Thursday, January 31, 2013

Miraclulous Journey of Edward Tulane: A Review

How could I serve as an elementary librarian for three years before finally reading this book? It's amazing. Rabbit Edward Tulane is proud: proud of his beautiful real porcelain skin, his expensive clothing, and his real rabbit fur ears. When he falls overboard a ship, he begins a beautiful journey from owner to owner, finding out what it means to love.

The slow, easy pace matches the slow discovery Edward makes. Children will like the short chapters, each one about the next owner. Some are sweet, some are funny, and some are quite sad, but each one touches Edward and the reader alike. The pictures are beautiful and add to the story.

Kids and adults alike will enjoy this tale.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This week I'm giving away a copy of Short-Straw Bride. To enter to win, leave a comment about something...trying to think of a topic to go with the title and coming up with nada! I've been in a book funk the last week or so, not finding much to grab my attention. So, you could leave me a book recommendation.

To get a second entry, follow the blog and leave a second comment letting me know you follow.

I'll pick a winner next week. I can only ship to the US. Be sure to leave an email address so that I can contact you.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Know a Book is Amazing!

Here are a few signs that a book is amazing.

1. You stay up all night to read the book. By itself, this isn't the lone indicator of a terrific book. I've often stayed up way too late just to get through a book to see what happened, not necessarily because it was great.

2. You think about the characters for days or even weeks later.

3. You read all 142 reviews on Amazon just to see what strangers thought of the book.

4. You comment on random people's reviews just to talk about the book since your friends and family quit listening to you ramble about the characters, the plot, and the setting. 

What else is a sign of a great book? What books do you recommend as "Can't Put It Down" novels? I'm in need of some recommendations. I've started a ton of books the last week and only finished a couple. They just aren't catching my attention. 

Echoes: A Review

When Lauren's fiance chooses New York over her, her brother Brad comes to visit, bringing her a computer. He sets her up with an email and shows her a chat room for God lovers where they start talking to KC. Over the next year, Lauren and KC exchange emails and build a friendship. When their meeting doesn't happen, will it take a God-ordained encounter to bring these two together?

I love Robin Jones Gunn, and the Glenbrooke series is my favorite by her. Although this book is old as far as technology (keeping the publication date in mind will help explain why Lauren is clueless about the Internet), the book is still a sweet read and I love the idea of Lauren and KC getting to know each other through letters over a long period of time. The connection with Robert and Elizabeth Browning is nice too and prompted me to re-read some of my favorite poems by the two.

It's also nice to catch up with the other characters from the previous two Glenbrooke books. You don't have to read the books in order, but that probably would help.

Fans of Robin Jones Gunn will enjoy this book, and Christian fiction lovers should check out the entire Glenbrooke series.

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

Please take a minute to rank my review.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lucky Fools: A Review

At Oak Fields Prep, students are expected to attend top-notch universities like Stanford, which can be seen from the school parking lot, but all David Ellison wants to do is attend Julliard and purse an acting career. When new girl Vanessa wins the role opposite David in the school play, he begins to fall for her...despite his relationship with long-time girlfriend Ellen and the need to focus on his audition to Julliard. Will he be lucky enough to get everything he wants?

I liked this book, but it could have been much more. Instead of ending with a deeper sense of himself or the world, David seems pretty much the same, but perhaps that was the author's point. I also thought that while the characters, especially Vanessa's brother, were well-written and authentic, there were some random things thrown in like a lawsuit (that's randomly dropped), a few "friends" who pop in and out without a purpose, and no finality with David. 

On the flip side, I couldn't put it down, so despite a few set-backs, this is an engaging read with a few twists I didn't see coming (audition, Vanessa, and The Artist). 

Fans of YA will enjoy this book, especially those wanting a book from a male POV. I would have rated this a five-star if there had just been a little more closure at the end. 

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Congrats to Liz for winning Against the Tide. Today, I'm giving away Unending Devotion. To enter to win, tell me something you are devoted to. I'm devoted to myself. It's sad. I feel lately I'm very selfish with my time..always wanting to do what I want to do instead of serving others. 

To get a second entry, follow the blog and leave a second comment that you do.

I can only ship to the US.
Be sure to leave an email address.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Double Crossed: A Review

What's next, Ally Carter? In this short story, Macey, spy in training, is held hostage at a social event along with Hale, thief extraordinaire  Although they don't know each other, they soon rely on one another to get out alive and to steal the diamond before the thieves can. 

Although this is just a short story (thanks for giving it to us free), it is done with the traits fan come to expect from Carter: action, precise plot, and a little bit of fun. 

After finishing it, I couldn't help but wonder what's next? Fans know Gallagher Girls ends with book six, so is Carter hinting at what's to come? A Macey series? Gallagher Girls showing up in future Heist books? A totally new series? I can't wait to find out.

Fans of the either series will enjoy this short story, and fans of one series will want to check out the other after reading about Macey and Hale. 

Come to the Table: A Review

In the second book of the SouledOut series, readers catch up with Kat and her friends right where the first book left off. Kat is still tutoring at the school and passionate about eating healthy. When she helps out at a food pantry, she decides SouledOut should help feed the hungry. Will her zeal push people aside or draw them in to truly feed the hungry?

I did read the first book in the series and enjoyed it. I know Kat is abrasive, but I could feel her passion for her topic shine through her immaturity in the first book. However, after a few chapters in, I thought it was time for Kat to grow up, and she does. By the end of the book, she's a changing (not yet completely changed) character who is learning how to match her enthusiasm with love and patience on people and on God's timing.

Some other things I liked: the realistic writing about a situation with a guy and three girls (and a kid) living together an the implications on Nick's character as he serves as an intern at the church. I also love Nick in general. He's sweet and a good balance to Kat. I enjoyed Rochelle's story and felt that the feelings she develops for a certain guy in the book were well-done. 

What I didn't like: the constant reminders about each character's race. I found this annoying and one of the reasons I quit reading this author's last series. I LOVE that the author chooses to write about many cultures. I go to a church that is diverse and serves black, Hispanic, and white members equally. I guess that's why it bothers me because I live in a diverse atmosphere both personally and professionally (librarian at a school), and I don't get the need to point out a person's race every time they are mentioned. 

Overall, fans of the YaYa Prayer series will enjoy this second book in the series. Fans who were annoyed with Kat in book one should give her another chance. She gets better by the end of the book. 

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

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Clouds: A Review

Reading a Robin Jones Gunn book is like catching up with old friends, and this one is no exception. Shelly and Jonathan were childhood best friends who fell in love in high school. After graduation, an argument leaves them to find their own ways, apart from each other. Now, five years later, Shelly moves back to her parents' house and old memories come flooding back. When a chance encounter halfway around the world brings them back in contact, is this a sign they are meant to be? 

I love the little town of Glenbrooke and how the cast of characters from the series intersect in each story. As a reader who loves to find out what happens after "the end" of a story, it's nice to see old characters pop up in a new story, letting readers know how they are doing. 

The best part of a RJG novel is the soft layering of spiritual truths. Many Christian fiction books come across preachy, but with Clouds, readers discover more about God right along with the character. Shelly's story is authentic and well-developed as she finds the best love of all, Jesus, in a new way. She and Jonathan are sweet characters, and I love the development of Shelly's relationship with her sister, Meredith.

Fans of RJG will love this book. If you haven't read her books, the Glenbrooke series is the place to start!

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

Please take a minute to rate my review. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vanished: A Review

Product Details
Moira is a reporter who focuses on facts. When she hits someone standing in the middle of the road and is left unconscious by a Good Samartian, she becomes frustrated when there's no evidence of what happened and no trace of both people she encountered that night. Determined to find out what happened that night, Moira goes to a private investigator, Cal. Will they discover love in addition to what happened that night?
Irene Hannon starts off her new series with a bang. The characters are interesting and well-developed, the action is fast-paced, and the mystery is intriguing.
I enjoyed Moira and Cal's backstories and struggles and felt that the suspense didn't override the characters as many suspense novels do.
I loved the characters of the PI firm, and I look forward to reading their stories in the rest of the series.
Hannon is quickly becoming one of the top Christian suspense authors, and this book is further evidence of that.


I took a few weeks off from the giveaway, and I'm so ashamed to say I still have two books sitting on my dresser to be mailed. How sad is that? I am so sorry. I had planned to mail them, but then the holidays came and I was sick. :(

So, I will mail them. I promise. Please forgive me. 

Today, I'm giving away Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden, which is a great book. The book deals with opium addiction, so to enter to win, leave a comment about your favorite "good" addiction. Mine is that when I have an author I love, I have to own all their books. And, they have to be next to each other on my bookcase even if I never read them again.
To get a second entry, follow the blog and leave a comment that you follow.
Make sure you put your email address so that I can contact you.
I can only ship to the US.
I'll pick a winner next Tuesday. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Secretly Smitten: A Review

Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble
In a follow-up to Smitten, author friends Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter offer another glimpse at the sweet town of Smitten. This time, three sisters are on a mission to solve the mystery of their grandmother's first love, who was thought to be dead many years before. Will they solve the mystery and find love along the way?
Love Between the Lines: Coble starts the book with Tess, who is determined to find clues about how her grandmother's old beau's dog tags ended up back in Smitten. The search leads her to Ryan's attic. It's a cute start with two people who like each other but think the other couldn't be interested. Cute food incidents too.
Make Me a Match: Billerbeck's character Zoe is a match-maker who is setting up her love connection business if pesky city manager William will just let her bend a few rules. Billerbeck showcases her talent for chick-lit with her novella, once again reminding fans she's the best at witty dialogue and fun characters.
Knit One, Love Two: Hunt shares the girls' mother's story despite her reluctant involvement in solving the dog tag mystery. When Anna expands her quilt store to raising her own sheep, she takes Michael up on his offer to help. This one is as cute as the others. I love that a range of age for romance that Hunt adds to the group.
Love Blooms: Hunter solves the mystery with the story of Clare, an independent yet scared landscaper. When new-to-town nomad Ethan starts helping at the nursery, Clare has to face her fears of starting her own business and about falling in love. I loved Clare's independence and Ethan was my favorite male character, which made this my favorite of the four novellas.
Secretly Smitten is a fun, fast read with sweet romances. Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy a trip back to this quaint town. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The First Gardener

This has to be one of the saddest yet encouraging books I've read in a long time. Governor Gray London and his wife Mackenzie struggled for ten years to get pregnant, and their little girl, Maddie, now five, is the center of their world. When tragedy strikes, they lose their faith and their way. Can the gardener remind them  that no matter how dark the winter is, spring will come?

This story will tear at your heart. The first tragedy happens, and just when you think Mack and Gray will have a break from the hurt, another tragedy strikes. And the messy aftermath is handled perfectly by Jones, who does a wonderful job capturing her characters, from the depressed Mack to the quirky old ladies who add laughter to balance the tears. 

The characters are developed slowly but deeply, and my favorite of all is Jeremiah, the old gardener, who loves the London family and ministers to them faithfully through flowers. The twist at the end regarding Jeremiah brought tears to my eyes, and the theme that God owes us nothing and each thing we have is a blessing straight from Him is one that will stay with me.

Although this book is a switch from her fun Savannah series, this is a book I recommend to any of both Christian fiction and those who just like a good story.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Swimming to the Surface: A Review

Product Details

Kelsey Mitchell gave up on happily ever after when her husband abandoned their family to follow his call to ministry in a foreign country. Now, she is working hard to support her two kids, but when her daughter gets sick, she meets Alex, a pastor who is different than the church that supported her abusive husband. Together, will they find faith they need to swim to the surface?

This book is a lot different from Kristin's normal chick lit, and I believe it's a story that needs to be told. Many Christians become boggled down in rules and traditions that they forget compassion and grace. Kelsey's battle from being a wallflower who put with abuse to a strong woman is compelling.

I loved the characters and felt they reflect the church, ranging from the pastor who is more concerned with numbers and offerings than people to the little old lady who knows everyone's business and loves them all. My favorite was Meagan, Kelsey's daughter who is feisty and full of the faith Kelsey lacks. 

This is a partial spoiler. Skip if you don't want to know pieces of the plot.


The only thing I found odd was Todd's "friend" Simon. It's hinted that he and Todd may be gay, and then he shoots someone. It just didn't gel in my mind. It got the plot going a different way, more towards gay men (or women) marrying in an attempt to cover their sexuality and detracts from the real story---the church taking the side of an abusive husband in the name of scripture.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Firefly Island: A Review

At 34, Mallory Hale has given up on love and decided to focus on her career as a congressional staffer. At least that's what she tells herself. When she meets Daniel Everson on the capitol steps, it's love at first sight. After a fast relationship and quick wedding, she follows him and his adorable son to Moses Lake, a small town in Texas for what should be a quiet life until it's not. Will Firefly Island hold the answers?

I'm a huge Lisa Wingate fan, and I have enjoyed the other Moses Lake books. This one isn't my favorite because I sometimes felt disconnected from Mallory's relationship with why she loved him in the first place. When I take him out of the equation, the book was fabulous. I love the mishaps Mallory finds herself in (rodents, ants, a house falling apart) as she transforms from a single city woman to a stay-at-home country mom. The mystery was steady and well-developed. 

Just like the other Moses Lake books, the heart of the book is the community that holds secrets but ever-so-interesting characters who can be found at the bait shop or riding around in the lake under the cover of night to help Mallory find out what's hiding on Firefly Island.

Wingate's fans will enjoy this addition to the series, and readers who haven't checked out her novels should add them to their must-read lists. 

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

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Right Where I Belong: A Review

When her father's third marriage ends, Natalia swears off love. Instead, she decides to leave Spain to go America with her soon-to-be ex-stepmother, the one who first told her about Jesus. Florida brings unfamiliar culture, a new school, and a pastor's son who is funny and loves Jesus just as much as Natalia does. Will she find that love might just be right where she belongs?

This is the third book I've read by McGee that mirrors a Biblical narrative, this time Ruth's story. Although I love the story of Ruth, this was my least favorite by McGee, and I feel that's because I wasn't crazy about Natalia. She just felt under-developed and sometimes boring even though she has a great back-story. I never really cared about her the way I did the other characters. 

Despite the weak heroine, the story is still a cute, fast read. I loved Brian. He's better developed than Natalia and seemed more authentic. It was great to catch up with Addy from First Date. My favorite character was the sidekick Lexi, and I hope she gets a story soon. 

Fans of Christian YA will enjoy this God-centered book. You don't have to read these books in order, but it would probably be helpful. 

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

The Next Target: A Review

After her husband is murdered, Austia continues his mission: leading Muslims to the truth of Jesus. She starts through English classes, and when one of her students who converts to Christianity is killed, Austia becomes the next target. Unsure who to trust, will Austia be able to save herself and the young mother who needs her help?

This book is full of suspense as readers know who Austia can trust even though she's still in the dark. The action was fast, and the characters well-developed. The idea of public prayer calls was an interesting one, and the entire book was a spring board for discussion about religion in America. 

I don't know much about the Islam religion or its culture, but it seemed the author was knowledgeable about the religion and compassionate towards the women bound its clutches, which gave the story authenticity. 
At times, the author's feelings came through the pages as a little preachy as Austia lectured those around her about helping the women. 

Overall, it's an engaging read. I received this book in exchange for my review. My thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Short-Straw Bride: A Review

From the back cover:
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.

Years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.

Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

My Thoughts:
The Archer brothers are fabulous characters. This is the first book I've read by the author, but I hope she'll continue to write about the rest of the men in the family because they are standouts. 
Meredith is a good character as well, and I loved the development of her and Travis' relationship. 

I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story, including the way business was handled back then by having families marry to ensure the success of a business. I also liked the theme of putting up fences to keep yourself safe or to keep others out. 

Of course, you know how the love story will end, but it was a still a sweet read getting there with Meredith running off to solve things and finding herself in trouble, a little bit of action, and whole lot of swooning. 

Fans of Christian fiction will enjoy this story. 

Double Blind: A Review

Lisa Newberry sufferers from debilitating depression. After suffering several miscarriages, losing her husband, and being attacked, she can barely make it through a day. When a company promises to take away her depression with a brain chip, she jumps at the chance. To her delight, the chip works, but now instead of depression haunting her, she can't get the images of a murder out of her head, a murder she is determined to solve. 

This book will keep readers turning the pages to find out what will happen next. There are twists and turns on every page. I figured Lisa would solve the murder and that would be the suspenseful part of the book, so I was surprised by the twist about half-way through and continued to be surprised until the last chapter. 

I enjoyed Lisa's relationship with her mom. Often Christian suspense books will have a female heroine, but the handsome man will help her solve the case and they fall in love. While I like those, I enjoyed the mom-daughter relationship that was a major part of this book.

Fans of Collins' books will enjoy this book as it has all the things Collins does best: suspense, twists and turns, and a little bit of faith.

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

Favorite Books of 2012

I don't know how many I'll list, but these are the best books I read in 2012. After picking them, I realized my reading habits were more eclectic this year than in past years, but it's my goal in 2013 to vary my reading even more.