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:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

The following is a list of my all-time favorite books. After number one, the list is in no particular order. YOU.MUST.READ.THEM.ALL.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
2. Black Cross by Greg Iles
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
5. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera
6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
7. Worth Dying For by Lee Child
8. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
9. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
10. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
12. While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
13. Eve's Daughters by Lynn Austin
14. All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
15. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
16. The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
17. Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz
18. The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
19. Wish You Well by David Baldacci
20. Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell
21. The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers
22. The Shiloh Legacy Series, the Zion Covenant Series, and the Zion Chronicles by Bodie Thoene
23. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
24. The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini
25. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini
26. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
27. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
28. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth
29. The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss
30. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
31. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
32. The Oath by Frank Peretti
33. The Visitation by Frank Peretti
34. Though None Go With Me by Jerry Jenkins
35. Riven by Jerry Jenkins
36. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
37. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
38. Go Down to Silence by G. K. Belliveau
39. The Princess by Lori Wick
40. The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke
41. The Refiner's Fire Series by Lynn Austin
42. The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
43. And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers

Black Cross by Greg Iles

This evening I finished re-reading "Black Cross." In the three years since I last read it I forgot how amazing it is. Historical fiction is my genre of choice and I have read many books about World War II. This novel surpasses them all.

During the war, Germany developed two poison gases, Sarin and Soman, which remain the most lethal gases on the planet to this day. By the end of the war, Hitler knew the Allied troops were closing in but neither Soman or Sarin were used. Why wouldn't a confirmed madman use these gases when backed into a corner, and with a certainty of losing the war otherwise? "Black Cross" seeks to answer this question.

At the start of the novel, Winston Churchill and others under his command had just learned of Germany's possession of Sarin and Soman. However, the Allies had no defense against those gases, and no chemical weapons of their own that match the lethality of Sarin or Soman.

The two main characters, Jonas Stern and Mark McDonell could not have been more different. Jonas was a German Jew who escaped Nazi Germany and fought against the British in Palestine. Mark McDonell was a chemist and medical doctor from Georgia, experimenting with lethal gases in Oxford, England. These two men were brought together on a mission to tip the scales in the Allies' favor.

Even when reading it for the second time, I could not put this book down! The descriptions of the atrocities committed by the Nazis, the willingness of many characters to risk their lives for the sake of a cause greater than themselves, and the well-developed characters made it one of the best books I have ever read. Almost six hundred pages kept my attention until the edge-of-my-seat ending.

Here is the first chapter from

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Must-Read

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen is one of the best Christian fiction books I have ever read! I purchased this as soon as it came out on my Amazon Kindle. I do not regret buying it. I enjoyed it immensely, as I have all her other books.

"Mariah Aubrey lives in seclusion in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant by writing novels in secret, at a time when novel writing was considered improper and unladylike. When wealthy and ambitious Captain Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse. Will he risk his plans—and his heart—for a woman shadowed by scandal?"

I read this book in one day, I could not put it down. The characters were easy to relate to and the romance was believable. It was a delight to watch the characters develop and see them grow in their relationships with God and each other. I also enjoyed the references to Jane Austen and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Any fan of historical fiction would love this novel.

Here is the link to read the first chapter from

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Better Than Expected- 3.5 Stars

Here is the synopsis for Kristen Heitzmann's novel "Indivisble."
"Battling his own personal demons, Police Chief Jonah Westfall knows the dark side of life and has committed himself to eradicating it. When a pair of raccoons are found mutilated in Redford, Colorado, Jonah investigates the gruesome act, knowing the strange event could escalate and destroy the tranquility of his small mountain town. With a rising drug threat and never-ending conflict with Tia Manning, a formidable childhood friend with whom he has more than a passing history, Jonah fights for answers—and his fragile sobriety. But he can’t penetrate every wound or secret—especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness. From best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann comes a spellbinding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone."

I have tried and failed many times to enjoy Kristen Heitzmann's novels, so I was not expecting to enjoy her newest novel, "Indivisible." I received this book free for review from the Blogging for Books program from Multnomah Publishers. Some of the things I look for in a Christian novel are characters I can connect with and a realistic view of Christianity. I do not enjoy long sermons or overdone, sappy Christianity. This novel did relatively well at addressing those issues.

The main characters, Jonah, Piper, and Tia are true to life, like-able characters. The issues they deal with are things many of us deal with such as past errors, learning from poor decisions, moving ahead towards goals, forming deep relationships, and practically living out Christianity. Their struggles are what redeemed this slightly odd book. I found myself wanting to know more about them and cheering them on in their goals. I was truly interested in watching them heal from their shattered pasts.

Also, the Christianity portrayed in the lives of the characters was not contrived. The three main characters were believers and struggled to understand the grace of God in dealing with their mistakes. They learned to rely on others and to accept the support of members of their local churches.

The only thing that detracted from the story was that of the ending. It seemed far-fetched a little disjointed. However, the story of the relationships between the main characters made it worth it.

Here is a link to watch the book trailer on YouTube:

Here is a link to the first chapter on Amazon:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Suitor For Jenny

"When looking for a husband, it’s best to go where the odds are in your favor. And that would be Rocky Creek, Texas, 1880. But Jenny Higgins's plan to find husbands for her two sisters hits a snag when enthusiastic applicants fail to meet her stringent requirements. Rejecting her sisters' choices for mates and riding herd on her growing feelings for Marshal Rhett Armstrong, she refuses to give up. Jenny thinks choosing a husband is not a job for the heart. It'll take one strong and handsome marshal to convince her otherwise."

This book was okay as far as Christian fiction goes. I read it in just a few hours which shows that there was not a whole lot of depth to the story. It was a cute, entertaining story with too many plot twists to be believable. This plot of women going out west with hopes of snagging a husband and then falling in love with the most "unlikely" one has been done a few too many times. I liked the Marshal and I liked the three sisters. Their antics and the sisters' relationship made it enjoyable, if not memorable. I would definitely not recommend it or even consider it one of the better books I read last year, but it mildly entertained me for a short time. I would give it about 3 stars since the characters were so like-able.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”

Umm...Weird and Ridiculous

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

After all the hype this book got on facebook and Booksneeze before it was released, I was expecting something great. My expectations were unmet. In fact, I was extremely disappointed. This is the book description:

"This story is for everyone--but not everyone is for this story. It is a dangerous tale of times past. A love story full of deep seduction. A story of terrible longing and bold sacrifice. Then as now, evil begins its courtship cloaked in light. And the heart embraces what it should flee. Forgetting it once had a truer lover. With a kiss, evil will ravage body, soul, and mind. Yet there remains hope, because the heart knows no bounds. Love will prove greater than lust. Sacrifice will overcome seduction. And blood will flow. Because the battle for the heart is always violently opposed. For those desperate to drink deep from this fountain of life, enter. But remember, not everyone is for this story."

The story line was weird, with many vampirish overtones. I kept expecting it to get better, since I have enjoyed many of Dekker's books, but it did not. I didn't feel drawn to any of the characters. The mysticism and pagan themes and the vivid descriptions of Toma's desire for his love were disconcerting. I did not understand how any of the symbolism could be considered Christian without quite a bit of stretching. Try one of Dekker's other books. This was another lame attempt at a vampire story, a subject that is lame enough to begin with without adding "Christian" themes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”