Saturday, December 31, 2011

First Date: A Review

For most teen girls, the chance to be on a reality TV show and compete for a prom date with the president's son would be a dream come true, but for quiet, small-town Addy, it's more like a nightmare. As the show progresses, will Addy realize that perhaps God has bigger plans for her (and the show) than just a first date?

Loosely based on the Biblical story of Esther, First Date is a fun read. Although the premise of the book is light, the book does delve into deeper topics of faith and family without being preachy or condescending. The characters are real, and I especially like Kara, Addy's roommate and friend, and Mike, the uncle who gave up his career to raise Addy after her parents were killed. Hopefully, the teens who read it will want to check out the story of Esther in the Bible and perhaps even realize that whatever situation God has them in, He placed them there for such a time as this.

Fans of YA will enjoy this book. The author's voice and style reflects her familiarity with teens.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Addison Blakely Confessions of a PK: A Review

Summary: Addison Blakely lives in a fishbowl: not only does she live in a small town where everyone knows her business, but she's the pastor's kid. Up until now, she's lived up to the expectations. Then enters Wes, a motorcycle riding, leather jacket wearing brooder. His attention has her wanting to rebel and to follow her heart instead of the "rules" she's always followed. Will she be able to find her way and learn to balance faith and love?

My thoughts: Even though Addison is a PK, I think she's a great representative of teens who grew up in Christian homes. They have heard the truth for as long as they can remember, but at some point, it has to become THEIR faith, not their parents. This discovery was what stood out to me most in this book. Addison is a likable but boring character, but as she begins to find her own faith and standards, she becomes more interesting. The supporting characters were more intriguing than Addison, perhaps because they were their own people. Marta, my favorite character, shines as an exchange student, and Wes' character growth made him my second favorite...or maybe I'm just a sucker for a bad boy.

The plot keeps a steady pace with typical teen drama when Addison's dad begins dating her teacher and Addison becomes involved in a school talent show. The ending is satisfying, but I hope it becomes a series because I would like to see how Addison develops further. (Or if it's not a series, I would love to see a book on Marta.)

I enjoyed this first YA book by Betsy St. Amant, and I look forward to reading more by her. I think Christian teens, especially those who grew up in Christian homes, will relate to the topics and experiences in this book.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Heart of Ice: A Review

Nicole (an FBI agent), Cassidy (a TV reporter), and Allison (a prosecutor) are best friends and a triple threat to crime. When the Want Ad Killer attacks several ladies in the area, the three are on the case. While they investigate the murders, they become unaware of a psychopath Elizabeth who has wormed her way into their lives, pretending to be a friend while orchestrating events to get what she wants. Will the three friends be able to discover Elizabeth's plan before another person dies?

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read in the series, so I felt a little disconnected from the characters, who were probably developed through the first two books. (I am a character-driven reader.) I love the idea of their friendship and their careers intermingling, but I felt like I didn't really know them. However, the character of Elizabeth was well-developed and quite interesting....her manipulation to have others do her dirty work was fascinating. The action was face-paced and full of twists and turns. This fast read is sure to keep your attention from the first to the last page.

Fans of action packed suspense will love this book, but I do suggest reading the books in order. I do plan to go back and read Face of Betrayal and Hand of Fate.  

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Southern Fried Sushi: A Review

Summary: When Shiloh P. Jacob's mother passes away suddenly, Shiloh leaves her fast-paced life in Tokyo, Japan (where she's a reporter for AP and engaged to Carlos) to bury her mother in Virginia. While she is coming to terms with the death of her mother, who was never a real mother, Shiloh loses her job and her fiance. Stuck in redneck country, Shiloh has to put together the pieces of her life with a little help from some country folk.

My thoughts: The first few chapters had too many details and not enough action, but once Shiloh sets foot in Virgina, the story picks up and becomes a great read. The author's fun style is evident in the vivid, colorful characters (although a bit stereotypical of the South). The character development of Shiloh is heart-felt and authentic. The supporting characters of Becky and Faye are quirky additions and epitomize what's best about the South.
The spiritual truths are evident but not's more of a development of character than a lecture to the reader.

I loved this book: from the cute cover, to the notebook Shiloh keeps of Southern sayings, to the roses in her mother's garden, to the truth that with God, things can bloom again.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Protection for Hire: A Review

When Tessa was just sixteen she began working for her Uncle Teruo's Japanese Mafia gang, so when she takes the fall for someone else's crime and gets seven years in prison, she isn't surprised that people still expect her to be a criminal. Instead, she's a Christian trying to make a fresh start. When she agrees to become a bodyguard for Elizabeth St. Amant, an abused woman whose life is in danger, Tessa finds herself back into her old world...except this time, she's on the right side. Will Tessa be able to stop the people who want Elizabeth dead?

I've read most of Camy Tang's work and enjoyed it. However, this is by far her best book. The action and character development were amazing. As always, the Chinese and Japanese cultures are woven throughout the novel. One of Tang's best writing qualities is her grasp of family dynamics, and this book had one of the best as Tessa forged a relationship with her mother and sister.

Tang did a great job peeling back the layers in her characters, pushing past the superficial and getting to their hearts and motivations....all while out-driving trails and fighting assassins.

Fans of Camy Tang will love this novel. It has a little of everything: culture, romance, action, and family. I look forward to reading the second book in the series!

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Waiting for Dawn: A Review

As a fan of the Team Hope series, I was excited to read this prequel to the books I enjoyed so much. Although this story is short, there is a lot of action packed into each page.
When Jim Micah's team is captured in Afghanistan, Lacey and John risk their lives to save him through a covert mission. When bullets fly, so do emotions. Lacey finds herself pulled between an exciting love and a strong, stable love.
This story/novella was a great introduction to the characters for new readers and an extra adventure for faithful readers.
I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bittersweet Surrender: A Review

The last few years of Carly's life have been tough: she beat breast cancer but lost her husband in the process. She runs a successful spa, but her best friend and spa manager passed away. With a little chocolate and support from her friend Scott, her life seems to be on the upswing, especially when her high school crush Jake moves back to town. When old secrets are revealed, will Carly have the strength to trust and to love again? 

This book is more than a romance. It's about life's secrets and the ripple effects they have on others. Although the topics are hard (cancer, divorce, gambling, lies), this book is still a light read with funny characters like Magnolia and humorous incidents like mishaps with spa clients.

I also enjoyed the fact that the characters were their 40s or so. Although I'm not yet at that age, I think it's a nice break from the 20-something year old heroine in most Christian romance novels.

Overall, fans of Christian fiction will enjoy this sweet novel.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lonestar Angel: A Review

Eden and Clay Larson have endured every parent's worst nightmare. Their precious little girl was kidnapped and presumed dead. Unable to face their loss, the two drifted apart. Now they are reunited as the kidnapper makes contact after years of silence. Will the two be able to find their daughter and their way back to one another?

This book kept me intrigued from the first to the last page. The fast-paced plot was intricately woven and contained twists and turns in each chapter. I had read the previous books in the series, and it was nice to see familiar characters play a supporting role in Eden and Clay's story. The romance element was interesting as well since it was a couple who was already married...that was a nice change from the typical romance.

I have a heart for kids in foster care. I taught several kids in the system and mentor a teen in foster care now. The storyline of girls in foster care was done well---showing the flaws and successes. The girls' stories added an emotional element to a suspense novel, raising the overall impact of the story and making it my favorite book in the series.

Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy this addition to the Lonestar tales by Colleen Coble.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Attracted to Fire: A Review

When the vice president's daughter receives death threats, Meghan is given the assignment of protecting the young woman as she goes through therapy for drug addiction on a secluded Texas ranch. When the vice president is sworn in as president, the threats against Lindsay increase and the ranch is attacked. Will Meghan be able to save the president's daughter even if it means losing her heart to the Special Agent in Charge?

I enjoyed this book. I loved the characters, especially Meghan, from the first chapter. She's a great heroine: strong and independent. Even the supporting characters were well-developed and added to the overall theme of the novel. The mystery of who was threatening Lindsay was fast-paced and even though the reader finds out who it is by the middle of the book, the adventure was in finding out how the person would be caught.

Overall, fans of Christian suspense will be delighted with another great book by DiAnn  Mills.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Wedding Invitation: A Review

When Samantha Bravencourt receives an invitation to Avery's wedding, she assumes it is her old college friend. However, when she arrives at the wedding, she discovers it's a different Avery. Deciding to stay at the wedding despite not knowing the bride or groom, Samantha runs into a former student, a Vietnamese refugee who is now in America, and her fellow teacher who broke her heart years before. Will Samantha be able to move on from the past hurt to see a beautiful future?

Although slow in some parts, this book is much  more than a romance. It is about past hurts hindering a happy future. The book alternates between the past when Samantha taught the refugees and the current storyline, set in 1993/94. The flashbacks give depth to the plot and, more importantly, the characters although there sometimes seemed to be too many characters. Because there were such great characters, it seemed most of the book was about the characters themselves, not necessarily them doing anything, which stalled the pace of the novel.

Overall, A Wedding Invitation is a thought-provoking read.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bittersweet Summer: A Review

Nine-year-old Katie is not having a good summer. Her best friend is gone for the summer, her father is thinking about moving to another city, and her annoying neighbor Claire is determined to get their teacher to fall in love with her dad. When she and her brother get a surprise visit from their country music star mother, Katie learns what bittersweet means and what a family really is.

I found this to be a wonderful book. Although I have not read the previous books in the series, I was able to catch up quickly. The characters are well-developed and intriguing. The book deals with difficult topics like a mother who walked out on her family to pursue her dreams, moving, and family dynamics. Each topic is handled in an age-appropriate way with humor keeping the book a fun read.

I recommend this book for younger readers, and I plan to read the rest of the books in the series.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Lasting Impression: A Review

When Claire Laurent flees New Orleans, she hopes to leave her past behind, a past of forging paintings for her father and uncle. She ends up at Belmont Mansion as a personal liaison for Adelicia Acklen, one of the wealthiest women in America after the Civil War. When her past comes back to haunt her, will Claire be able to right the wrongs and look to creating a beautiful future?

This book is amazing. I love that Tamera Alexander set the book in the mansion of a real historical legend. The characters are vivid, fresh, and compelling. The plot develops slowly, with each event leading to the revelation of Clarie's past and her final redemption.

I could go on and on about the plots in this book. In addition to the main story of Claire are vivid stories of the effects of the Civil War, family dynamics, and the arrangement of relationships and marriages in that time. These stories add to the overall story of Claire and give a beautiful glimpse into one of America's most tumultuous times.

I recommend this book to Christian fiction lovers. This book captured my attention from the first page and kept me enthralled until the last page.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fireman Dad: A Review

Marissa has been burned by firemen before. Her father always chose his job over his family, and Marissa grew up longing for a relationship with him. Her late husband lost his life fighting a fire. So when she meets Jake, a firefighter, she is determined to ignore her growing feelings for him. As they plan a fundraiser for firefighters who lost their jobs together, will they be able to get over their differences to find a common ground--love?

Betsy St. Amant knows the world of firefighting since her husband is one, and it shows in this book. The characters and their character growth is realistic and compelling. The added mystery of threats to the fire department adds a little spice to this sweet romance. Fans of Christian romance will enjoy this book.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Giveaways!

Congrats to Dawn for winning this week's giveaway! I'll mail your book soon.

I've mentioned that I'm moving, so I am weeding out my books. This week I'm doing something different.  I'm going to list a number of books, and you can get one just by following my blog.
First, follow the blog.
Second, leave a comment with your first two choices of books from the blog post and your email address so I can contact you.
I'll send the books first come, first serve, which is why you should list a few you would want just incase someone else picked the one you want. When the books run out, so will the contest.
I can only ship to the US.

I think that's about it.
Here's the list:
A Thousand Tomorrow's by Karen Kingsbury
Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh
Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins
Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins
Priced to  Move by Ginny Aiken

Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra Bricker
Freedom's Stand by Jeanette Windle
Happily Ever After by Susan May Warren
Blood Lines by Mel Odom
Breaker's Reef by Terri Blackstock

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Restless in Carolina: A Book Review

Summary: Widow Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is determined to find a an eco-friendly buyer for her uncle's land so that he can right a wrong in the family's history. When two men are interested in purchasing the property and also in pursuing Bridget, she has to figure out which man is the one for her and which one is just a "widow sniffer." Will she find out the truth before her heart is broken again?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this book. At first, it was a little hard to get into the book because I didn't click with Bridget as quickly as I did the characters in the previous books in this series. However, I think that shows the character for who she is: rough on the edges and a little odd but after a while, people see her heart and all she has to offer. Bridget's zany idiosyncrasies like her refusal to read the words "happily ever after" to her niece lighten the serious theme of the book, Bridget's anger at God for taking her husband and her struggle to live and to love again.

Overall, it was an enjoyable conclusion to the series, and readers will enjoy seeing what is finally done with Uncle Obe's property.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Loraine for winning Shadow in Serenity! I just sent you an email.
This week, I'm giving away A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell. It's a great book! To enter to win, tell me about a desire of your heart. One of my desires is to get married. I'm praying God sends me the man he has for me or that he makes me happy with being single. Most days I love  being single, but these holidays can be hard alone, especially since it's the first Thanksgiving without my dad.
But, I don't mean to be a downer. Sorry!
To get a second entry, leave a second comment letting me know you follow the blog. I can only ship to the US, and I'll pick a winner next week.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. My dad used to always say, "In America, every day is a holiday, every meal is a feast, and every man's a king." We got together often to eat, and he would say that every time. America has its problems, but I'm so thankful for it, flaws and all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cabin Fever: A Book Review

Greg is back and running from the law. When Greg and Rowley scheme up a plan to make some money for Christmas, their idea goes awry as usual, and school property is damaged. When a blizzard hits, Greg is stuck inside with his family but that's better than being hauled off to jail, right?

I enjoyed this book. Yes, some elements require the reader to imagine a little (like the family not noticing the neighbors having electricity), but what children's book doesn't?  I am a librarian at an elementary school, and I found the jokes about education hilarious. The kids were getting hurt on the playground equipment, so they removed each piece of equipment. When a kid got stuck, the teachers weren't allowed to touch a kid, so the parents had to come. They removed sugar drinks, so kids started selling them behind the school. It was also fun to see Manny grow up a little and become more of player in the storyline.

Fans of the series will enjoy this funny addition.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shadow in Serenity

When Logan comes to the small town of Serenity to swindle a naive town out of its hard-earned money, he didn't count on meeting Carny, a former con artist herself. Will he be able to pull of the ruse without losing his heart in the process? 

Terri Blackstock is one of my favorite Christian suspense authors, so I found this book a little slow as it focused more on a romance than a mystery. The characters are vivid, the town is enrapturing, but the plot dragged on for a little too long.

Fans of Terri Blackstock will enjoy this book, but it's definitely not my favorite by her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In the small town of Amaryllis, a serial killer is on the loose. In the last three years, five elderly women have been murdered in the exact same way. When a sixth woman is murdered, authorities believe it is the work of the serial killer although the woman murdered doesn't fit the profile of the previous victims. Is it the work of the same man, or is there a second killer threatening the peace of the quaint town?

This is Brandilyn Collins' best book! Although the book is a murder mystery, the entire story is told from the point of view of three women, who are quite different but similar in one way...they each believe they know who the murderer is. Working together, they begin to piece together the pieces, and I enjoyed the storyline of normal women stepping up and figuring things out instead of having the investigators do all the work.
As always in a Collins' novel, there is a lot of action, and while I suspected who the killer was, I still enjoyed the ride finding him. Even more than the mystery, I enjoyed seeing the character growth in the three narrators. This book is a must-read for Christian suspense fans!

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Melanie for winning Try Dying.
This week I'm giving away Shadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock.
To enter to win, tell me what makes you feel serene. Be sure to leave an email address. Get a second entry by following the blog (leave a second comment). I can only ship to the US.
I'll pull a name next week.

If you won in the last few weeks, I've been really busy and haven't shipped the books. I'm going to do it tomorrow, I promise!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Busy Tree and My Trees

I LOVE this book, partly because of my tree obsession and partly because it is a simple but poignant look at one of nature's most beautiful creations.
Most people look at a tree as something that stands, provides shade, and can cause a lot of damage when falling. However, they are so much more. They are home to creatures, playgrounds for children, and the source of the very air we breathe.
The illustrations are magnificent and add vivid images to the short couplets.

I live in Kingwood, which is known for beautiful trees. My cousin sweetly came and shot some of my favorite tree spots. Here are a few of her pictures.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Falling for Rapunzel

Falling for Rapunzel is a cute twist on the Rapunzel story. Instead of the helpless maiden, we have a maiden with a bad hair day. When the prince hears her crying over her hair, he tries to save her, asking her to throw down something to let him climb up to rescue her. She doesn't understand him and sends down everything from socks (locks) to underwear (hair). She sends down her maid when he tells her to let down her braid, and the fairy tale ending comes true...just not the typical way.

This delightful tale is sure to entertain both children and parents alike.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Billy and Milly, Short and Silly

What a wonderful book for young children and those learning rhyming words. Told only in rhyming words, this book tells the adventures of Billy and Milly. With one word per page, the reader has to use the colorful illustrations to piece together the story. Young kids will have fun guessing the next rhyming word to complete the story.
I used this book with my kindergarten kids in the library, and they loved guessing the next word and then coming up with more rhyming words.


Even though Cody and Bailey are dating other people, their story is not yet finished. When life events cause their paths to cross, the two must figure out their lingering feelings for each other. Will they return to their first love or discover that your first love isn't always your forever love?

After being disappointed with the first two books in the Bailey Flanigan series, I enjoyed Longing. Bailey finally makes a decision about which man is the one for her. (I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that although I love both Cody and Brandon, the decision is logically and satisfying.) I became frustrated with the first two books because I felt characters I had loved for so long were being destroyed to fill a four-book series. However, this book brought the journey to a close in many ways. Both Bailey and Cody are now completely developed as characters, and as a faithful Karen Kingsbury reader, that was wonderful to read.  Although some of the subplots were far-fetched (Cody's football story), the story of Cheyenne was delicately written and touching to read since I have walked that road with someone I love. Now that Bailey has made her choice, I look forward to the fourth book to see her final growth as an adult woman.

I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Book Giveaway

Congrats to Michelle for winning There You'll Find Me. You're going to love it, my friend. I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. :)
Today, I am giving away Try Dying by James Scott Bell. To enter to win, leave a comment with something new you would like to try. I want to learn how to quilt. I called a sewing place around me because my mom, niece, and I want someone to teach us. Sadly, the classes are in the day when I'm at work and my niece is at school. I think we'll try youtube because I've heard from several people that they've learned new things by watching videos of someone demonstrating how to do something.

To get a second entry, follow the blog and leave a separate comment that you follow.
I can only ship to the US. I'll announce a winner next week.

Just so you know, I am moving next month, so I am cleaning out my books. I may do a few two/three book giveaways soon. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Twenty Pounds Down

I hit 20 pounds lost a week or so ago, and I wanted to have a picture to document to see if I can tell a difference.
I don't have a full-body picture, but here's me when I started my fitness pal. (Isn't the tree beautiful? It's the survivor tree at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. I love trees.)

Here's a picture at my sister's birthday party Saturday.

I've lost 1 inch from my neck, 3 inches from my waist, and 2 inches from my hips. :)

I still have a long way to go!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii

Fans of Sierra Jensen will love catching up with an old friend in this novel. Four years have passed since readers last saw the fiery blond with a heart for God. When Sierra's job in Brazil ends, she finds herself at a loss at what do next. When her friend offers her a trip to Sunset Beach, Hawaii, Sierra knows it's a gift from God. She'll have time to catch up with her sister and to figure out God's plan for her life next. When she keeps running into Jordan, a photographer with his own career plans, Sierra must decide whether to return to Brazil and take the job offered or follow her heart and Jordan back to the states.

I read the Sierra Jensen series back in high school and felt the series ended before Sierra's story did. I was thrilled when Robin Jones Gunn wrote this book, telling the next phase of Sierra's life. However, one book didn't do justice to this amazing character. Most of the book felt rushed, and several times I wished there had been more reflection on an event (like Sierra's work in Brazil ,her conversations with Tawni,  or even Sierra's thoughts on seeing Paul married) than was given. The events of this book could have been told with more depth in a two or three book series.
Overall, I enjoyed catching up with a character I consider an old friend.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Patricia and Melanie for winning last week's giveaways.
Today I'm giving away one of the best books I've read in a while, There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones. (Am I the only one who thinks of Junie B. Jones every time I write her name?)
To enter to win, leave a comment telling me the best book you've read in a while or tell me about the place where you found Christ. I reconnected with Christ when I was working at an orphanage in Mexico. They had the most beautiful sunsets that reflected vibrant colors onto the desolate houses in the area. God's beauty is everywhere, and I'm amazed He shines into the dirtiest places of my heart. I worked there two summers in a row, and I long to go back.

To get a second entry, follow the blog and leave me a separate comment letting me know you follow. :) Make sure you leave your email address too.
I can only ship to the US. My sister will pick a random number next Tuesday.

Monday, October 31, 2011

There You'll Find Me

I have been waiting for this type of book since I became a teacher and lover of YA literature. A beautiful coming of age story from a Christian perspective. It's finally here.
Finley Sinclair heads to Ireland to find herself by following her brother's steps from his travel journal. In retracing his adventure, she hopes to find peace from the turmoil of her life since his death. When she meets a movie star, her journey to healing becomes even more complicated.
From the first page of the book, I loved Finley Sinclair, a girl who has more issues than she does hope. Her growth throughout the story is a beautiful tale of loss and healing. As usual, Jenny B. Jones adds enough humor throughout the book to keep the tale from becoming morose or gloomy.
What sets this book apart from books of its type (think Sarah Dessen) is that not only does Finley find herself and the guy she didn't know she wanted, but she finds the One who loves her so much that He orchestrated her life and her trip to Ireland so that she might find Him. That is the most important love story of all time, and teen readers will walk away from reading this book with more than just a cute romance (although the character of Beckett is definitely crush-worthy). :)

I received this book in exchange for my review. My love for it is entirely my own.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Corruptible

Ray Quinn, ex-homicide detective and current PI, finds himself investigating much more than a murder case when he takes on a rich client with secrets to hide, secrets he's willing to pay Ray big bucks to find and to turn over. When Ray begins to uncover the truth, his own life is in danger, perhaps by the very people who hired him.

I enjoyed this book. The characters are well-developed, the plot is exciting, and there are a few twists to the story. Two things stood out to me and made this book a fun read. It's has a different approach than many Christian novels in that the main character is not a Christian and has a drinking problem. I find the fact that Ray is not a Christian even in book two of the series to be refreshing and realistic. Although the truth of Jesus is presented through the supporting character of Pam, it's not pushy or preachy.
The second thing I enjoyed was a little humor. Everyone knows about the e-mail scams from people claiming to need money transferred and then they'll repay you. Ray gets one of those and plays along with it, pretending to be an elderly lady. The murder/cover-up/corporate fraud plot is a heavy one, and this side story lightened the read and was a nice touch.

I definitely plan to check out book three in the series.

I was given this book free in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

My niece's thoughts on Secret Sisters: Volume 1

My niece is an avid reader and a budding author who already has binders full of stories. The author Secret Sisters, Sandra Byrd, kindly gave us the kindle version of the Secret Sisters stories. In return, we're sharing our thoughts.
Here's a short interview with our guest reviewer:

Our reviewer with her Nana (my mom)
So, Brenna, tell me what book one is about.

It's about a girl named Tess who is in 6th grade. Tess' best friend just joined a group of bad girls, and Tess feels left out. When she meets an unpopular Christian girl, and Tess feels torn between being friends with Erin, her new Christian friend, or her old friend who wants her to make bad choices. Tess has to decide to do the right or wrong thing.

What did you like best?

I love when Tess stands up to her bad best friend and becomes Secret Sisters with the "unpopular" girl Erin.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I like Erin because she trusts God throughout the whole book no matter what others think.

Who do you think would enjoy this book?

Any girl who feels unpopular like Tess and feels like she has to do bad things to be popular would like this book. Girls who are Christians and want to stand up for what they believe will like it too.

What would you want to tell the author?

This is a great book for girls who have struggles like Tess. :)

Anything else you want to add?

Tess feels better about herself after getting to know God and Erin.

Thanks for the book, Mrs. Sandra Byrd!

**Brenna was working on her homework while she answered these, so I promise I will ask better questions next time. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Patricia for winning last week's book.  I'm sending you an email to get your address.
I forgot to post yesterday. And to be honest, I don't have an excuse, good or bad.
So, to make it up to you, I'll give away two books: Paid in Blood (Christian mystery) and Quaker Summer. To enter to win, leave a comment describing your summer memory. To get a second entry, leave a separate comment that you follow the blog. Don't forget to include your email address because Shoopette won this last week, but there was no email address. :(
I can only ship to the US.

I'll pick a winner Tuesday. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Reinventing Leona

I read this book because it was free on Kindle, and I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I do.
When Leona's husband passes away, her world collapses. She loses her husband and her position as a pastor's wife. The character development in Leona as she finds her way is authentic and beautiful. The look inside the role of a pastor's wife is interesting, and the quirky church members provide some levity.
Rotating among Leona, her daughter, and her son's point of view, the book gives a true picture of grief and how it affects different people. Most importantly, the story depicts the healing and the good Christ brings believers even in the midst of great loss.

Deadly Pursuit

Social worker Alison Taylor is dedicated to her job of protecting kids, but when her own life is in danger, who will protect her? When her brother sets her up on a blind date, Alison finds her answer in ex-Navy Seal Mitch Morgan, who is determined to protect Alison and to steal her heart.

Irene Hannon fans will devour this latest book by one of my favorite Christian suspense authors. The characters aren't as developed as in other books, but I enjoyed their story. Some of the reviews I've read complained that Mitch and Alison fell for one another too quickly, but I think in life, sometimes you just know when it's the right person. I found their instant attraction to be a nice change from the many books I've read where they hate each other at first and then find they do love each other.
I work in an elementary school and have seen some of the social system at work. I believe this book gives a fair look at both the positive and negative aspects of the social system. Alison's work was an interesting component of the book and added to storyline with some thought-provoking situations.

All in all, this is another great read by Irene Hannon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Giveaway

Congrats to Melanie, who won Pattern of Wounds. I'm sending you an email now.
Today, I'm giving away The Corruptible. I'm in the middle of it and enjoying it. It's another murder mystery, but I find it to be a lighter read than most murder mysteries. There's even some humor to it.
To enter to win, leave a comment about something....sorry, long day. Leave a second comment letting me know you follow the blog for a second entry. My sister will pick a number next Tuesday for a winner.

I can only ship to the US. :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Versatile Blogger

I had no idea what this award was, but it seems to be where you share blogs with your readers. I think it's a great way to share terrific blogs.

The rules for accepting the award are simple:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award to 15 other bloggers.
1. Thanks, Melanie, for giving me the award.
2. Seven things about myself:
    * I am a cupcake addict.
    * I have grown to love kindergarten kids.
    * One of my favorite things to do is check my mail!
    * I have a phobia of potato eyes.
    * I wish I could sing.
    * I hope to adopt kids one day even if I don't get married.
    * I can't wait until I'm debt free!
3. Here are the 15 blogs I think you should check out! Several are just my favorite authors.
    * Steph's Lifesong
    * A Few of my Favorite Things
    * Dawn's Dreams
    * Writer at Large
    * Book Review Blog 
    * Erynn Mangum
    * Kampala Kangaroo
    * Seasons of Humility
    * Southern Belle View
    * Southern Sassy Things
    * K. Dawn Byrd
    * K. Billerbeck
    * Jenny B. Jones
    * Elizabeth Camden
    * Denise Hildreth Jones


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Cheryl for winning Gone with the Groom. I'll send you an email for your address.

Today I'm giving away Pattern of Wounds. It's a great murder mystery. It's part of a series, but I didn't feel confused or lost even though I didn't read the first one. Plus, it's set where I live, which I think is cool.

To enter to win, leave a comment with something unique or special about your hometown or the place where you live. To get a second entry, leave a second comment letting me know you follow this blog.
I can only ship to the US, and I'll draw a name next Tuesday...well, my sister will pick a random number. :)

Thanks for reading and for following.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pattern of Wounds

Roland March helped convict a man of murder, so when a similar murder takes place, Roland is determined to find out if he put away the right guy or if there is a copycat murderer. When the murderer begins sending Roland cryptic messages and even tries to hurt Charlotte, Roland's wife, the investigation becomes personal. Will Roland catch the murderer before there are more victims?

This is the first book I've read by J. Mark Bertrand, and I wasn't disappointed. The storyline is tightly written with every detail building up to the final showdown.The relationship between Roland and his wife is powerful addition to the murder story as the reader can see the effect being a cop and seeing such horrible things on a person, his view of God, and his relationships. The ending is a chilling beginning for the next book!

It was also cool to read this book since I live just outside of Houston (Kingwood, in fact, just like the book mentioned in the book), so I recognized streets and places.

I was given this book to review by Bethany House. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Free Therapy

Elliptical machine + praise and worship music = free therapy

This summer I worked out almost every day. I love working out. Since I've been back at work, I haven't had much time to work out. It's been okay because most of my day is spent walking back and forth in the library keeping up with the kids, so I am getting exercise.
However, it's not the same as hitting the gym. 45 minutes on the elliptical or even an hour releases all my stress. When I add some praise and worship music, my body and spirit feel renewed. I need to make an effort to go to the gym for more than just my weight loss goals.

What do you do to release stress?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hate that Cat

Love that Dog, the prequel to Hate that Cat, is one of my favorite books. I was a little apprehensive about reading Hate that Cat because I didn't want it to disappoint me and ruin the characters I love so much. This book exceeded my expectations! Creech picks up right where she left off, delving into the ins and outs of poetry (and teaching the reader a little bit about the styles of poetry) by having Jack express his hate for a cat that hangs around his house. 

Instead of using the predictable storyline of Jack discovering cats aren't so bad (although that is in the story), the main storyline of Jack's discovery of the "sound" of words, especially the cadence of poetry, and that relationship to his hearing impaired mother.

What could have been an overkill of a good thing (like so many series are these days) turns out to be further character growth and a beautiful story of the power of words and the sounds they make on paper and aloud.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's Not a Stick

What a great book! I read it with my library students this week (grades 1-2), and we enjoyed using our imaginations. The simple words and pictures leave room for the reader to guess what the stick will be and to use their imaginations to decide what else the stick could be!
I will definitely use this book again in the library and look for the other books by this author.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Giveaway!

Congrats to Shelena for winning Reclaiming Nick.

Today I'm giving away Gone with the Groom about a groom that disappears before the wedding. Is it cold feet or a kidnapping? (Why do we call it kidnapping even when it's an adult?) To enter to win, leave a comment with a detail from your wedding or a detail you would like to have at your future wedding. To get a second entry, leave a second comment letting me know you follow the blog.

My sister will pick a random number next Tuesday. I can only ship to the US.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Blessed are the Meddlers

Sydney is happily married and wants every one else to be just as happy. As it turns out, her meddling doesn't always get the results she wants. Can she help her friends find true love without ruining her friendship with them?
Once you get past the awkward shifts from first to third person, this is a cute, fun novel. The issues characters deal with are serious, but they are handled in a light way without coming across as preachy.
Overall, it's an enjoyable summer read.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

This is a beautiful story of a friendship through the seasons...literally and figuratively. City dog and country frog meet in the spring and become instant if unusual friends. Their friendship continues through summer and fall, where they sit and remember the fun they had in spring and summer. When winter comes, city dog cannot find his dear friend and sits and waits for spring to come again. Will his old friend return, or will a new friendship develop?

I read this book with my first and second graders in my library, and we all enjoyed the story of friendship. Most of the students focused on the seasons, but a few got the meaning of the cycle of friendship. I found myself emotional each time I read it as the city dog "smiles a froggy smile." This is a wonderful addition to a personal or public library. It's definitely on my list to read again next year.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride

Sherilyn just landed a job as the wedding coordinator for The Tanglewood, a destination hotel where her best friend from college is the baker (Always the Baker, Never the Bride). It's the perfect job and the perfect place to have her own wedding. Will her past come back to ruin her dream wedding?

Most romance novels begin when the girl meets the guy. This one starts with the Sherilyn and Andy already engaged. This change of set-up is refreshing and creates a story of getting to know the in-laws, finding out quirks about each other, and working through the past to create a beautiful future together.

I thought the first book in the series was good, but this one is great. The characters are better developed, the situations are more realistic, and book is balanced with a little humor.  

If you liked the first book, you'll love this one.

I received this book from netGalley to review. My thoughts are my own.