Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Love & Respect

Synopsis: Discover the Single Greatest Secret to a Successful Marriage. Psychological studies affirm it, and the Bible has been saying it for ages. Cracking the communication code between husband and wife involves understanding one thing: that unconditional respect is as powerful for him as unconditional love is for her. It's the secret to marriage that every couple seeks, and yet few couples ever find. Today, you and your mate can start fresh with the ground-breaking guidance that Dr. Emerson Eggerichs provides in this book. His revolutionary message, featured on Focus on the Family, is for anyone: in marital crisis...wanting to stay happily married...who's feeling lonely. It's for engaged couples...victims of affairs...pastors and counselors seeking material that can save a marriage. Using Dr. Eggerich's breakthrough techniques, couples nationwide are achieving a brand-new level of intimacy and learning how to: - stop the Crazy Cycle of conflict - initiate the Energizing Cycle of change - enjoy the Rewarded Cycle of new passion.

This book was recommended by one of my instructors at Bible school, so I was especially interested when it was available for review as part of the Booksneeze blog program through Thomas Nelson. It definitely lived up to the recommendation. It is a wonderful book for those married or considering marriage. The principles from this book are practical and applicable.

The Fire in Ember

Synopsis: "John Timmons' life is planned and orderly. He cares for his mother and four younger brothers, and their future depends on him to keep their Colorado ranch profitable. Ember Farrar (Bert) has run away from her lawbreaking family in search of a new life. But, when she attempts to return a horse that her brother had stolen, ranch hands believe she is a thief and a boy and they plan to hang her. John, who is also a deputy marshal, breaks up the hanging. After paying for the stolen horse, he takes the boy home to work off the debt. Later he learns Bert is a girl who refuses to tell him who she is and why she possessed a stolen horse. When ranchers report stolen cattle, Bert is a natural suspect. John is touched by Bert's sweet spirit and natural gift of music. Surely she's not a cattle thief. Bert fears for their lives when she is forced to either help her brothers steal or put the Timmons in danger. When John thinks Bert has betrayed him, he ignores God and turns revengeful. Will John learn who Bert truly is? Will their lives ever return back to normal?"

I did not enjoy "The Fire in Ember," by Diann Mills. It was boring and did not hold my interest, I had to put in a lot of effort just to finish it. The plot of a girl trying to escape her law-breaking family and right their wrongs, meets a man who was wronged by them, falls in love with said man, said man finds out about family ties and must decide if he can trust her, yada yada yada... Also, Bert's "conversion" was hardly believable and it seemed the author implied that works and repentance were necessary for salvation. The characters were one dimensional and I could not relate to them at all. I am glad I did not pay money for this book. I received it for review as part of the Zondervan Publishers blog program.

Attack at the Arena

"Attack at the Arena," by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker is the second book in the Imagination Station Series, written for ages 7 and up. The story follows Patrick and Beth, cousins, who take a journey to Ancient Rome via the Imagination Station. Once there, they meet Telemachus, a monk. The adventure introduces kids to ancient history and Biblical concepts. My sister, age 8, was enthralled with the book and read it in two days. The book was almost identical to the "Adventures in Odyssey" episode, "Telemachus." These books are great alternative to the sci-fi, fantasy, and vampire novels being pushed on kids today.

This book was given to me for free for review by Tyndale Publishers.

When Sparrows Fall

Synopsis: "A widow and mother of six, Miranda Hanford leads a quiet, private life. When the pastor of her close-knit church announces his plans to move the entire congregation to another state, Miranda jumps at the opportunity to dissolve ties with Mason Chandler and his controlling method of ruling his flock. But then Mason threatens to unearth secrets from her past, and Miranda feels trapped, terrified she’ll be unable to protect her children.

College professor Jack Hanford is more than surprised when he gets a call from his estranged sister-in-law’s oldest son, Timothy, informing him that Miranda has taken a serious fall and he has been named legal guardian of her children while she recovers. Quickly charmed by Miranda’s children, Jack brings some much-needed life into the sheltered household. But his constant challenging of the family’s conservative lifestyle makes the recovering mother uneasy and defensive—despite Jack’s unnerving appeal.

As Jack tries to make sense of the mysterious Miranda and the secrets she holds so tightly, Mason’s pressure on her increases. With her emotions stirring and freedom calling, can Miranda find a way to unshackle her family without losing everything?"

Lately I have been enjoying Christian fiction less and less. However, "When Sparrows Fall," was a well-written and entertaining read. The characters were realistic, not cookie-cuttered like so much of Christian fiction. The plot kept my attention. I enjoyed the references to home schooling, since I was home schooled, and there was not a bunch of cliched theological references. I would definitely recommend this book.

This book was given to me free for review by Waterbrook Multnomah publishers through the Blogging for Books program.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

Synopsis: "Stepping from a battered coach on a rainy April eve, newly widowed Elisabeth Kerr must begin again, without husband or title, property or fortune. She is unafraid of work and gifted with a needle, but how will she stitch together the tattered remnants of her life? And who will mend her heart, torn asunder by betrayal and deception?
Elisabeth has not come to Selkirk alone. Her mother-in-law, Marjory Kerr, is a woman undone, having buried her husband, her sons, and any promise of grandchildren. Dependent upon a distant cousin with meager resources, Marjory dreads the future almost as much as she regrets the past. Yet joy still comes knocking, and hope is often found in unexpected places.
Then a worthy hero steps forward, rekindling a spark of hope. Will he risk his reputation to defend two women labeled as traitors to the Crown? Or will a wealthy beauty, untainted by scandal, capture his affections?"

"Mine is the Night," is the sequel to "Here Burns My Candle." I enjoyed this sequel much more than the first book. The book took about 100 pages to really draw me in but was enjoyable after that. I didn't love it but it held my attention. Elisabeth was too perfect of a character to be completely believable. Marjory, Elisabeth's mother-in-law, has a complete change of heart and character that is also a tad implausible. Once the romance began I was able to overlook these character flaws (or their lack). Better than some, not as good as others.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake

Synopsis: "Todd Valmer should have known better. A farmer who's been through several disasters, he travels to Virginia to fetch his widowed mother to cook and help him around his Texas farm... or that was the plan until she keels over on the train and they get kicked off. Maggie Rose barters for a living and also makes soaps, lotions, and perfumes with a special rose recipe passed down from mother to daughter for generations. She hasn't wanted to marry... until that handsome Texan shows up. Her heart skips a beat, and when he proposes, a hasty marriage follows.

What ensues, however, is a clash of culture and a battle of wills--and it's clear they both mistook instant attraction and infatuation for love. As their marriage loses its sparkle and fills with disillusionment, Todd and Maggie must determine what is worth fighting for. He dreams of a farm. Maggie wants to fulfill the family tradition with her rose perfumes. Todd's mother, however, has entirely different plans for her son that do not include Maggie. In light of their hasty marriage and mistaken dreams, is there any hope of recapturing their love and building a future together?"

I read "Serendipity," a few months ago and have been meaning to write a review on it. I have read many of Hake's books but I liked this one the best. The whirlwind romance and quick marriage was not all sunshine and roses which made it more believable. The characters had many faults and disagreements which made them stronger characters. I couldn't believe how irritating the mother in-law was!! This is a good addition to Christian historical fiction.

Masquerade by Nancy Moser

"Masquerade," was an engrossing read. At first I didn't like the main character, Lottie, because of her immaturity and constant whining. But the book soon drew me in and I came to really enjoy both the characters of Lottie and Dora. I was happy to see where their journeys took them. One of the things I didn't like was the romance. For both Lottie and Dora their romances seemed a tad far-fetched and too fast to be meaningful relationships. Also, Beatrice and Mrs. Tremaine's characters were constantly changing. One minute Beatrice was hostile and the next she was quiet and sensitive. Mrs. Tremaine was haughty one minute and understanding the next. Other than those things, it was a well-written historical novel. I was given this copy by Bethany House Publishers free for review.

Here is the book trailer from YouTube: