book when I realized that he had yet to appear.  It was on page 255 that Haman doesappear, and the story then picked up as it rushed to the end.  I do not know if it was because of editing or writing, but I felt like the first half of the book was slow and methodical while the last half was fast and rushed.

Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it to a friend.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Dandelion Field

Most romance novels are sappy and predictable.  This is book is not.  It is refreshing and surprising.  I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Cody and Raine a teenagers in love who made a mistake.  Raine's mother, Ginevieve, was a teenage mom, too, who learned to survive by moving constantly and never getting close to anyone.  Just because this survival skill has worked for many years does not mean it is a good skill.  Meeting Dan Moretti reignites all the emotions in Ginevieve that makes her wants to run away.  She fears trusting again, but Dan is a man who is truly trustworthy.

The story line seems complicated at first, but makes sense as the book progresses.  It is an enjoyable read with many other delightful characters who could become future books.  I would love to read another book about the Moretti family.  I even wanted to read this same story but from Evie's perspective.  Who is Evie?  Read the book to find out!

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

The Paleo Chef

I have heard about the Paleo lifestyle but did not know what exactly that means.  So I was excited to review this book so I could get the in's and out's of being Paleo.

Chef Pete Evans provides numerous recipes for Paleo followers.  Each recipe is on its own page with a full page picture and a narrative of how or why Pete Evans created the recipe.  He also gives a brief introduction of the Paleo lifestyle and the basic ingredients used for these recipes.

Even though the food looks delicious, I would have a hard time cooking with these recipes.  Many of the ingredients are not found in my local grocery store.  I cannot get coconuts especially young green coconut, unhulled tahini paste, duck fat,  or even fresh horshradish.  If I lived in a big city, these ingredients might be more readily available.  But for those of us living in the country, many of these recipes would be impossible.  This makes me think that without these ingredients, I could not eat a Paleo diet.

The book itself is still well done with easy to follow recipes and great pictures of food that looks delicious and nutritious.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.  For more information click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Song

Jed King is a singer/songwriter.  When he writes "The Song", his career takes off.  He is happily married to Rose, but the time appart while on tour is detrimental to their relationship.  This storyline reflects Song of Solomon and is a good modernization of the love story.

When I say I want to curl up with a good book, this is that book.  It is the kind of book that when you start reading, you lose track of time.  The story invites you in, and you want to stay.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

The only negative comment I have is that I did not want to see the pictures from the movie in the book.  It not only gave away the story line, but also the ending.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Your Family In Pictures

Taking a good picture of your family may seem daunting; however, this book gives amateur photographers i.e. moms the confidence to take those great family photos.

The book breaks down the essence of a good photo and gives the recipe for how to take it.  With many graphic examples, the reader sees how simple it can be to take a good family photo.

We all love the posed family pictures.  Yet, there are also those candid photos that really tell what your family is like.  Me Ra Koh gives you permission to embrace these candid moments and capture your family's story.  

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  You can find out more information at www.amphotobooks.com.  


Monday, January 5, 2015

Jesus Is __________ : Discovering Who He Is Changes Who You Are

I admit that I was challenged to fill in the blank.  Even though I have been a believer for 25+ years, I was not sure how to finish the sentence.  Because of this, I was intrigued with this book, and wanted to figure out how I would explain who Jesus is.

Even though this is the student edition, this is not a simplified easy reader.  I was impressed with the straightforward approach Judah Smith took as he wrote this book.  He did not dumb down the content; nor did he talk in juvenile language to meet the demographic of students.  Far too often, I read student editions where the language is too colloquial.  Since the latest trends in adolescent language change regularly, you cannot write a book with the vernacular of teens.  Once you do, it is outdated.  This book instead talks directly to teens without insulting their intelligence yet challenging their faith.

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