Tuesday, July 26, 2011

9 down, 74 to go!

Last time I posted about my weight-loss quest, I was on a plateau. I realized I hadn't updated with my progress! Even though I was on the plateau of four pounds lost forever, I kept with the program of working out and eating right. It paid off.
I'm down nine pounds now! :) I'm starting to feel and to see a difference.
At lunch Sunday, my nephew looked at me, cocked his head, and said, "You look different. Skinnier." Then he turned back to his food. He made my day!

Book Giveaway!

Congrats Cheryl! You won Stuck in the Middle. I'll email you today to get your address.

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but even if you win a book, you can still enter to win more. :) I think Michelle has already won two!
Today, I'm giving away Inside Threat. I just reviewed it in the post before this one, so check it out.
Just leave a comment with your favorite characteristic in a hero (male or female). I can only ship to the U.S., and I'll pick a winner next Tuesday. I'll email you twice before sending the book to another person who entered.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Inside Threat

Riley Covington loves Khadi Faroughi, but their differences in religious beliefs have kept them apart. When Khadi is taken captive by American Muslim extremists who have taken hostages at a state funeral where Khadi was working, Riley knows he must save the woman he loves before she is beheaded.  Will there be time for him to rescue her and to her how he feels?
This is the first book in the Riley Covington series that I have read, and I wish I had read the first three. While this book can stand alone, reading the first three books would have given me more background information. However, I still enjoyed this book. It is action packed. From the first chapter to the last sentence, the roller coaster ride is fast and heart-thumping. Some of the action scenes are a little gruesome, but they add depth to the plot and are not written just to add gore to the story.
Fans of action packed suspense with Christian themes with love this book, despite it’s less than “happily ever after” ending. Although the ending is tough, it is necessary for the overall theme of the book and ends the series nicely. I hope the two authors work together again on another series.

I received this book from Tyndale for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own. J

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate

What a wonderful book! This is my first book by Lisa Wingate, but it will not be my last. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m a character-driven reader, and this book has two wonderful characters. Epiphany is a teenager who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. Her mother never wanted her, and for her sixteen years, she’s been trying to find her place in life. When she gets a job looking after an elderly man on the rich side of town, she’s sure she won’t fit in there either. Except J. Norman Alvord isn’t a typical old man. He’s a grumpy man who is desperate to maintain his independence, and that means running of the teenager his daughter hired to help look after him. Both of them struggle to find their place in the world: Epiphany isn’t sure about her future, and J. Norman isn’t sure about his past. Can they work together to find the answers?

I think I enjoyed this book so much because I have taught hundreds of Epiphanys in my nine years working in low-income schools. Kids who are trapped in poverty, trapped in a school where it’s not cool to want to succeed, trapped in an environment that seems hopeless. This character captured my heart, and I was rooting for her to beat the odds from the beginning. J. Norm, as Epiphany calls him, is a cantankerous old man, and the two of them together create some funny scenes, which balance out the serious theme of the book.

One short passage stands out to me. It’s from a section of the book where J. Norm and Epiphany are on the run and he shows her Saturn in the sky. As she relaxes and looks at the massive sky, she thinks, “Maybe not everyone got the mom who baked cupcakes and showed up at all the school parties. There weren’t enough of those to go around, so maybe God used other people, like Mrs. Lora and J. Norm, to make sure you learned how to shell a purple hull pea or find Saturn in the night sky.” So while this book is a work of fiction, it is a beautiful reminder of how as God’s children, we need to be involved in other people’s lives, especially when they have been forsaken by the ones who should be there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

These Boots Weren't Made for Walking Giveaway!

Congrats to Dawn for winning Stuck in the Middle.

Today I'm giving away a copy of These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson. It's a fun read. To enter, just leave a comment about your favorite kind of shoe. :) I will pick a winner next Tuesday.
I'm starting to draw names in the evening since that's the time I'll draw once I go back to work, so comments can be left until I draw on Tuesday evenings. The time may vary.
I can only ship to the US.
Please leave your email with your comment. You'll have a week to email me back with your address if you win, or I'll pull a different name. :)
Thanks so much for entering.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Spiritual Lesson from Bubbles Carwash

I went to Bubbles Car Wash the other day, and just like the first time I went, it was hard. Usually at a car wash, they ask you to leave your car with them, and it comes back squeaky clean. Not at Bubbles.
Here are the rules:
1. Put your car in neutral.
2. Take your hands off the wheel.
3. Take your foot off the brake.

Then you just ride the machine through the soap, the water, and the huge wipers. Letting go of your control in your car is so much harder than you expect. You can't see where you are going, so your immediate instinct is to brake or to steer, but you can do niether. (When there's a car in front of you, it's even worse!)

While I sat praying I wouldn't wreck into the car in front of me, I realized that walking with Jesus is a lot like Bubbles Car Wash. I need to let go of my control over the situation and allow Him to steer me in the right direction and get me clean in the process.

It's so funny how God can use mundane things like a car wash to teach me new things. He's good that way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Kat is a normal teenager. She has a crush on a cute guy. She has family issues. Oh, and she’s a jewel thief…a thief who just pulled off a major heist. In this second novel, Kat and her team are off to steal one of the most famous jewels of all time, the Cleopatra Emerald, and return it to its rightful owners. When things go wrong in the operation, Kat must correct her mistakes and out-con one of the most notorious cons of all time.

Ally Carter is my favorite young adult writer. In a YA market that is saturated with novels about snobby girls, vampires, and girls who care only about boys, her writing stands out. Her characters are smart, independent young girls who have more on their plate than boys and clothes. (The innocent romance storylines add to the story without overtaking the main plot.) The characters are unique, and the plot is interesting and fresh (unlike a lot of authors who seem to take what’s hot and recycle storylines).

I sometimes wish Ally Carter would write faster because I want to read more of her books, but every time I read one of her books, I understand why it takes so long. Her books are just worth the wait. The plot flows, and each detail is planned and carefully executed.

If you haven’t read Heist Society, the first book in the series, check it out. You don’t have to read the books in order, but it does help. Also check out Ally’s Gallagher Girls series. It’s just as awesome for teens and adults alike.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stuck in the Middle Giveaway!

I'm behind on my reading, so I don't have a new book to give away today. Instead, I'll give away one of my personal books that I enjoyed. If you haven't read this series by Virginia Smith, you need to check it out. I love stories about sisters (maybe because mine is so awesome)! To enter, just leave a comment about your sister, why you wish you had a sister, why you are glad you don't have a sister, whatever. Please keep in mind that I have read this book, and it has slight wear. I only ship to the US. Also, once I email you that you've won, you have a week to send me your address, or I'll pick another winner.

Congrats, Michelle, for winning Springtime of the Spirit! :) I'll mail your book soon. I think this is the second time you've won...lucky girl!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride

In a time when women were expected to “stay in the kitchen,” Ida Sinclair defies tradition by moving to Cripple Creek, Colorado, to become a businesswoman. When she arrives, she is hired by Mollie O’Bryan, who is a successful woman in a man’s world. Ida soon thrives but finds herself balancing her ethics with her ambition. Enter Tucker Raines, a preacher who must give up his career to run his family’s business. Can two ambitious entrepreneurs find time for love?

This book is my first book by Mona Hodgson, but it won’t be my last. I am a character-driven reader, and this book is full of unique characters whose stories need to be shared. Ida is a strong, fierce woman who strives for something more than is expected of her. Even though women today are equal to men in the workforce, female readers will identify with the need Ida has to prove herself and her worth to those she loves. The minor characters are intriguing. Abraham, the young boy who always has a joke, adds a layer of humor to the story. (I’d love to see what happens with him when he’s grown.) Otis, an African-American, faces some discrimination as he serves as a faithful employee to Tucker. His story could stand alone in a book. Willow is a young woman who broke down mentally after her husband’s death. Her story adds to the development of Tucker’s character, but it’s also an interesting topic on its own: how mentally ill people were treated then in comparison to now.

I did not read the first book in the series, but I did not feel lost in this book. I do plan to check out the first book, and I hope Mona writes more about the characters in this small town.  Overall, I thought it was a fantastic story with wonderful characters and a strong plot that sparks discussion. Too Rich for a Bride would be a great book club read.

I was given this book free of charge by the publisher. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you have a second, please rate my review at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/reviews/view/10371

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Springtime of the Spirit Giveaway!

Today, I am giving away Springtime of the Spirit by Maureen Lang. Keep in mind that I did read the book, so there's a little wear.
To enter to win, just leave a comment with your email address. I can only ship to the US due to budget expenses. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Congrats to CC who won Too Rich for a Bride. I'll email you today.

Remember, I give away a book every Tuesday, so come back and visit.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's Not About Me by Max Lucado

Even though science has taught us that there are other galaxies beyond ours, that our sun isn’t even the brightest star, and that our existence is just a mere vapor, people still believe that life is about them. It is this belief that destroys families, communities, and even countries. In a society that is me-driven, how do we keep ourselves from becoming self-absorbed and therefore inactive and ineffective believers? Max proposes that when we get to know God through His Word, we can finally see ourselves and our position in life: to be mirrors of Christ, bringing Him honor and glory. As we come to know God, we realize our existence is for him, our abilities are for him, and even our suffering is for Him. For His Glory. For His Name.  There were several truths that spoke to me in this book.

1. A God-centered life works, and it saves us from a life that doesn’t.

2. God has one goal: God.

3. When hard times come, people often say, “Life is short—get out.” God says, “Life is short—stay in.” Endure suffering. Eternity is worth it. “The brevity of life grants power to abide, not an excuse to bail.”

4. If life is just a moment, can’t we endure for a moment? Sickness for a moment. Poverty for a moment. Sickness for a moment. Loneliness for a moment. Isn’t eternity worth it?

5. His plan—born in eternity—will withstand any attack of humanity.

What I like most about Max’s books is that every single idea is backed up by scripture, which is presented in a loving but firm way. The Bible says that the Word is a two-edged sword. It cuts and yet brings healing.

At the end of the book, there are study questions, which make this book an excellent book for a Sunday school class or a small group. I hope it challenges you as it did me.

I received this book free from Booksneeze for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts are my own.