Tuesday, September 24, 2013

unstoppable review

"Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action" is the non-fiction work of inspirational speaker and evangelist, Nick Vujicic.  The author writes of how to do something with your faith, rather than keeping it to yourself and how it benefits both you and the rest of the world.  Not to mention God.  This is Nick's second book.  I have not read the other two.  "Unstoppable" is not a biography, though he uses his own life and challenges of being born without limbs as a way to get his message across.  The basic theme of the book is "Quit yer whining, ya big baby!  I got no arms or legs and I'm on top of the Great Wall of China.  Boo-ya!"  Only he puts it much nicer.  It is a good book, but not one that you can't just sit and read straight through.  The ideal way to read it would be a chapter a day.  Don't rush it, it will seem boring.  If you read it a bit a day, it is much more inspirational.  I received this book for free for participating in a book blast for his newest book, "Limitless". 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

toooo good

"Too Good for Truman" by Chris Well is an action crime mystery story set in Nashville. Truman is an unemployed crime reporter for the local Nashville newspaper and no one is more surprised than he is when he receives a thank you note from the local homeless mission thanking him for his half million dollar contribution to their charity. The trouble begins to build though when the IRS agent comes to investigate why he has not reported how he came to have a half a million dollars to contribute to a charity. Mix all this up with the kidnapping of up and coming rising teen country and western singing sensation, Darla Lovell and you have the making of this mystery. This is not the mystery so many crime novels that leaves the reader wondering who done it no this is the mystery of how Truman going to prove that not only did he not bilk the IRS out of their tax dollars but also how he did not kidnap Darla Lovell and try to collect the ransom money from the music producer’s insurance money. This is a great story. I have never laughed so much while reading an action novel. Mr. Well has so many twists and turns and throws in comedy with each one. I have enjoyed reading his novels before and this one did not disappoint in any way. Great read and I hope to read more of your work. I received this book from the author for this review. (submitted by CB)

Friday, September 20, 2013

moms devotion

"Devotions for Moms" by Heather Bixler is a 37 day devotion for Christian moms.  Each day has scripture and a story followed by either a prayer or further scripture reading.  This book is targeted for moms, but I would say that it would be suitable for anyone.  Some of the entries are momish, but some are not.  I am a mom, so some days spoke rather clear to me, especially when she talks about the kids putting clean clothes in the hamper so they don't have to put them away.  What is with that, btw!  I hate that.  Anyway, it is a pretty good devotional. There were quite a few editorial mistakes that need to be cleaned up, for example:  there/their, spellings, etc.  I can't recall if I have an advanced copy (digital) or not, but if it is advanced that probably was taken care of when it went to publishing.  I liked it and would recommend it to anyone, especially a mom.  I received this book for free from Becoming Press LLC.

esther review

"Esther", a bible study by Darlene Schacht is one of her three bible studies in the series.  Of her studies, I loved Ruth, but didn't like Philippians at all.  Esther was somewhere in between.  Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not use the word for God anywhere in it.  It is viewed as a Jewish historical story rather than as a religious one.  There is a theory that the book of Esther (from the Bible) is not a true story, but rather a parable.  If you are a believer in this theory, than this study will fit you perfectly.  I am not; I believe that it is a true story, therefore, I found parts of the study a little confusing.  I think this study can only really be viewed as good or bad by the individual reader.  It picks through the book of Esther and draws similarities from other parts of the bible to verify or further study it.  I received this book for free from the author on her Time-Warp Wife Facebook page.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

nora of florence

"The Girl in the Glass" by Susan Meissner is the tale of three women on two continents and two centuries.  The novel starts out with Nora of the prominent Medicis from the 14th century in Florence, Italy and Meg, a California woman in the 21st.  Meg works for a travel book publisher and receives chapters from a budding writer, Sofia, living in Florence.  Sofia believes she is a descendant of the Medici  and that Nora speaks to her through statues.  Meg has a life-long dream of visiting Florence.  Her father sends her to Florence shortly after Meg was introduced to Sofia.  The three women's lives become intertwined in Florence.
The beginning of this book is hard to get into.  Meg is rather immature and has a weird emotional  dependency with her parents.  Nora is rather vague.  When Sofia steps into the story, the novel takes on a whole new take.  Sofia's writing is phenomenal.  No matter that it is unbelievable, it is still a wonderful voice.  I know almost nothing of Italy, let alone Florence.  During most of Meg's trip to Florence, I had to read near a laptop so that I could google the works of art they were talking about.  There is a lot I have been missing.  The art was amazing.  If the goal of this book is to make you want to go to Florence, then buy me a ticket.  Florence is my new destination on my "must see before I die" list.  Top of the list at that.  The novel really comes to together at the end.  Not my favorite Meissner novel, but still awesome writing.  I won this book in a contest from Water Brook Press.  (The contest was to choose the cover of the book.  They didn't pick my fav, but I still got the book!)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

winning balance review

"Winning Balance" by Shawn Johnson, the Olympian, is a not an autobiography (her words) but a book about what she has learned so far about love, faith, and living your dreams. In my opinion it is about as autobiographical as you can get. She starts with birth and goes on from there. At the ripe old age of 20 she has done quite a bit of living. She tells of training in gymnastics from an early age, to the Olympics, to Dancing With the Stars, to an attempted comeback, to retirement. That's a lot crammed into 20 years. This is the second book I have read this year by an Olympian and the second I have read by a DWTS champ. It was interesting to see her point of view as she was by far the youngest and the only female as well as generational American of the three authors. She isn't a great writer. She sees things young, she writes young,; but hey, she is. She doesn't get real deep into herself, she mostly sticks to the play-by-play writing method. I would recommend this book for the gymnastics fan or really anyone wanting a light hearted non-fiction. No raves, but no complaints either. C+ I received this book for free through the Summer Reading Program through Tyndale Publishing.

Friday, September 13, 2013

two for one

Worthy Publishing sent me two books to review so I am going to review them together with a little compare and contrast. "He Knows Your Name" by Travis Cottrell and "The Power of an Ordinary Prayer" by Michael W. Smith with Tom Williams. Both books are devotional type reads. Cottrell's book starts each chapter with a definition and a verse, then a two or three page entry, followed by reflection and application, quotes and scripture, and finally prayer. It's a fairly short book that if read daily can be read in a week or so. The topics tended to surround worship, but varied. Smith's book started each chapter with scripture, then with entries of several pages peppered with reflection questions throughout. It finished each chapter with quotes and verse and ended with a final reflection and action. His topics surrounded blessings and speaking prayer. Though Smith's chapters were longer, there were less of them. These books are incredibly similar and I can't really say one was better than the other. Some days they were blah, blah, blah and some days they were WOW! that really speaks to me! I gotta read that again. It probably depended a lot on the reader's mood and the point at hand in the chapter. I would recommend these books to any Christian; they are good and sometimes amazing.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

the great war review

"The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War" by Peter Hart is a text book style written account of the beginning and duration of WWI. It is not for the average reader. It is written with the die-hard war historian in mind. I knew little about WWI prior to this book. Mostly high school history class. This information was pretty much all new to me. It also was a lot of information to take in at once if one knows little about the war or the politics of turn of the century Europe. It is well written and I believe well researched. I don't really know, I am trusting Hart that it is accurate. I received this book for free from www.librarything.com.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the once a decade vacation

Every decade or so I like to take a vacation.  My husband and I own our own business so it is very hard to get away.  His family also lives several hours away, so when we get time to go somewhere...that's usually where we go.  Last week our son, JP, graduated from basic training and infantry training at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  We made the trek with our two youngest daughters, M, who is 17 and S who is 8.  We traveled about 5 hours a day for three days to get to Georgia and then took the trip home in two.  First stop was St. Louis.  Went to the arch of course, but also to the Science Center.  Which if you have little kids (4-13) they will love this place.  It is free too!  It's all hands on, even has a guy on site cleaning dinosaur bones.  Second stop was the Shiloh Battlefield.  I love history, so does my 8 year old.   We loved looking around.  It is however, visually just a hayfield, so if you don't have a good imagination and a knowledge of the battle, just skip it.  Third on the trip was Atlanta.  Atlanta people are mean drivers!!!  Anyway, we went to the aquarium which was amazing!  It was probably the best part of the trip.  Truly amazing!  We then hit rush hour traffic, which my husband never truly recovered from.  Saw Stone Mountain.  Impressive.  Then we did Ft Benning and the Infantry museum for a couple of days.  Saw the older two daughters, K & C, along with C's boyfriend and M our daughter who lives in CA and we haven't seen in about 5 years.  She has grown up so much as has JP, who matured about 10 years while in the army.  On the way back we did Elvis day.  We hit Tupelo and then Memphis.  That's a good idea, btw.  Explains a lot.  Still exhausted though we've been back three days.  Just caught up at work but now have to leave early to take S to the cardiologist which will then get me behind again.  Oh, well, it was all worth it.

helen loves peter

"Helen Keller in Love" by Rosie Sultan is the fictional account of a true story.  Helen Keller, the deaf/blind girl that is infamous in American history, had never been alone with a man in any way until Peter.  Peter became her personal secretary when Annie Sullivan, the Annie Sullivan, became seriously ill with what was thought to be tuberculosis.  At the age of 37, Helen was ready for love, sex, any kind of relationship with a man, she also wanted a family of her own.  Peter filled that role.
Helen Keller is always fascinating, but one has to wonder, does anyone really know the real Helen Keller.  This book goes into the Helen Keller that was more human than the one that is perceived.  Helen was incredibly sheltered, lonely, and spoiled.  She also really wanted a man.  This novel goes into what it must be like to experience a "first" relationship at the age of 37 and how frustrating it must be to have to sneak around and hide it as if you are 14.  It is a well written book, Helen's character, though fictionalized, seems to really go deep into her mind and emotions.  I like this book, I just wish it were longer.  Did she ever have another?  I wonder.  I received this book in a giveaway on the site www.popcornreads.com . 

Friday, September 6, 2013

tattler's branch review

"Tattler's Branch" by Jan Watson tells the story of Lilly, a doctor in a mine camp during the early 20th Century.  Lilly's friend and a neighbor, Armina, witnesses a murder and rescues the victim's baby.  Armina's health quickly deteriorates and Lilly must care for the special needs baby.  Meanwhile, the baby's father is lurking about trying to get his child back in underhanded ways. 

I liked this book in that it showed that the myth of women only working from home is untrue and that women have been doing the housework and much, much for since the beginning.  The characters are great, the writing is good.  Armina is supposed to be 20 but acts much, much older.  I would rather the writer had just made her older.   The book also gave a good description of how infants with Down's Syndrome were viewed at the time.  I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishing.