Friday, July 30, 2010

Review of Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

Bethany House sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review for them.

Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything.

Loved this book! Filled with mystery, whit, twists and turns, it was a great read right up until the end. Deeanne Gist is one of my favorite authors as well and J. Mark Bertrand's books will now be checked out at the library.

A fantastic storyline that follows Kylee during her dog walking jobs for high end clients. What I loved about this book was the mystery surrounding the plot and it not being easily identifiable as to "who dunnit". There were no lagging parts and the characters were well developed. Who would've thought a book about a rollerblading dog walker could be so good!

Review of She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

As Clara Carter's social debut looms, she's been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. As celebrity's spotlight turns her into a society-page darling, it seems she may just achieve this.
Yet life in the limelight feels hollow--until a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is. But as gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake. In a world where wealth and image are everything, is true love too high a price?

Siri Mitchell is one of my favorite authors who is just coming onto the author scene. This book was well written and eye opening as to how the culture may have been back in the 1890's. Living in a well to do culture, having your marriage planned, and all the games that come with whom you are supposed to marry. Corsets, status quo, friendships, opulence, greed and convenience are some topics this books surrounds.

Great book, great author and a quick read.

Review of Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

With the promise of prime homesteads and fresh starts, sixteen Civil War widows uproot and move out West. But they soon find that more than land is awaiting their arrival.

When the women finally stumble off the train, they are greeted by the local bachelors--eager to propose marriage! As the true motive behind the offered land is revealed, the women muster all the faith, courage, and cunning they can to survive their new circumstances.

An ok, alright book. It was hard keeping track of 16 people from the beginning. I had to keep referring back to the beginning throughout the book to remember who was who. Two chapters in, it was mainly about seven "brides", still a lot of people to remember. Some of the "brides'" histories were more developed than others, even up until the end of the book. I think it was too many main characters in one book to develop well and have it be a good, smooth story line.

I didn't particularly care for it, but know others who have read it that did enjoy it.

Review of The Seeker by Ann H Gabhart

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them.

Set during the 1860s, The Seeker introduces readers to Charlotte Vance, a pampered Kentucky gentlewoman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers—a religious group that does not allow marriage—she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte’s sister, it is more than she can bear.

I was skeptical in reading this book as I shy away from any Amish-type books. This one was different in that it was a group of people called the Shakers, whose religion was very interesting to learn about. After the Civil War, the Shaker communities started dying out, but one still remains today in Maine.

What was also different about this book was that it wasn't about someone wanting to leave their religious community (as most Amish books write about), but someone who was wanting to join the community (with skewed intentions).

I thought the history lesson throughout this book was what made it shine. Especially about the Shaker community and their beliefs.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review of Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review for them.

Here is a short overview of the book:

Frantz introduces readers to Morrow Little, who is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?

I was thinking this was another fluff book, but I was quickly proved wrong. From the first page, it was heart wrenching and chalked full of emotion. I didn't want to put this book down and ended up staying up until 1:30 in the morning to finish it. Around every corner there was another challenge for Morrow to face.

The main character was well developed throughout the book as well as the secondary characters. The plot flowed well and had me hooked from the beginning. The history was educating as well. I can't even imagine what it was like living on Indian territory. So much hostility between the British, Americans and Native Americans. A completely different life.

I'd highly recommend this book. I'll definitely be reading this one again.

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Review of Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them.

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades.

Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past.

With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money.

The summary of this book sounded riveting and fascinating. I was excited and looking forward to reading it.

I was sorely disappointed. It took a very long time to get through this book. The plot was very slow moving until the last couple chapters. Secondary characters were interspersed throughout the story line which helped the story move a bit. Towards the end, all of a sudden those secondary characters' perspectives were shared (which weren't at all through 95% of the book). It just read choppy. The last couple chapters were chalked full of suspense that was lacking throughout the rest of the book.

It took a long time to figure out who was related to what character as there was a bombardment at the onset of son's, uncle's, cousins, in-laws, brothers, wives, husbands and sisters and it was very confusing and hard to navigate through. I think it could've been a much better book if it didn't move slowly, have less characters and the suspense was distributed throughout the book instead of at the very end.

Review of Not A Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols

Bethany House sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review.

Mary Bridget Washburn is tired of running, tired of being haunted by the empty shell her life has become. how in the world did the little girl she once was become a woman on the wrong side of the law?

This was an great book, well written and one that I didn't want to put down. Very emotional and it sucks you right in from the beginning. It's also a great reminder that your lies will catch up with you eventually and that if in ministry, it can run your life and ruin it if you're not careful.

I really enjoyed this book, right up to the end and will stay on my bookshelf to read again.

Review of Touching the Clouds by Bonnie Leon

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy of Touching the Clouds to review.

Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. When she leaves her home in Washington State to follow her dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot, she knows it will be an uphill battle. But she never expected it to be quite like this. As the lone woman in a man's world, she finds that contending with people's expectations is almost as treacherous as navigating the wild arctic storms.

This story follows Kate on her flights during the 1930's in the Alaskan wilderness and the feeling of needing to be more. A good, quick read, this 1st book in the Alaskan Skies Series started off this series well and I'm curious as to what the 2nd book will be about.

One thing that caught me off guard was the quick ending. I wasn't expecting it to wrap up in a half page and thought that book two will be a continuation and leaving one hanging, wondering what happens to Kate and her new relationship. Obviously, this could very well still happen.

Looking forward to reading book two!

Available July 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, July 16, 2010

no agenda today

It's been a long while since I posted anything on here. As my boss said yesterday, "If you work in Children's Ministry, your summer doesn't start until after VBS is over." I'm thankful that our VBS wasn't in August!

Today is the first day I've been home in the last 10 days. 10 days straight of working 12+ hours each finally took its toll yesterday at about noon. I thought I had hit the wall on Wednesday, but found yesterday it wasn't the final wall to hit, and it wasn't the wall that broke. Our women's ministry director just happened to be walking by the room I was decorating and asked how I was holding up. The wall crumbled with that one question and I finally cracked and broke. I was purely exhausted and it finally caught up with me. Thankfully she has big shoulders and completely understood and gave me a big hug. Our entire team was spent and by the grace of God, we all still love each other :)

I have the most amazing co-workers as they forced (literally) me to take a break yesterday and took over my job of putting together the bins for Sunday. I was able to sit outside and eat lunch (Mary's leftovers that she graciously thrust into my hands). It was just the break I needed to finish that last day of our Kids' Summer Adventure. My boss sat us all down and told us to take next week off and only do what absolutely needs done. I'll be able to take Tuesday through Saturday off to spend with my family whom I have missed so very much.

My amazing husband has held down the home fort and has taken care/played with the kids. His patience is mind blowing as he has held it together every day of me not being here and has been so supportive and encouraging of me and working. I couldn't have made it as long as I did without his support. Thank you my love!

The week was a huge success, tons of kids, amazing volunteers and kids hearing about Jesus. The set was beyond amazing. The weather was perfect. I loved hearing those 3 year olds to 4th graders sing at the top of their lungs as a huge group. Yelling "Let's GO!" after the Bible point was spoken every single time. The excited buzz in the air each night as kids rotated from station to station, laughing and having a blast. It was worth all the hard work and long hours.

It's 1:30 and I'm still in my pajamas. No agenda. No set to tear down and put together a new one (had to do that each night for the Bible story room). No walking from building to building to make sure everything is set for the evening (I think I walked miles over the week). Nothing to do but sit. And make pb&j sandwiches for lunch.