Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"The Captive Maiden" by Melanie Dickerson

I cannot even begin to explain how excited I was for the release of "The Captive Maiden"! In case you are unfamiliar with Melanie's last two books, "The Fairest Beauty" and "The Captive Maiden", they are the retold fairy tales of Snow White and Cinderella! And even though the books completely stand on their own, they are also intertwined, which is always exciting for us book lovers!

In "The Captive Maiden", Gisela's father passes away when she was just a young girl, leaving her in her stepmother's care. Unfortunately, her stepmother treats her as nothing more than a servant girl, and makes Gisela cater to her every whim as well as to her stepsisters. Gisela doesn't plan to stay with her stepmother forever though, and hopes to someday get away.

Meanwhile, while in town one day, she meets the Duke's handsome son, Valten. He doesn't know who she is, but invites her to attend the jousting tournament the next day. But will she be able to sneak out of her stepmother's reach to be able to go?

I really did enjoy this book so much! :) I love that there were a few little details that were a little different than the classic Cinderella story and I felt that it really made the story stand apart from most of the retellings. I also loved that Sophie and Gabe from "The Fairest Beauty" were brought into this story!

Melanie Dickerson has definitely made a fan out of me, and I will continue to read her lovely books!

I rate this book as 5 stars. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review of The God Puzzle by Valerie Ackerman

It was truly a delight for me to review "The God Puzzle" by Valerie Ackerman this week. I loved the bright illustrations and the way the author pieced together each lesson.

Throughout the 36 lessons in "The God Puzzle", children learn the answers to the ideas they question most! What is sin? What is Baptism? The lessons were kid-friendly and were explained by two friends, Theo and Christy.

While we love our children's programs at church, my husband and I feel strongly that we need to teach our children about Jesus in our own home as well as what they learn at church. I think far too many people are under the impression that their children get their Jesus "fix" in the small amount of time they attend church, but we realize as parents that this is simply not enough. We need to teach our children about Jesus everyday. As our youth pastor explained in church last week, we need to use everyday moments for teaching moments. Every experience we come in contact with can be a teaching moment for our children.

I feel that "The God Puzzle" is an excellent resource to hone in on those everyday teaching moments. Even if it's just half a page that you make it through, it's still making an impression on your child and still so very worth it! My 7 year old daughter and I both thoroughly enjoy reading through these lessons! I think this will become an essential book in our homeschool studies next year for third grade!

I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion. I rate this book as 5 stars.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review of Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

If you are looking for a new fantasy series, look no further. "Dragonwitch" by Anne Elisabeth Stengl is book 5 in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, and is probably one of the most interesting Christian fantasy books I have read. There is much depth to it though as it is not a "light" read. Be sure to have plenty of time to devote to this book before you begin.

Lady Leta follows her father's wishes and travels to the Gaheris Castle to meet her future husband, whom she has never even met. Alistair, her future husband and future King of the North Country is not exactly her ideal husband. He is somewhat gangly and awkward and is very much different from his future wife.

But so much is going on at the castle. Much more than what Leta and Alistair ever imagined. Alistair suffers from horrible nightmares, and the Dragonwitch is on the hunt for the sword that slayed her twice. Only one person can wield the sword and no one is safe until the Dragonwitch is slayed yet again.

I feel that if I had read the previous books and gained a better understanding of the back story, perhaps I would have loved this book, but instead I was left just liking it. It was a very compelling book, full of interesting characters and a wonderful story plot, but it did take some getting into once I started it. At times, I found myself confused with the many different characters, and again, it probably would have helped to read the previous books, which is my fault and not the author's.

I think this is a great Christian Fantasy series and I am eager to go back and read through the rest of the books! I rate this book as 4 stars!

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ragamuffin Bible with devotionals by Brennan Manning

This week, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing "The Ragamuffin Bible- Meditations for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Brokenhearted with Devotionals by Brennan Manning." There is so much that I love about this Bible! I was especially drawn in by the title because I'm sure at one point or another, we have all felt similar.

The Bible itself is a NIV (New International Version), which is one of two versions that I typically read. The second being NKJV (New King James Version). I love reading these versions of the Bible because I feel that they are closest to the way the Bible was initially written so long ago. In the short amount of time I have had this Bible, I have not read it in it's entirety, but I did read through the entire chapter of Zechariah.

As for the look and feel of the Bible, it is a hardcover that includes a dust jacket, but yet it is still pretty lightweight. I was thankful that the size of the words on the page are somewhat larger than in my regular Bible, now that I need to use my glasses on a daily basis. The chapters and verses were easy to navigate and altogether very lovely with the setup of the devotions.

Throughout the entire Bible, there are devotions available. Most of them take up about 3/4 of the page and have a suggested Bible reading. In between these devotionals, are small "Reflections" which include just a small devotional (think 2 or 3 sentences) along with a Bible verse.

I really enjoyed reading through the Ragamuffin Bible, and I will continue to use it as one of my main Bibles. I will highly recommend it and I give it 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"The Christmas Quilt" by Vannetta Chapman

This holiday season, I had the wonderful privilege of reading and reviewing "The Christmas Quilt" by Vannetta Chapman! It was actually the first book of hers that I had read, but after I finished it, I immediately searched for more books by her! 

Annie and Samuel are busy as can be as they make their rounds to all of the sick people in their community, while still making time for each other and family and friends. It's Christmas time and Annie and her best friend Leah are both pregnant with their first boppli (babies). Amish do not believe in using medical technology unless absolutely necessary, but Leah's midwife is sure that Leah is carrying twins! It is even more special because Annie and Leah are actually sister-in-laws because Annie and Leah's husband, Adam are siblings! 

Everything seems to be going perfectly as the families prepare for the holiday season, but one night Leah wakes up to an excrutiating pain in her belly and must be transported to an Englisch hospital. 

While there, Leah learns that her body is trying to go into labor even though it is much too early for the babies to be born. The doctors must keep a close watch on her at all times, which makes it necessary for Leah to remain in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy. Annie accompanies her on this trip as her support system, as Adam cannot leave the farm for that long. While there, Annie continues to work on her baby gift to Leah, a baby quilt. While in the hospital, Leah finds out so much about herself and what God is trying to show her through these trials. 

I think this was a lovely story and definitely a fantastic introduction to Amish fiction for me! I found it very hard to put down and finished this book in a matter of only two days! I love the family values and wonderful sense of community that was portrayed in this book. I also loved that the character's relationship with God was an essential key to the story. From what I understand about the Amish, they do not like to focus on material possessions and do not believe in the help of medical technology if it is not necessary. I found the author's description to be tasteful and very well written! I rate this book as 5 stars and will definitely read it again! 

I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review of "Catie's Secret" by Laura Allen Nonemaker

One day Herbie and Bella were busy playing and eating breakfast in God's Secret Garden, when they met Catie Caterpillar. Herbie immidiately began teasing Catie, and making fun of her for her appearance. Bella reprimanded Herbie and told him it was time to go. But before they had a chance, their Uncle Benny, mayor of God's Garden arrived. He told the children that he had heard some things that weren't so peaceful. Uncle Benny goes on to explain that there are many secrets in God's Secret Garden. Like the robin's egg that turns into a baby bird, and the acorn who turns into a tree.

The children quickly learn that someone's outward appearance is not the only one that matters. After a few days, they see Catie again, but this time she is a beautiful butterfly. The children see that their Uncle Benny was right all along and that Benny had said some unkind things. When they saw Catie again, Herbie apologized for teasing her.

I thought this was a fun read that included important morals and values for a young child. I would recommend this book for a new reader, or 5 to 6 year old. I think this book would also be excellent to use as a lesson for a Sunday School class. I think that while younger children (4 and under) may not be able to read this book, many will understand the story and concepts.

The back of the book includes questions you can ask your child after they are finished reading. The questions include questions such as "Has anyone ever teased you? How did you feel?" and "How should we treat someone who looks differently?"

Also included in the back is a small page of Butterfly facts, which is fun for any kid!

I was pleasantly surprised to read the back cover and see that there is a free audio version of the book available to download online for free.

All in all, I think "Catie's Secret" is an adorable book that children will love! I rate it as 4 stars!

I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review of Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

A love story with a little bit of mystery and it's set in Hawaii? I think yes!

Laney Carrigan has always wondered about her birth mother. After being adopted as a small infant, the only clue she had about her birth mother was a handmade quilt that the Carrigan's found her with on their doorstep. After Laney's adoptive mother died and her adoptive father remarried, her father urged her to find out more about her past. They searched online to no avail, until her father decided to include a picture of her baby quilt. Within 24 hours, they had a response. Her birth family was in Hawaii.

Within weeks, Laney flew out to meet her family. She met her Aunt Teah, Cousin Elyse, her Tutu (Grandma) Mily and a handsome cowboy named Kai who was adopted by Teah. She was disappointed to find that her mother was not alive. Not that she missed her, but that she had some choice words for her. But there was something that Auntie Teah was keeping from her. What could it be?

Laney forms a quick bond with Kai as they both seem to be struggling with the same things. But can he surrender his past in order to make way for the future? A future with Laney? Laney doesn't know.

I found Aloha Rose to be a fun quick read! It definitely kept my interest...I read through it in only 2 days! In some spots at the beginning of the book I found it a little hard to follow. It was when the author was still introducing the characters, which were quite a few. So I got mixed up a few times, but after a few chapters I got the hang of it. I also thought it was fun how the author introduced a bunch of Hawaiian lingo into the book. I think this definitely gave the book some character and I loved it! There was also a glossery in the back of the book explaining what each Hawaiian word meant.

To find out more about Lisa Carter, visit  http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/quilts-of-love-the-christmas-quilt-and-aloha-rose! Make sure to enter to win a Kindle Fire while you're there! :)

Ultimately, I loved this book. It will be a book that I will read again and again just for a fun read! I rate it as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review of "A Confident Heart Devotional" by Renee Swope

This week I had the privilege of reading and reviewing "A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself" by Renee Swope! This is an awesome devotional, especially for anyone who has ever dealt with negative self talk. Each day contains a key Bible verse, a story or small snippet to read, a prayer and a "I say...." but "God says...". There are 60 days' worth of devotionals to read through and most of them range from 3 to 5 pages.

There is also an index in the back to help you keep track of the key Bible verses and the "I say..." but "God says..." points.

I think my favorite part of the whole book were the "I say..." but "God says..." telling me what God says about the lies I tell myself. How we say that we are not worth loving and God says that we ARE worth loving. Along with each one of God's promises, is a Bible verse showing us where to find it in the Bible.

Essentially, we are speaking God's truth into our lives. Which is so important, especially when we read them aloud. I remember going to a class called "Life Skills" years ago and they often spoke about the importance of doing just that. Reading God's Word aloud helps to eliminate the negative feelings and lies that the world tells us about ourselves, and helps reitterate God's promises to us.

I think this is a wonderful book, and is excellent to read not as just as a devotional! I rate it as 5 stars!

Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a divison of Baker Publishing Group.
*I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased review.*

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review of Adventure Bible Handbook!

"The Adventure Bible Handbook" by Robin Schmitt & David Frees is sure to be a new favorite in your household of 7-12 year olds...at least it is in mine! The book itself actually says it's for 9-12 year olds, but if you have a good reader like my 2nd grader, they will get just as much out of it!

The book is basically a big comic book where the main characters go back in time to over 70 Bible stories! They also share important tidbits about the characters and the places they visit, which I feel make the story come to life for a child. Also included are various maps which give great examples of where the stories took place, a Bible reading guide, The Apostles' Creed, Scripture Index, Subject Index and Image Guide.

In no way do I think this book should replace a child's Bible, but I do believe that it is a fantastic way for a child to learn about God and the Bible. This book introduces a fun way of learning with colorful pictures and fun characters, that my 7 year old just loved! She has been taking this book to bed every night and reading it with daddy before bed.

I would highly recommend this to children 7-12 years of age, boy or girl. I initially wondered if it was too boy-ish for my little girl, but she quickly reassured me that she loves the book and continues to read it daily! I rate this book as 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review of "Still Lolo" by Lauren Scruggs

I recently heard someone say that to really grow as a person, you must read biographies. After reading "Still Lolo" by Lauren Scruggs, I know exactly what that person meant. Reading biographies helps you to develop empathy, love for others, and helps you to grow spiritually.

Before reading this book, I am sad to say that I had never heard of Lauren Scruggs. I don't watch the news, and I'm not up to date with the news online or on facebook.

In December 2011, Lauren got into her friend's airplane to see the Christmas lights. It was nice weather out, and Lauren was never one to shy away from anything. She was usually very bold and adventurous. But for some reason, that night Lauren was unusually nervous. She remembers sitting in the airplane thinking that the airplane was going to crash, or just this surreal feeling that something bad was going to happen. The plane landed and everything was fine. She couldn't believe how crazy she had been for worrying. But the instant she stepped off the airplane, everything changed. It was very dark that night, and instead of heading towards the house she walked straight into the plane's propeller. After that, everything went black.

The book goes through her recovery, and how she felt after losing her left eye and hand. She describes all of the emotions she went through and how her faith in Jesus got her through the toughest times.

I loved the fact that this book was not mainly just about the accident. It went back and forth between dealing with the aftermath of the accident, and her life growing up. Although she had been a Christian for most of her life, her life was far from easy. Her parents split up when her and her twin sister were just small children. Her parents did the best they could and actually co-parented very well spending lots of time with the girls together. The girls prayed everyday that their parents would get back together no matter what the odds were against them. When they were around 11 years old, their parents got back together! The girls knew that they truly experienced a miracle.

I loved this book. I loved that I was glued to it from the very first pages. (I read the book in only two days!) "Still Lolo" is actually written by Lauren's whole family. Many of the chapters will say they are written by either Jeff (dad), Cheryl (mom) or Brittany (sister). Needless to say, I will highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I absolutely think that this is a book that can reach a multitude of people and really make a difference. I rate this book as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers to give my honest unbiased opinion.

To see some of the beautiful work by Lauren Scruggs, check out her online magazine called Lolo Magazine.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition by Catherine DeVries

This weekend, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing "Adventure Bible Storybook Deluxe Edition" by Catherine DeVries! Not only does the Deluxe Edition have an adorable Bible perfect for little ones, but also a cd which tells each of the stories.

The Bible is full of beautiful illustrations and pictures that drew my children in from the first page. The stories are easy to understand and are an appropriate length for a small child to be able to sit through.

I was also extremely impressed with the cd that came with the Bible! The stories are told with different voices to highlight each character in the story. The audio clips are also relatively short with most of them ranging from two to four minutes.

We took the cd in the car with us one night on the way to church, and our girls (ages 7 and almost 2) were fascinated. They loved the stories with all of the different characters. After we got to church, my almost 2 year old kept talking about the "baby crying!" from the Moses story. I think this is an amazing product that appeals to children in a variety of ages. I definitely rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Saturday, October 12, 2013

"He Wins, She Wins" by Willard Harley Jr.

I have always felt that "His Needs, Her Needs" by Willard Harley Jr. should be required reading for marriage. I now feel the same way about his newest book, "He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation."

At some point after your wedding, the honeymoon phase will end. And there will inevitably be fights between you and your spouse. But learning how to end up with a win/win agreement can be tough. When a couple is dating, it is normal for one of the individuals to give sacrificially when it comes to agreeing on something. They may give up what they want because they are still in the romantic stages of their relationship. But eventually this phase will end. And when it does, spouses tend to be more selfish with what they want. Suddenly the win/lose agreements they have been making this whole time seem much less appealing and the spouse begins to seek out their own desires versus making their spouse happy.

Willard Harley Jr. explains how to negotiate with your spouse and end up with a win/win agreement every time. He also points out the types of negotiating that are harmful to your relationship. In addition, we also read about the importance of the Love Bank and how important it is to have 1,000+ deposits in your spouse's love bank.

I would highly recommend this book as well as his previous book, "His Needs, Her Needs."

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.

**He Wins, She Wins will be available October 2013 through Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review of "His Treasure" by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Imagine receiving a love letter from your heavenly Father. Imagine God telling you that you are worthy to Him, you are His treasure, and that He loves you more than you could possibly imagine. That's exactly what you'll find in these pages. 

Sheri Rose Shepherd has written us beautiful love letters from God based on what God has told us in His Word. These letters range from Encouragement, Comfort when we're discouraged, and Faith to conquer our fears. 

First of all, the first thing I noticed about this book was the beautiful illustrations! The pages are filled with photos of beautiful flowers, antique keys, strings of pearls and breathtaking gems. Many of the pages are made to look like old parchment paper...something fit for a King. 

Second, the words Sheri has written are just beautiful. She has paraphrased Bible verses of what our Heavenly Father has said in His Word. She makes it easy to understand. I think so many of us look at God as a Father who is stern and ready to punish us for our sins. But this is not the case! God shows us this in his Word. He shows us that He is a loving, merciful and forgiving God. He weeps when we weep and cares so very much for us. 

Also, and this is somewhat off topic, but I love the dedications in the beginning of this book. Sheri dedicates this book to Mother, her Step-Mother, Spiritual Mother and her Mother-in-Love. I just love the way she says Mother-In-Love. I think it gives an insight into the character of this author. That she can recognize that she has another mother, not just by law, but by Love. I have always wanted this type of relationship. I just think it is beautiful and says a lot about her as a Christian woman. 

I absolutely love this book! I love that it is small and compact despite the fact that it holds so much content. I would love to see girls of all ages reading this book. Teenagers, young mothers, middle age women and elderly women. These words are beautiful truths and they come from God Himself. 

I rate this book as 5 stars.

*I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers to give my honest unbiased opinion.*

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review of "A Man Called Blessed" by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

Ok, anyone who knows me knows that I will jump at the opportunity to read a Ted Dekker book! Like many others of his books, this book did not disappoint!

"A Man Called Blessed" is the sequel to "Blessed Child", but it is also a stand alone book. You do not need to read "Blessed Child" first, but it will definitely help you with the background of the story.

In "A Man Called Blessed" we again meet Caleb, a grown man now instead of the orphan child he was years ago. He is back at the rebuilt monastery in Ethiopia that he knew so well while growing up. But Caleb has been struggling to connect with God. He can't seem to grasp the same child-like faith he once did long ago.

In the midst of this, turmoil is occurring all around him. Caleb meets an Israeli soldier named Rebecca who is searching for the Ark of the Covenant, and he finds himself embarking on an incredible adventure.

Just like many of the other Ted Dekker books I have read, I loved this story! The only thing I disliked about this book is that we really don't find out what happened to Caleb's adoptive parents, Jason and Leiah except for a few tidbits about them. I would have liked there to be more references to them. But it is still a great read and a book that I will definitely recommend!

I rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Born from the Heart by Berta Serrano Review

This week I had the privilege of reading and reviewing a lovely children's book called "Born from the Heart" by Berta Serrano! Considering that my husband adopted my oldest child, and the fact that we would love to adopt in the future, I love children's books based on adoption!

Charlie and Rose want so desperately to have a baby. They go visit their doctor, and he gives them the special recipe to create a baby. And so begins the long process of Charlie and Rose's baby growing in Rose's heart.

In "Born from the Heart", Berta Serrano paints a beautiful picture to children of what adoption is, and how family is not just the people who are biologically related to you. The book was clear to understand and fascinating for my 7 year old and almost 2 year old. They loved the adorable illustrations to go along with the story! Once I finished the book, I was amazed to find that the illustrator was also Berta's brother! I think it's wonderful when families can get together and create a beautiful masterpiece such as this book!

I think adoption is always a hard subject to speak to children about. Children may not always understand the family dynamics or even why they were adopted in the first place. This book shows the perfect love that a parent has for her child, even if that child did not grow in her womb, but in her heart.

I highly recommend this book to anyone considering adoption, or who has completed an adoption in the past. I rate it as 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Sterling Publishing Company to give my honest unbiased opinion.

 
Born From The Heart, book trailer from Sterling Publishing on Vimeo.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Return to Me by Lynn Austin

"Return to Me" by Lynn Austin follows the biblical story of Iddo, his wife Dinah, and their descendants. As a young child, Iddo was forced out of Jerusalem after watching his family suffer horrific deaths. Throughout most of Iddo's life he has lived in Babylon under pagan rulers. Now after 50+ years, King Cyrus has decided to let God's chosen people return to Jerusalem. Iddo couldn't be happier!

But this decision brings turmoil to Iddo and Dinah's family. Their sons and daughters have established lives in Babylon. They have strayed from God these last few years. Dinah is heartbroken when she faces the thought of leaving her loved ones behind.

Iddo and Dinah's oldest grandchild, Zechariah is just on the brink of becoming a man as he is turning 13 years old. Iddo suggests that Zechariah make his own decisions regarding whether he should stay in Babylon or go to Jerusalem. Zechariah is torn between what God wants and what his father wants, but ultimately listens to God in the end.

I absolutely loved this book! I loved the way Lynn Austen researched the Bible verses and gave her best interpretation of the story! This is only the first book in the Restoration series, but now I am eager to read the rest of the books!

I think the author did a fantastic job in piecing this story together based on what information we have in the Bible. I loved it and rate it as 5 stars!

I received this book for free through Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First Date by Melody Carlson

I love reviewing young adult fiction, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to read First Date by Melody Carlson! Most of the young adult fiction I read is aimed at ages 13-18 and I would say that this book definitely fits that category. 

The story centers around 5 teenage girls who have formed their own clique at their school despite the fact that they are not especially fond of all of the members. The girls: Devon, Abby, Brynn, Cassidy and Emma all come from unique backgrounds and family styles. 

Devon's parents separated when she was young and she has a track record of being wild and irresponsible. Abby is the only daughter of a racist African American family who is very vocal about the fact that they disagree with an African American dating or marrying a White person. Brynn has a great family life, but since her older siblings have all moved away to college or have gotten married, her life feels empty and lonely. Cassidy has grown up in a Christian home her whole life, but lately has been feeling far away from her faith. She doesn't really know where she stands with "religion" or how she feels about sharing her Christian faith with her non-Christian friends. Emma's parents just recently divorced, and she lives with her mother while she struggles to make ends meet. 

Devon and Emma used to be close friends, but after Devon moved away a few years ago, Emma grew closer to Cassidy. When Devon moved back to town, she was eager to share her dating advice and created a dating game/club called "The Dating Games". The goal of the game was for each girl to help another girl find a date for the homecoming dance which was only 3 weeks away. They had 10 rules for the club which varied between "Helping other DG members find "good" guys" to "Not being jealous of a fellow DG member's boyfriend." The girls all agreed to the rules and began "working" on guys for their friends. 

Despite the fact that all of these girls go to a Christian school, throughout most of the book, none of these girls are living a Christian lifestyle. All of their decisions are made primarily based on social status, good looks and their ability to "snag a guy". All of the girls in this book were fairly shallow, excluding Cassidy. The characters were quick to point out the other girl's flaws regarding their appearances, and even gave 2 of the girls makeovers because they felt that no guy would ever take a second glance at them without highlights in their hair or brand new clothes. 

The girls all end up with dates for homecoming, and have a great time. All except for Devon, who finds herself in a bit of a problem because of the type of guy she has chosen. At the end of the book, the girls discuss shutting down the DG club or whether they should continue. All of the girls decide they should continue in the club, and even announce that they should start looking for different dates for the Halloween party. 

It seems The Dating Games is exactly that. A big game. I don't mean to sound harsh to the author. As a writer myself, I know how difficult it is to write a good story. But this would not be a book I would allow my daughters to read. The story was just so superficial and shallow. The girls were so self centered and dating was just a big game to them. This is not how I want my girls (or sons if I ever have one) to think about dating. I want them to focus on the personal qualities of their future mate. Not how expensive their clothes are or whether or not they have colored hair and wear makeup. 

There was little or no spiritual content at all in this book except to say that Cassidy was a Christian, and that Devon "used to be a Christian." I would expect a Christian young adult book to have quite a bit more spiritual content. 

I am sorry to say that I was not a fan of this book. I rate it as 1 star.

**This book will be available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.** 

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris

"Dangerous Passage" by Lisa Harris is a murder mystery with a touch of love and romance.

Avery North is a a detective who is struggling to balance her life at work and still find time for her teenager daughter. It's difficult for her to balance the two because her job seems so intertwined into every aspect of her life.

When two murders occur to two Asian women with magnolia tattoos, Avery already has her mind made up that she is going to solve this case. All Avery can think about is that those girls could have been her daughter.

Throughout the book, Avery enlists the help of the medical examiner, Jackson Bryant to help with the case, meanwhile falling for him.

It is quickly evident from the beginning of the book that Avery is dealing with a lot of issues. The problem of balancing her life at home and at work, the unsolved mystery of the death of her brother, the thought that she could ever make time for a boyfriend in her life...these problems only scratch the surface of Avery's life.

I thought this book was pretty complex with all of it's different issues, but I really loved it! I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard that it was a book about a detective solving homicides, but it's not gory, or gruesome at all. It's very tasteful, and actually a very interesting read! It was definitely a page turner, and once I started I found it difficult to put down! I am eager to read the second book in this series!

To find out more about the author, Lisa Harris, visit her website: http://www.lisaharriswrites.com./Welcome.html

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

**Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Overextended....and loving most of it!" by Lisa Harper

I found "Overextended...and Loving most of it!" by Lisa Harper to be a lovely read!

Lisa shares stories from her own personal background, and how it shaped her into the person she is today. After watching her parents get a divorce, she experienced heartache at a very young age. She grew up knowing her biological father loved her the best way he could, but often times he didn't know how to express it, and she was left feeling abandoned by him.

Lisa goes on to share her struggles with failed adoptions and the heartbreaking reality of having "her" baby taken away from her, and finally the joy she experiences at the adoption of her precious HIV positive baby girl from Haiti.

I think Lisa Harper has an amazing way with words. From the very first chapter, she had me giggling right out loud. And then at other times, I was in tears over the agonizing pain of her failed adoption of her precious baby Anna Price.

This book is a beautiful blend of happiness and sorrow, and I think given the right opportunity, Lisa and I could be great friends...a kindred spirit.

I will happily recommend this book to others and I rate this book as 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Surprise for Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher

Lily Lapp is back with another adventure in book four of "The Adventures of Lily Lapp" book series!

"A Surprise for Lily" is full of twists and turns...Some exciting and some sad. A new pet, Hannah moving away, the death of a loved one, and a secret!

Even though "The Adventures of Lily Lapp" are meant for children, I love these books! Lily is a fifth grade little girl growing up in an Amish family. She deals with all of the same problems children face everyday, but with a more simplistic touch.

My daughter is only a second grader but she already loves hearing about Lily Lapp and her adventures! We also have the third book in the series, "A Big Year For Lily" which we also loved!

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of The Little House on the Prairie series. "The Adventures of Lily Lapp" are very reminiscent of those books, and are a lovely read! I rate this book as 5 stars!

To find out more about this book series, please visit the Suzanne Woods Fisher's website.  http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

When Lainie packs up and leaves her ex-boyfriend, she plans to make a fresh start in El Paso. But when her car breaks down hours away from her destination, she is forced to stop in Last Chance. With no job and no car, she is left to depend on people she doesn't even know. People who are kind, caring and compassionate. Something she's never experienced, especially from strangers.

Lainie doesn't know what to think about Last Chance. Does she want to stay in a place where everyone knows her business? Or should she move on to the big city of El Paso so she can get lost in the crowd? Amidst all of these feelings, Lainie is terrified that her ex-boyfriend will come and find her. She's spent too long trying to get away from him.

I thought this book was a sweet summer read! I loved Lainie's character...her ability to see her past relationships for what they were, and her sense of cautiousness in her new relationships.

The Christian themes in this book were not heavily portrayed, but I really enjoyed the way it was written.

I would highly recommend this book and give it a rating of 5 stars! I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

**Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The One Year Princess Devotions

This week I had the privilege of reading and reviewing "The One Year Princess Devotions" which is aimed at preschool age girls! With two little girls in my house, I knew this book would soon become a favorite!

This book is a year long devotional beginning on January 1st and ending on December 31st. Each day's devotion includes "Royal Words", "Princess Thoughts", "A Prayer For The King" and "Princess in Action".

"Royal Words" is the key Bible verse for the day. Most of the verses are fairly short and are one to two sentences. Perfect for toddler/preschool age children!

"Princess Thoughts" is the summary of the lesson. This is also relatively short at four to five sentences. It's long enough to get the message of the story across, but short enough that my 20 month old can sit on my lap and listen to the whole story. Perfect length in my opinion.

"A Prayer For The King" is a short heartfelt prayer created for a child to understand. It is usually a request to ask God to help your child to live in such a way that would be honoring to God.

And finally "Princess in Action" is a combination of different activities to do with your child, and steps they can take to follow Jesus.

All in all, I think this is a fabulous book for little girls! I love the Princess theme, and the short lessons which are perfect for the littler ones. My only complaint is that I would love for there to be more colorful pictures included. I would still rate this book as 4 stars.

I received this book for free through Tyndale Publishers to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox

When unfairly fired from her job as a governess, Melanie Ross is forced to find employment elsewhere. But where can she go? She has no family except for an uncle living in Arizona. She hasn't heard from him in months, but he did say that if she ever needed anything, she had a home waiting for her there and would be able to help him in his mercantile.

Upon arriving to Arizona, Melanie learns that her uncle has passed away and a man named Caleb has been busily running the mercantile. The problem is that he also believes he lays claim on the shop.

Will the two of them be able to work together to make the mercantile successful? Or is it a disaster in the making?

I thought this book was a fun mix of love and mystery. I did appreciate the light Christian undertow of themes even though they weren't heavily addressed. If you are looking for a light summer read, this is the right book!

I received this book for free through Bethany House to give my honest unbiased opinion.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

Life for Lily has changed so drastically in the last few years. First the death of her husband, then her daughter moves away to college. Now her mother tells her that she has a twin sister in Australia?

Lily's relationship with her mother is strained to say the least. They have never been a close knit family, and Lily's mother always had abusive tendencies in her relationship with Lily. Now that Lily is a grown woman, her mother admits a secret that she has been holding for 40 years. Lily has an identical twin sister. The how's and why's are not explained. Her mother refuses to speak of it anymore. So Lily is forced to take matters into her own hands and search out her lost sister. The only information she has is a city and the name of a church in Australia. Will it be enough to find her?

Winter in Full Bloom is a lovely story of love, forgiveness and family relationships. I was hooked from the very first page! I would love to see a book like this be made into a movie. The characters, the story line, and the spiritual elements are all excellent. I rate this book as 5 stars and would definitely recommend it to others who love a good Christian novel!

I received this book for free through Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion!

She's Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp

I love reading a great parenting book and this book was no exception! While this book is aimed at mothers of teens and preteens (ages 9+) I gathered so much valuable wisdom from it's pages! My oldest is now only 7, but after reading this book, I feel like it gave me a great insight as to what to expect in the years to come. Not only that, but many ways to prepare my daughter now for the obstacles she will face in her teen years.

Kim addresses many of the issues that teenage girls face and struggle with, and also lists many ways to help us as parents guide them to make the right decisions. Body image, peer pressure, spiritual growth and boys are just a few topics addressed in this book.

At the end of each chapter is a challenge to get involved with your daughter in the form of an activity together, or having a heart-to-heart conversation.

I would highly recommend this book to parents of girls of all ages. I think Kim's advice is greatly beneficial and I feel like I've gained a wealth of knowledge just by reading this book! I rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Runaway Emotions by Jeff Schreve

Do you ever wonder why God allows us to experience certain emotions? Loneliness, worry, frustration, anger...These are only a few of the emotions discussed in this book. Jeff Schreve dives deep into the reasons we experience these emotions and what God wants us to do about them. He shares stories of people in Bible times and how they handled their emotions.  

Throughout this book, we read about Jeremiah as he struggles with frustration, Jonah as he battles with anger, David when he is overpowered by his guilt, and many others. We also read about many present day folks who have also struggled with these age old problems. Many people who have dealt with depression have grown to have full and happy lives. We see examples of that in famous presidents, pastors, and lawyers. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Although it's not what I expected, it's much better! I think everyone can relate to this book in some way or another. We all experience these same emotions and sometimes we wonder why we have to deal with them. I love that this book takes a closer look into what causes these emotions and how God wants us to handle them. I think my favorite chapters were "Worry" and "Frustration". There is so much excellent advice and words in those two chapters. I would highly recommend this book and rate it as 5 stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 5, 2013

Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen

Oh, I love a good young adult science fiction novel! And this book was certainly a page turner!

In the year 2250, there is only one lake bed known to still be in existence and it is underground. Once a year, Luca's father, the Deliverer, travels to the "Rats" below the city to make an exchange. This exchange ensures that the people who live above ground will have fresh water to drink for the rest of the year. Only the Deliverer is trusted with the perilous route to the Rats below, and he alone is the only one who will ever know, except for his descendants who will one day take his place.

Once Luca turns 16 years old, he learns that his time has come for him to take on the responsibilities of the Deliverer. His father failed to return from the exchange. The Deliverer knows the route forwards and backwards. Luca knows that it is impossible for his father to lose his way. Something is wrong.

Luca must face the truth that he has been lied to his whole life. The powerful Nine have been deceiving everyone. To find the answers that he needs, he will have to descend underground to the rats. He has known the route his whole life, but it suddenly seems more more menacing. Will Luca be able to descend and save the world before it's too late?

I loved this book from the very beginning! Much like many other YA fiction reads, the future is a messed up, dystopian society. I think these types of books are interesting because: a) we have not really experienced anything like this, so reading a story like this is good food for thought, and b) because I don't think our future is really so different from some of these themes. I really enjoyed this book, and I think it would be a fun book to discuss in a group setting.

I rate this book as 5 stars. I received this book for free from Zondervan to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Big Year for Lily

As a homeschooling momma, I am always looking for new and fun books for my little ladies to read! So of course, I was thrilled to see a children's book was available for review!

"A Big Year for Lily (The Adventures of Lily Lapp)" by Mary Ann Kinsinger & Suzanne Woods Fisher is a fun and adorable read for little girls! Lily is a 9 year old who is part of an Amish family. Life on a farm is always fun for Lily, but she is not enjoying school like she usually does. This year in school, Lily has had quite a bit of trouble with mean girls and bullies. And there is a particular boy who loves to pick on her. But lucky for her, she has a Mama and a Papa who love her very much, and help her to navigate through these lessons.

I actually enjoyed reading this book quite a bit even though it is a children's book. Maybe that's because I loved reading the Little House on the Prairie series as a child, and this book reminded me of those. "A Big Year for Lily" will definitely be on my daughter's reading list for this school year. On Goodreads, it says that this book is aimed at 8-12 year old girls, but I think if you have a little one who loves to read, it could be read by a 6 or 7 year old. I would love to read the rest of the books in this lovely series!

I think little girls will love reading all about Lily and her best friend Hannah, and will be able to relate to a lot of the same things that Lily goes through. I rate this book as 5 stars!

*I received this book for free through Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.*

Available July 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anomaly by Kristen McGee

First of all, I was super excited when I saw this book was available for review! Science Fiction is definitely my favorite type of book, even if it is young adult fiction! This book reminds me so much of the Hunger Games trilogy yet it is still so different at the same time.

"Anomaly" is set in the future after the surface of the earth was destroyed by nuclear war. There were 10 remaining scientists alive at that time, who made a new world under the surface of the Earth and called it "The State". But the Scientists thought that our old ways of life were primitive. They learned they could create "humans" on their own and genetically alter their DNA so that the Scientists alone determined their strengths and weaknesses. They completely eliminated love, anger, and many other feelings and emotions that they deemed unnecessary. That is, until Thalli was created. Now the Scientists are dealing with an anomaly. She shouldn't be able to feel love, and to feel emotions but she does. Thalli has been hiding these "anomalies" for so long, it's just a matter of time before she is found out. But what will happen when she is exposed? Her dear friend, Asta was taken away for just a slight anomaly and was annihilated for something so unimportant.

Suddenly, Thalli finds herself in the midst of dozens of tests performed by one of the great ten, Dr. Loudin. Dr. Loudin's soul purpose for performing the tests however, is only to test new theories and to learn enough to create humans without anomalies. Thalli is scheduled for annihilation at the conclusion of these tests. But then Thalli learns that she has a friend on her side. Berk, who has grown up alongside Thalli, is training to become one of the great ten and therefore has access to Dr. Loudin. He tries to convince the scientists that Thalli is worth saving...that she is valuable to them as a group. But will it be enough to save her?

During all of this, Thalli meets John, who is the father of one of the great ten scientists and who survived the nuclear war. John is a Christian and opens Thalli's mind to the idea that she was created for a purpose, even if she may not know what that is. Throughout the rest of the book, we see Thalli's faith grow more and more.

I found that the beginning of this book was a little hard for me to get into, but after 3 or 4 chapters, it began to get more exciting. After awhile, I found it hard to put it down, eager to find out what was going to happen next! I think it would be great for a book discussion because of all of the different elements throughout the book. I loved that there was a distinct Christian message played throughout the story despite the fact that none of the characters were created to know God.

I rate this book as 5 stars and can't wait to read the second book in this series! Luminary will be available July 2014.

I received this book for free through Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Chivalry" by Zach Hunter

"Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor in an Unjust World" by Zach Hunter is an excellent book for today's generation of young people. The Chivalry Zach Hunter is talking about is not your typical chivalry. This is not about holding doors open for women or even being a gentleman. It has more to do with what we as Christians can do to be chivalrous in an unjust and uncaring world. To be an honorable generation.

This book is divided into ten "codes" of honor that are based on some of the same codes of honor the knights followed back in previous generations. Hunter encourages readers to follow those codes which exhibit self control, honoring life, and more.

There is no study guide included in this book, but there is one available online. Also, I especially enjoyed the appendix at the back of the book which shares "How to's" to help implement the codes of honor you have just learned.

I would definitely recommend this book to others. I think it's a fantastic read for someone who is trying to find their place in this world, or even in their church. It would also be an excellent book to use for a Bible study or college age small group.

I rate this book as 4 stars. **I received this book for free from Tyndale to give my honest unbiased opinion.**

Monday, July 1, 2013

Small Town Girl by Ann H. Gabhart

This week I had the privilege of reading another book by Ann H. Gabhart! Small Town Girl goes right along with her first Rosy Corner book, Angel Sister. Although I have not yet read Angel Sister, this book was able to stand on it's own without having to read the previous book.

Small Town Girl is set in 1941, right when America was on the brink of war. Young men were being drafted left and right, and the future seemed so uncertain. Kate Merritt, the second of the four sisters, watches her oldest sister marry Mike, the man Kate has loved since she was just 15. But Mike barely knew she existed after setting eyes on her older sister, Evangeline. Everyone expects Kate to marry Carl, but is that what she really wants? Kate has grown up with him, but she doesn't love him and she can't see herself married to him.

But then Kate meets Jay Tanner, who just happens to be the best man in Mike and Evangeline's wedding. From that moment on, Kate can't forget about Jay. Mike says she shouldn't trust Jay because he's not good enough for her. He never stays in one place for too long, and Mike fears this time won't be any different. But will he stick around for Kate? Or will he be drafted into the war like the rest of the young men?

Ann H. Gabhart will pull you in from the very beginning of the story. This book is a sweet love story based on the historical events of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the war. The story was both suspenseful and exciting, and at times made me wonder what was going to happen next! I have definitely become a fan of Ann H. Gabhart's work and will not hesitate to read more of her books!

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.

**Available July 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate

I always love reading a fiction book based on a Bible story! Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate is written by Diana Wallis Taylor. I think it's interesting that there is only one small paragraph in the Bible that mentions Claudia, but the author has woven a beautiful story about what might have been. Diana has done her research though, and was able to pull together Claudia's family history and lineage which helped add to the story.
The story begins when Claudia is just 12 years old, and is taken away from her mother, grandmother and everything she has ever known. Her grandfather, Tiberius Caesar has sent for her to come live with him in his royal palace. Claudia's mother, Julia was disowned by Tiberius long ago for her wild behavior and must remain in Reggio alone though she is ill. The emperor requests that Scribonia, Claudia's grandmother deliver Claudia to the palace and then return to her own people.

Upon arrival to the palace, Claudia meets her maidservant Hotep who is close to own age. Though Hotep is a servant, her and Claudia soon become friends. Unfortunately, Claudia also meets Sejanus, Tiberius's royal advisor. She soon learns of all of the wicked things that Sejanus is capable of, and does her best to steer clear of him. Claudia has a few run ins with him and his wrath follows her for many years. Even long after her marriage to Lucius Pontius Pilate.

Although Claudia's marriage to Lucius was arranged, she clearly loved him. There was quite an age difference (she was 16 and he was in his thirties), but in those times, it made no difference. The story follows Claudia and Lucius as Lucius governs Caesarea, Judea, and Jerusalem, and the birth of their first child. We also read about what was going on with Jesus's teachings, and what happened after Lucius condemned Jesus to die on the cross.

This book was definitely an interesting read that I enjoyed very much! I like the thought that Claudia's story may have actually turned out this way. I think the author did an excellent job at portraying Claudia and Lucius and the emotions they both felt  as Lucius made his decisions. The author conveyed that Lucius was remorseful after sentencing Jesus to death, and that in a way, he did believe that the rumors were true about Jesus. That He really was the Son of God. She also closes the end of the book with a note saying how she did her research and that she found out that there is a `Orthodox church named for Lucius Pilate. She states that she would like to believe that meant that Lucius did eventually come to know Jesus and that he realized he had indeed been forgiven. I would like to believe that also.

I rate this book as 5 stars and I think it's safe to say that this is a book I will read over and over again.

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.
This book will be available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

"The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby" by Erin Macpherson

This week I had the privilege of reading and writing a review of "The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby" by Erin Macpherson. First of all, NO I am not pregnant. :) This just looked like a good book and since I hope to actually be pregnant someday soon, I thought it couldn't hurt to read up on pregnancy a bit even if I have already done it  2 1/2 times.

Second of all, if you are looking for a book chock full of medical advice written by a medical professional, look elsewhere. With that being said, I still LOVED this book! I felt that most of Erin's advice is spot on with what I have experienced in my previous pregnancies. Yet she does it with such humor that makes you laugh right out loud while reading. I'm sure I received some strange looks from my husband!

Erin shares her humorous and completely accurate depiction of gaining weight, morning (or in my case, ALL DAY) sickness, mood swings, labor and delivery, and so much more. She shares the ups and downs of every trimester and what to expect in each one, what you do and don't actually need for your baby, and my personal favorite...what your husband is probably thinking while you're busy growing into a whale.

Throughout the chapters, you will also run across Erin's "Time-Out for Mom" sections. Each "Time-Out" is complete with Bible verses to help deal with every current pregnancy woe, and prayer to go along. I think this is a great idea, and will probably be posting these on my wall next time I'm preggo as reminders that I will make it through!

This was the second "Christian Mama's Guide" that I have read by Erin Macpherson, with the first being "The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler". She also has two other "Christian Mama's" guides available called "Baby's First Year" and "Grade School Years", both of which look excellent. So I will sum this all up to say that I think these guides are fabulous and now I am eager to read the rest! I rate this book as 5 stars and will definitely be recommending it to all of my pregnant friends!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax

"Clear Winter Nights: A journey into truth, doubt, and what comes after" by Trevin Wax is quite an interesting book, but definitely not light reading material. It's a short fiction story based on theology that really dives deep into the questions that all of us Christians face.

Chris Walker thought he had his whole life figured out. After just finishing college, Chris was about to help plant a new church alongside his fiance when he suddenly began having doubts. About his fiance, about his beliefs... about everything that was important to him. On top of that, Chris's grandmother passes away and a relative reveals some life changing family secrets about Chris's father.

After Chris's grandfather, Gil suffers a stroke, Chris's mother suggests that he go stay with his grandfather for a few days to help him out. But instead, Gil ends up helping Chris. As a former pastor, Gil can help his grandson answer his questions about God.

Trevin Wax is an author of multiple books and posts on a popular blog called Kingdom People. He is also editor of a small group based curriculum being developed by Lifeway Christian Resources.

I received this book for free from Multnomah Waterbrook Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion. I rate it as 4 stars.

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Life in Chapel Springs hasn't been the same for Madison McKinley ever since her twin brother, Michael died 10 years ago. Perhaps what haunts her the most is that the cause of his death has always remained a mystery. Eager to end the nightmares, Madison is determined to sail in the regatta in her brother's honor and to win and fulfill his only dream.

Her plan is to learn to sail with Evan Higgins, longtime winner of the regatta, but when an emergency arises for Evan, Madison is left with only one option. Sailing with Beckett O'Reilly, Chapel Spring's very own bad boy and the son of the town drunk. But what other choices does she have? The sooner she wins the regatta, the better. She can't bear to lose any more sleep to the nightmares that cloud her dreams.

Beckett is also apprehensive about teaching Madison sailing lessons, but for his own set of reasons. He'd had a crush on Madison McKinley for as long as he can remember, but he never stood a chance with her. Beckett knows she would never want to date someone with a past like his. Even though he had turned his life around and become a Christian. But it was too late. She would never want anything to do with him if she really knew the truth about him.  

I don't want to give away too much of the story, but it was actually packed with a lot of twists and turns! I liked how the author really dove into Madison's spiritual life. There were times when Madison's faith was at an all time low, but then the reader gets to experience her journey back to God and a renewal of her faith. 

I also loved the plot of the story. I used to read a lot of Nicholas Sparks' books but I couldn't stand the inappropriate elements of the books. Denise Hunter has written a beautiful story here that is equivalent to any Nicholas Sparks book I have read but without any hint of inappropriateness. This is a book I could read over and over again, and will definitely recommend to friends. I can't wait to read more of Denise's work! 

I loved this book and will definitely give it 5 stars! 

**I received this book for free from Litfuse to give my honest unbiased opinion.**


Saturday, June 8, 2013

"That Certain Summer" by Irene Hannon {Review and Book Giveaway!}

Val and Karen are two sisters who have never gotten along. Maybe it's because they were so different, or maybe it has something to do with their mother's constant negativity and comparing one sister to the other. Either way, the girls have never been able to quite place why they were always at odds, but they find that this summer they have to work together whether they like it or not.

Karen has always been the faithful daughter, answering to her mother's every beck and call. All the while placing her own happiness on hold and doing whatever she can to make her mother happy. Val ventured out on her own at a young age and never looked back. Karen never could understand how Val could just leave everything behind and forget everything she ever knew. When Val learns she has to return to her hometown for the summer to help care for her mother, she is reluctant. Of course she wants to help her mother, but there are too may memories there that she has worked hard to forget. Maybe now is the time for her to face memories and regrets once and for all. Once she returns home though, she realizes it's not going to be as easy as she imagined it would be. 

Meanwhile, Karen is dealing with her own set of problems. An ex-husband, a teenage daughter, and now the church choir director? Her ex-husband cheated on her more than once. How could she ever trust him again? She yearns to do what's best for her daughter, but how does she know what that is? And how is she supposed to discern her feelings for the new choir director, or what those feelings mean? 

Can the two sisters work together for the summer and get along?

This is the first book that I have read by Irene Hannon but I really enjoyed it! There is a bit of a twist to the story that I didn't anticipate when I started the book, but began to figure it out halfway through. The chapters alternate between four different points of view. A little bit different from books I have read in the past, as most of those shift between two or maybe three points of view. However, it was easy to follow along to, and it kept my interest. I rate this book as 4 stars! :)

**Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion.

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