Thursday, May 29, 2014

normans review

"The Normans" by Lars Brownworth is a nonfiction historical account of the process of the Normans starting with Ragdar, the Viking (yes, he was a real guy) to the Prince of Antioch.  The book tends to stick to a political and military style telling.  There is little of culture outside of those two categories.  However, we are talking about a couple of centuries of little known history. There is tons of information to get across.  Early European history is rarely touched by Americans, so I knew little about the Normans other than a few references here and there and of course, The Vikings, the TV show on the History Channel.  This book goes beyond that and into the results of those early Vikings.  The Normans came from Viking stock and invaded (attacked) parts of England, France, Italy, etc, only to settle and progress as communities tend to do. This follows that story.
This book is for the history buff.   Brownworth keeps the reader's attention and yet stick gives tons of information without being boring.  I liked this book and would recommend it to the average history buff.  I received this book for free from

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

distinction review

"Mark of Distinction" is the second book in the Price of Privilege Trilogy written by Jessica Dotta.  This series needs to be read in order to fully follow the storyline.  I did not read the first book and spent the first half of this one not fully knowing what was going on or why.  This book takes place in the Victorian Era Society, with Julia Pierson being the main character.  Julia had been raised to believe that her father was her mother's husband but found out after her mother's death that her father was a wealthy Lord.  Chance Macy, the cause of Julia's mother's death has married Julia, and has caused quite the scandal.  She is staying with her father, but not all together willingly. There is a lot of pulling and tugging, hiding, secrets, lying, sneaking, propriety, etc, etc going on and no real sense of it all.  There is a lot of Julia doing absolutely nothing for long periods of time.  I didn't really like this book too much.  I feel it would have been much more appreciated if I had read the first book in the series, but than again, maybe not.  I think a little more action and explaining would have helped more.  I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Tyndale Publishers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

death by the book review

"Death By the Book" is the second book in the Drew Farthering Mystery series written by Julianna Deering.  It would be a good idea to read the first one, but not necessary.  In this novel, Drew, an amateur  sleuth in 1930's England, becomes involved in a serial killers' web.  The Hatpin Killer begins killing in the area of Farthering St. John and the clues and murders get closer to Drew by the day.
In this installment, Madeline's Aunt Ruth is introduced into the story.  Aunt Ruth in a hoot.  She says exactly what you are thinking.  You're gonna love her.  For instance the observation that rich people around Drew just keep being killed is a little on the odd side. She's the only one that points it out.  As for the writing, the dialogue takes a little getting used to as it is upper crust English of the 30's.  They say "I daresay" an awful lot.  However, the twist and turns, the clues, all lead the brain to try and figure it out.  You will never see the end coming.  I dare you to figure out the killer.  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Bethany House Publishing. 

Body image

"Body Image Lies Women Believe" by Shelley Hitz is a book with an assortment of guest writers that write about the lies women believe about themselves and the truth that God tells them.  Women tend to believe the worst, mostly because that is what is being told to them.  But is it true?  Not usually.  Hitz's book covers all sorts of body image lies from weight, to gray hair, to being too pretty.  The writer than pulls scripture to prove that the reality of a woman's value comes from God and is generally not as harsh as the lie.
The writing of this book depends on which author is doing the writing.  Some of the writers are better than others.  Some have better stories than others.  I read it a chapter a day, that way it was easier to follow the points rather than have to switch gears with each writer.  I received this book for free from the Shelley Hitz in exchange for a book blast at the time of release.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

pretty is as pretty does

"A Broken Kind of Beautiful" by Katie Ganshert is a Christian novel about Ivy, a high level fashion model, who is becoming a has-been at the ripe old age of 24.  Ivy is the product of an extramarital affair and has spent her life either being ignored or used.  Marilyn, her step-mother, has been her only constant, and her love was not what Ivy wanted.  Ivy becomes blacklisted in the New York fashion scene and returns to South Carolina, where Marilyn, a bridal designer, hires her to star in a campaign.  She meets Davis, a photographer, while she is there and he becomes determined to show Ivy that there is much more to her than what the fashion world would like her to believe. 
I have a step daughter that tried her hand at modeling and I am really glad it didn't work out.  The modeling world will eat you up and spit you out.  This novel exposes the gutting of Ivy and girls like her.  The only thing I would change about this book is the repeated use of the phrase "so and so's blood drained from her face".  That phrase is used a little too much.  But other than that, the writing is done well.  Ganshert does a good job of seeing the broken woman and bring sympathy to her case without making you roll your eyes because of the poor little beautiful girl.  I would recommend this.  I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

prodigal max

"Henry Goes to the Big City: A Lesson in Unconditional Love" by CJ and Shelley Hitz is a children's book aimed at 3-5 year olds that is a retelling of the Prodigal Son.  Max is a human boy who is watching a movie about Henry going to the big city.  Henry being the prodigal son.  Henry is a mouse, by the way.  I read this story to my 9 year old daughter on our PC.  She said the book was good and she liked the pictures.  Personally, I thought the authors should have just told the Henry story and left Max out of it, but my daughter didn't mind it.  I received this book for free from Body and Soul Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

distortion review

"Distortion" by Terri Blackstock is the second book in the Moonlighters Series.  Though it would be helpful to read the first, it isn't necessary.  This book follows Juliet, the wife of a surgeon, who watches her husband be gunned down and then works to solve the murder.  She works part-time for a private investigator as does her two sisters.  The more Juliet digs into the murder case the more she comes to know her real husband.  Bob, the husband, had been leading a double life.  And before the murder of Bob can be solved the mystery of who Bob is must be solved first.
This is a pretty good book.  It moves quick with lots of layers into how deep things go.  There are a couple of unrealistic instances that are pretty improbable, but they are few and far between.  I usually like Blackstock's writing and this one does not disappoint.  She is a Christian writer without all of the Christian fiction usuals.  The characters are realistic people, there is real action and real mystery.  Good book.  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from  formerly known as Book Sneeze.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

whistling past the graveyard review

Whistling past the graveyard is a term used to describe doing something you like to keep your mind off of your greatest fears.  This book is about doing just that.  "Whistling Past the Graveyard" by Sarah Crandall is the story of Starla, a "white-trash" girl whose parents have abandoned her and is left to live with her grandmother who makes no secret of hating it.  Starla is a smart-mouth brat.  No two ways about it.  But if she wasn't, there wouldn't be much of a story, would there?  Starla decides she is going to runaway from her grandmother, who lives in Mississippi, and live with her mother.  She is convinced her mother is a famous singer in Nashville.  On the way she is picked up by a black woman, Eula, who has "found" another white child and is on her way home to her abusive husband.  By the way, this is the 1960s.  The story follows the three on their adventures to Nashville and back where they are whistling up a storm.  One bad thing happens after another and the two experience a transformation.  Eula becomes a woman who can take care of what ever life tosses her way and Starla become a girl who can trust the people around her and not need to make up life as she goes.  This book may not be real probable, but it is very good.  However, I wasn't born in 60s and have never lived in the South so what do I know.  I still liked it.  I received this book for free in exchange for a review from

Friday, May 2, 2014


"The Women of Duck Commander" is collectively written by the Robertson women of Duck commander: Korie, Jessica, Lisa, Missy and of course, Miss Kay.  The book briefly tells each woman's story in interview style.  It is a quick read.  They cover topics such as telling about each other's characteristics as well as their husbands and children's.  They talk of past lives and the life of a celebrity.  Most importantly, they talk a great deal of their faith. 
This book is written for Duck Dynasty fans.  It is also not for the close minded.  There is a lot of religion in there and it would be best suited for Christians or open minded people who are interested in possibilities.  This book was written before the whole gay thing, so that is not mentioned.  As far as the writing goes, it was fair.  Mostly it is a peek into their lives.  This book makes you want to be a Robertson.  I want Miss Kay for my mother-in-law.  The husband's not important, I just want Miss Kay.  I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from 

winner, winner, chicken dinner

In the last month I have won a couple of sweet giveaways.  I thought I would write about them even though I haven't read the books that were included in the packages.  The first was a gift set from Jane Kirkpatrick, the author, from her website.  Included were four signed books:  Where Lilacs Still Bloom; Promises of Hope For Difficult Times; A Simple Gift of Comfort; and her new one, Sincerely Yours.  The package also included stationery, stamps, stickers, a pen, and some little cards.  Most of these things were signed by the author.  All of which was very lucky for me since my daughter is about to graduate from high school in a couple of weeks.  Now she can use these things were for Thank Yous.  My younger daughter was so jealous that she didn't get that package that I had to give her the stickers.  She just LOVED that package. Oh, and I also got some cute little post-its that I now keep by the phone. Here is a link to her website:

The second is a hodgepodge of gifts that was won from  which is a really good website if you are looking for some material geared toward Christian women.  In this package I received two books:  "Roadside Assistance" by Amy Clipston and "If the Show Fits" by Sandra D. Bricker.  I have not read Bricker before so that will be a new experience to look forward to.  I also received a Clipston pen, a National Kidney foundation bracelet (my nephew has kidney disease and is a regular walker for the foundation which I support, so I wear it with pride even if it is orange).  It also had many bookmarks signed by authors including the one and only Beverly Lewis. 

I love to win stuff and I love to tell people what I think of the stuff I won.    After I finish the books I will let you know what I think.  Like I said I have never read Bicker and I have only read one Clipston so these will be reviews that I can't detect; Kirkpatrick is a favorite of mine.  In "Sincerely" she teams up with three other authors:  Cabot, Eakes, and Shorey.  None of which I have ever read, so that will be new to review too.  Better get started!