Friday, May 31, 2013

Perfecting Kate by Tamara Leigh

When I requested this book for review, I had never heard of the author, but I thought I would give it a try. But this book turned out to be somewhat of a "fluff" read. Nothing of deep substance. In fact, this book is mainly about a lonely 29 year old girl who is obsessed with the way she looks, her inability to have children and the fact that she can't seem to find a boyfriend.

The book is narrated by the main character, Kate Meadows, and the story line is a bit erratic. Kate is realistic in the sense that she has insecurities and everyday issues just like you and I. But her problems almost become obsessive at some points, and the subject of the book is about changing her outward appearance to like herself better. When she least expects it, Kate meets two eligible bachelors whom she is very interested in. But Kate soon finds out that while Michael (bachelor number one) is fond of her, he would also like her to make some "changes" about her appearance. Dr. Clive (bachelor number two) is also quite interested in Kate, but seems to spend all of his time working, leaving no time for a girlfriend.

All in all, the story did not keep my interest and I found it hard to finish reading the entire 404 pages. In my opinion, Kate seemed so self conscious that it became annoying. I can usually relate to the characters in the books I read, but I couldn't picture myself friends with Kate at all. I rate this book as 3 stars.

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

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

If ever I've read a classic love story, this book was it! A prince, a duchess and an ordinary southern girl from Georgia....a true fairy tale!

Susanna Truitt had a plan for her life. She had worked for years on her dream of being a landscape architect, and waited diligently for her boyfriend of 12 years to return from the Marine's in hopes of a marriage proposal. But all of those dreams shattered to pieces when Adam broke her heart instead of asking for her hand in marriage. He said he found the right ring but not the right girl. Susanna was devastated. Her plan was ruined. 

Shortly after, Susanna meets Nathaniel, a sweet foreigner who comes to her rescue on the side of the road. Their friendship quickly grows into a love for one another even though neither one will admit it. But unbeknownst to Susanna, Nathaniel is actually a prince from Brighton! After learning Nathaniel's true identity, Susanna begins pushing him away, insisting that their worlds are entirely different. Even if Susanna did move to Brighton to be with Nathaniel, it would be against the law to marry him. 

After the passing of Nathaniel's father, Nathaniel is forced to return home to assume responsibility of King. Susanna was stunned to learn that she had been invited to his coronation. Surely King Nathaniel wouldn't abdicate the throne for her sake? But what other reason would he have for inviting her? Will Susanna go to the coronation? 

I absolutely loved this book from the very beginning! It's truly a classic love story. Perhaps a little predictable at times, but the last few chapters did leave me guessing up until the very end! I also loved that this love story is based on Christian principals and includes many Bible references and prayers. Quite a bit different from most secular love stories, but I would feel completely comfortable letting my daughters read this one! :)

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

Check out the other reviews on this Blog tour!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad

After the death of both of her parents, Hannah Gregory is left to care for her two younger sisters, Charlotte and Tessa. All of her dreams of becoming a lawyer seem so distant now after financial problems force her to drop out of law school. She notices an advertisement in the paper for a "Hello Girl" to connect phone calls, and immediately begins training. But Hannah has never been one to follow the rules, and there seems to be quite a few rules that go along with her job. Will she be able to follow orders for her sisters' sake?

Meanwhile, Western Union employees have been on strike, resulting in several explosions around the city. Hannah is horrified to learn that her good friend Walt has been falsely accused of the crimes. Walt's mother begs Hannah to represent Walt in court, but Hannah knows she can't do it on her own. Against her better judgement, she seeks out the help of Lincoln Cole. The man who took away the only home Hannah and her sisters had ever known. But she will swallow her pride if it means helping Walt. She certainly would never have expected falling for Mr. Cole.

I thought "When Love Calls" was a sweet love story wrapped up into historical fiction. It kept my attention from the very beginning! I rate it as 5 stars!

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookstore from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group!

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

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

There are multiple reasons I loved this book, but probably the most dominant being that the author was just so REAL.

I think what I appreciated most about this book was the author's ability to be raw. She speaks about her own personal insecurities and struggles, while sharing her passion for life. Cooking. I wasn't sure what to expect when I requested this book from Booksneeze. Looking at the other reviews, I knew it wasn't a cookbook, but it sort of is to some degree. Shauna shares her favorite recipes adapted from popular chefs and cook books, which she has critiqued, experimented with, and made her own.

I was a little apprehensive at first to try some of the recipes Shauna has shared. I am not an experienced cook by any means and the thought of making some of these dishes was quite daunting. I actually have just begun to enjoy cooking after 10+ years of preparing food. But Shauna has this ability to make it look so easy. She includes her favorite recipes of Mango Chicken Curry over rice and Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce...among many other recipes.

But much more than just sharing recipes, Shauna shares her life. She and her husband open their home to share their lives and food in a way to connect with friends, family and everyone they know.

I thought this book was very well written in more ways than one, but I did find one key element missing. Her faith. Shauna mentions prayer every now and again, but at best it is usually a plea for help or longing for a request to be fulfilled. What the author failed to share was a personal relationship with God. Prayers that offer praise and thanksgiving, instead of just requests. At one point in the book, Shauna shares a particularly traumatic event that included her 10 day old son. She shares her prayers to ask God to heal her son...basically a mantra of "please heal my baby" over and over again, and how her good friend told her to pray to Mary because Mary is the Blessed Mother. Upon her exit of the hospital, she passed a statue of Mary and nodded her thanks to the statue for her son's healing.

Of course the name of the book "Bread and Wine" should give a little insight into the contents of the book, but I really did not expect so much reference to alcohol. I suspected that the title had more to do with The Last Supper or something along those lines, but that was not the case. My husband and I are born again Christians and we personally abstain from drinking alcohol.

This being said, I still feel that there were many positive elements in this book and I rate it as 3.5 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bedtime Stories and Prayers Children's book!

I love reviewing children's books, so I was super excited when this book became available for review through Tyndale. My girls get equally as excited as they love books just as much as I do.

Bedtime Stories and Prayers: Blessings for bedtime is written by Dandi Daley Mackall and Kathleen Long Bostrom, and is illustrated by Elena Kucharik. It's part of the Little blessings series for young children, but this bedtime book includes four short stories included in this one book. The stories included are Bedtime Blessings, Thank you God, Blessings Everywhere and God Loves You. I usually see this particular series as small board books, so I was pretty excited when I opened the package to find this large book!

I just have to say that I loved the illustrations in this book. They were absolutely adorable and the children were somewhat reminiscent of Precious Moments characters. The stories are nice and short with little writing on each page or every other page. I have a 6 year old and a 17 month old and both of them sat on my lap enjoying the stories. My 17 month old almost made it all the way through the book before she needed a break, which is saying quite a bit for such a young child. She loved the colorful pages filled with children, nature and animals. I can easily see this book becoming a bedtime favorite in our home. 

I also loved the values that this book instills in their simple and short stories. Thankfulness, Creation, Prayer, Blessings, God's love and His forgiveness of our sins were just a few of the topics mentioned in this sweet little book. 

I would highly recommend this book and I rate it as 5 stars. My girls also give it 5 stars. :) 

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

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This weekend I had the pleasure of reading "Sweet Sanctuary" by Kim Vogel Sawyer! This was the first book I have read by this author, but I was immediately a fan. The first chapter was a little difficult to get into as the book doesn't really begin with the beginning of the story, but I quickly caught up with the second chapter.

Lydia Eldredge will do anything to keep her little boy, Nicky safe. Even if it means "illegally" caring for him without his father's knowledge. Lydia has kept her secret for so long, but she fears that Nicolai Pankin, Nicky's biological father will eventually find out about Nicky's whereabouts and try to claim him as his own. Lydia knows the truth though, that Nic has no intentions of keeping his little boy. In Nic's eyes, Nicky is only a pawn to attain more of his "magic dust" to feed his addiction. Lydia searches for a way to legally claim Nicky as her own, but she fears that in doing so, Nicky will be removed from her care. There must be a way for her to keep her little boy.

Lydia eventually recruits the help of Micah Hatcher, an old friend from her days of working as a nurse in Oahu. Micah is surprised by a letter he receives in the mail from Lydia's father asking for help regarding Nicky, and quickly travels to Boston to speak to Mr. Eldredge personally. Although he was skeptical about seeing Lydia after all of these years, he quickly falls in love with this little boy that they are trying to save. He soon heads back to his hometown in New York, only to find his thoughts drifting back to Nicky...and Lydia.

Micah and Lydia keep a frequent correspondence during the next couple of months, and search out every possible avenue for keeping Nicky away from Nic. Lydia is amazed by Micah's strong faith and begins seeking out her own personal relationship with God. She learns that while hers and Nicky's lives may not go as she planned, God may have bigger plans in store for both of them. A life much better than she could have ever hoped for.

I found this book to be easy to read, and once I began, I couldn't put it down! I found myself relating to each character, rejoicing in their successes and grieving with them in their trials. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Lydia, Micah and Nic, so you really get the full effect of what each character is facing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker

Last night I stayed up until 3:00 am finishing Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker. Saying it's a page turner is an understatement. And although I'm a huge fan of Ted Dekker, I found this piece of work to be a bit.....disturbing? True, Dekker is known for his adrenaline-laced plots, battles between good and evil, and the ability to go where no one else dares to go. And this book hit the mark on all of those levels, but still. Perhaps I should explain.

There are two main characters in this book, Father Danny Hansen, a priest; and Renee Gilmore. Danny grew up in Bosnia and watched as his mother and sisters are killed by the hands of men who claimed to be doing the work of God. Danny later joins the Bosnian militia before moving to the United States.

In America, he feels as if God has called him to be the judge and jury for what Danny considers "scum". The wife abusers, pedophiles, and the politicians who are more concerned with covering up their own indiscretions than acting as a voice for the people. The list goes on.

Meet Renee Gilmore. Abandoned and abused by her parents as a young girl and addicted to heroine as a teen. She was rescued by a hero named Lamont when she was in her early twenties, on the verge of death. Lamont was her savior, taking her into his home and caring for her. But there is more to the story than meets the eye and Renee will have to face the reality of everything she has blocked out of her memory.

Suddenly Lamont goes missing, and Renee knows the truth. That Jonathan Bourque, the shady man that Lamont worked for, had killed him.

As an act of revenge on Renee's part and Danny's willingness to help Renee, they seek out Jonathan Bourque in an effort to rid the earth of the "scum" and to accept what may come. But all is not what it seems, and Renee is forced to face her past.

I think what I found most disturbing about this book was that as the reader, you were inside the head of a killer, a person with severe mental illness who felt justified in taking another's life. It was tough to read, with the characters justifying their actions and making excuses for why it was okay to act upon their sickness.

I still remain a huge fan of Ted Dekker even though I didn't care for this book!