Thursday, November 15, 2012

American Patriots

I'm not going to lie I was VERY skeptical when I received this book because emblazoned on the back cover was a big ol' endorsement from Glenn Beck. I don't think of myself as a giant liberal or anything but Beck inspires fear and disbelief. Putting aside my obvious dislike for a reviewer I cleared my mind and launched into Rick Santorum's second novel (It Takes A Family was published in 2005).

American Patriots is a beautifully written collection of twenty five accounts of real life American heroes from the Revolutionary War period. Their heroic feats aren't widely known and were it not for this book most Americans would never know of their great deeds. They may have been virtually unknown but their stories remind us of what determination and fearlessness our country was founded on.

This book is small and compact and will take no time at all to read. It would make a perfect gift this Christmas for the history buff or ardent patriot in your family. It's a great addition to any collection. A great and inspiring read.

I received a free copy of American Patriots by Rick Santorum from Tyndale Press in exchange for this review.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

God of All Creation

God of All Creation is an insightful and inspirational little read about the lessons we can learn from pets and wildlife. James Robison uses his little doxie, Princess, as a way to illustrate our relationship with God. Each chapter is a short story using Princess or some other animals in the wildlife to help us understand the mysteries and complexities surrounding God's love and care for us. Who knew that stories about chasing cars, not heeding master's call, and responding to sound could have such biblical parallels.

It was a fast and cute read, although after awhile I was like, "I get it already! Sometimes I'm no better than my own pets when it comes to following God's plan and love." Some of the stories and lessons started to become a little repetitive and redundant. It was a clever book and insightful but it's not one you would ever want to read over and over.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Press in return for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek

I love it when I find something that I swear I'm going to hate and it turns out to be a real gem. The Widow of Saunders Creek by Tracey Bateman didn't sound all that appealing to me at first. I hear widow and I start thinking about sappy romances and God's true calling, etc., etc. Thankfully, this story had a lot of depth and added witches, seances, spirits, and demons to the plot.

The story follows Corrie, a widow of six months (her husband died a heroic death in the military) as she moves out into the country to live in the house that was her dead husband's grandparents. After his untimely death he left it to her, stirring resentment in the family because they wished it had been given back into the family, not given to a widow who had no kids and no further ties with the family. Despite some negative vibes she decides to move in hoping it will somehow make her closer to Jarrod's (her husbands) spirit. Little did she know she would be getting just that wish.

Doors slam close, paintings get re-arranged, sounds are heard and Corrie quickly becomes convinced that her husband is indeed in the house with her. It doesn't help that Jarrod's eccentric family all agree with her. Crazy Aunt Trudy (a witch whose talents were given to her by God, hardy har har) convinces her to hold a seance to find out what Jarrod wants. The only one who doesn't believe there is a spirit in the house is handyman, Eli, Jarrod's cousin. He is hired by Corrie to fix the house so they start to see each other on a regular basis. Feelings start to develop between the two but Corrie gets mad when Eli tries telling her it's a demon inside of the house and not Jarrod. Tensions rise, the house gets spookier, and Corrie and Eli are confused how to proceed. Is Corrie ever ready to love again? Can she forsake her husband in death for his cousin?!

If that at all sounded interesting please read. Just a quick note for all my avid readers, this IS a christian romance although it isn't preachy (thank goodness) or too in your face. All in all I thought it combined a few different genres and did a pretty darn good job of conveying a spooky, uplifting, and moving story.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in return for my honest, unbiased opinion.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Night of the Confessor

I've been reading so much Christian romance these days that I thought I could honestly handle a heavy duty guide to Christian living and boy I proved myself wrong. "Night of the Confessor" by Tomas Halik was an interesting and thought provoking read, but very very hard to plow through. This book is definitely intended for the educated reader not just your average joe shmoe. I haven't read anything of this magnitude since my philosophy of religion class in my undergrad. That being said it wasn't a bad read, it was very insightful and well-written, just very heavy on the intellectual side (which isn't a bad thing!).

Halik addresses the challenges of being a good Christian in this day and age (having lived through political oppression in communist Czechoslavakia he is, shall we say, an expert in overcoming challenges) and what it takes to have your faith grow. By regularly partaking on confession and living by the two paradoxical statements from the New Testament ("For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible" and "for when I am weak, then I am strong") we can begin to cultivate a loving relationship with God and try to uphold our faith in this trying era.

Overall, a very good, thoughtful, inspirational book. Just not a light read, will definitely take more than one sitting.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beloved Enemy

Al Lacy's latest Civil War masterpiece, "Beloved Enemy," starts off slow but picks up steam and plows you right through it. Once I got into it I was hooked and couldn't put it down. My only regret is that I didn't know about the other books in the Battles of Destiny and started with this one instead of reading the other two first. That being said I had no problem following the story-line and I think my not having read the other two volumes didn't impede my ability to understand what was going on.

The story starts off following Jenny Jordan and her father as they get jobs in the White House serving President Lincoln. Jenny takes a job as secretary and her father Jeffery Jordan , a famous Mexican War hero, became a member of the Senate Military Committee. They start working at a hectic time as hostilities grow between the Union and the Confederacy. Jeffrey and Jenny felt torn as they were native Virginians and decided to stay loyal to the Confederacy by working as spies. Jenny's father would pass classified information he learned at the committees on to beautiful young woman who would then pass the information to the rebels by charming their way past Union soldiers.

Jenny becomes worried as father gets more involved with the spying and fears for her life. She becomes even more confused when she starts falling for a Union soldier. Her loyalties were all over the place.

The story isn't all about espionage and romance, in fact a good majority of the story is centered on the Battle of Bull Run and on the bravery of Buck Brownwell, Jenny's love interest.

It's a very compelling and historical read. I highly recommend this book, you won't be disappointed! If you even remotely liked "Gone With the Wind" then you will enjoy this short read.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Garden of Love

I was wary from the book from the start. Not because of the cover art or anything but because I'd finished reading another one of Jane Kirkpatrick's novels not too long ago and it put me in a depressed funk for days. Thankfully, I can say my wariness was short lived because this novel was much more upbeat and fun to read. 

The novel is loosely based on the Life of Hulda Klager, a German immigrant who raised lilacs and a family in Washington. Tending a garden started out as a hobby for Hulda but as she started cross breeding and hybridizing to make larger crisper apples she realized that she could apply that technique onto her flowers to create new beautiful specimens. Her ultimate goal was to breed a 12 petaled creamy white lilac, an achievement that would take decades of patience. Each chapter follows a character's train of thought, although Hulda's chapters are the bulk of the book. This style works well to voice how other's viewed Hulda's works and achievements and how they admired her. The book starts off in the late nineteenth century and continues all the way up to 1950. Hulda lived to be one old lady! She never had a degree in horticulture, but experts noted her worthy creations and soon began to seek her advice. A small passion turned into a national sensation.

Overall, even though I don't know a thing about flowers I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Getting to share in Hulda's joy as she creates new flower specimens, sees her daughters get married, and hears from famous horticulturists across the country is a wonderful experience. However, Hulda doesn't have a perfect life and it is important to share in trials as well as tribulations in this smashing read, "Where Lilacs Still Bloom." 

 "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Globe Trotting: A Perilous Affair

I'm not going to lie this book was depressing as hell. It starts off following a mother and daughter in 1896 as they make a 7,000 mile journey on foot across America in hopes of getting $10,000 to save the farm. From there nothing works out as planned, the farm is lost, Clara loses two siblings to diphtheria while she and her mother are trekking North America, and she learns some dark family secrets. All of this happens in the first fourth of the book. The rest is even more depressing as Clara tries to justify their journey, forgive her family, and find herself. It's based on a true story which in itself is even worse. The feat accomplished by Clara and her mother is impressive for that era and for now, God knows I couldn't/ wouldn't walk 7,000 miles. Unfortunately, the rift it causes in the family seems to negate any good that could have came from it. Read at your own peril.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King

What an excellent read!I couldn't put it down. I was just going to read a few chapters before bed last night and I ended up finishing it at 1am. This book addresses so many different issues. It goes over: the Vietnam War, depression, suicide, teen sex, pill popping, POW/MIA, family problems and more. The main character, a 15 year old named Lucky, is instantly relate-able and likable and you could envision being friends with him. His journey to come to terms with his crazy family (he refers to his mother as a squid and his father, a turtle) and his tormentor, Nader, is enlightening and entertaining. A must read for all!

I read this book for the SLIS YA Readers Advisory Book Club.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Truth PLAIN and Simple

Growing up I had never read an Amish romance, I can now say that I have officially read three. While they aren't my favorite, and they certainly aren't a genre that holds a spot on my bookshelf, every once in a while it's a little bit of a guilty pleasure to read something so far out of my usual reading pattern. Coincidentally, all the Amish "chick lit" I have read is written by the same author, Cindy Woodsmall. Her Latest work, "The Scent of Cherry Blossoms" follows basically the same story line as the last two of hers I read. This book isn't necessarily part of a series, its meant to be a stand alone romance but If you happened to read "The Christmas Singing" you'll notice that it takes place in the same town and some of the characters are the same.

Basically, a young Mennonite girl by the name of Annie goes to stay with her Daadi (grandfather) because she thinks her mother and brothers are straying too far from the faith. While in Apple Ridge with her grandfather, Annie helps out a local Amish family (the Zooks) run their diner while their crippled son, Roman, is away working on a distant relative's generator. Roman's twin, Aden, has always had a huge crush on Annie, and working in the diner together becomes too much for the both of them. Their romance however, is forbidden because Mennonites and Amish are not allowed to mix. If you want to find out how it ends (spoiler alert, ends just like the Christmas Singing did!) read until the very last page. It's a little sappy, a little predictable, and a little over the top but like I said it's a guilty pleasure.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Different Type of Zombie

Joanna Weaver's christian self help book, Lazarus Awakening, used the story of Lazarus' resurrection to show readers how to find their place in the heart of God. Sounds overwhelming, but really it's a little underwhelming. Honestly, the book sounds like a lot of other christian guide books (aka self help) books that I've read in the past. Reading about her struggles was empowering but it felt a little repetitive at times. One thing that I really did enjoy was some guidelines on how to live in the light of eternity and prepare for what God really has in store for you. Joanna lists the following principals for essentially "living your earthly life to its fullest potential":

1. live fully
2. hold things loosely
3. value people highly
4. travel lightly
5. love completely
6. give freely
7. look expectantly

Overall, this book was alright, it wasn't mind blowing but it still charges the reader to ask some good soul searching questions.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Slow Start, Speedy Finish

"Eye of the Sword" by Karyn Henley started off as a disappointment. I hadn't realized that it was the second in a series so it took me a while to gt a hang of things, especially since it was a fantasy. Thankfully there was a glossary of terms and a map in the beginning to get me straightened out. This fantasy series chronicles the adventures and triumphs of Trevin, a comain (knight) of the King. Trevin sets out on a journey to find two missing harps, seven missing comains and secure the neighboring kingdoms peace and support. He must do all of this quickly before the prince of the Dregmoors (bad kingdom), Varic, marries Trevins true love, Meleai (the King's daughter). Along the way Trevin is accused of murder, acquitted, discovers that he is half angel, and uncovers one of the harps. It's a thrilling book and I can't wait to read the next one. Wish I had read the first one first though.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ringing in the New Year with a Good Read

I started off this new year with two resolutions.

1. to drink eight glasses of water a day
2. to actually read 100 books this year.

So far I've done good on both. I finished reading 'The Scroll' by Grant R. Jeffrey and Alton L. Gansky last night and consumed many a cup of water in the process. I have mixed feelings about this book, it started off slow, picked up fast and got extra intriguing, and then dropped off completely at the end. The story follows David Chambers a biblical archaeologist who has lost his faith in God and is content to wallow in self loathing and luxury for the rest of his life until an old colleague calls and makes him a proposition he can't refuse. David leaves his teaching post at Harvard to go back to Jerusalem to go on his most important archaeological quest ever. He is joined by his old lover, Amber, his arch nemesis, Nuri, his mentor, Ben-Judah, and security man, Landeau. Together they try to find all of the lost artifacts listed on the Copper Scroll in order to build the third temple in Jerusalem. Things start off great with one find after another, but Muslim extremists start to moniter their movements and try to kill the team when they learn that the artifacts will be used to construct the Jews third temple in Jerusalem. After that it is just a whirlwind to try and stay alive and keep the priceless artifacts recovered safe.

As I said earlier I have mixed feelings about this book. I got really into the archaeological aspects of the story and the fascinating tid bits of Jewish history. It was really interesting. But then... I got to the end. I won't ruin anything for you but I was really disappointed in the ending, it was a let down. If you like conspiracy theories and the like you'll probably enjoy the outcome of this book more than I did.

So far I've got one book down and ninety nine more to go. Happy New Years everyone!!!

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"