Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer's List by Anita Higman

Summer’s List
by Anita Higman

Summer Snow’s grandmother is dying. And as a request, she gives Summer a list of things to accomplish such as finding a childhood friend, singing in public, taking a hot air balloon ride, and solving a mystery. Summer spends the Texas summer fulfilling her grandmother’s wish and unexpectedly finds the one thing in life she was missing.

I found this book fairly predictable although there were a couple things I didn’t see coming. I had hoped the book would have a little more adventurous especially in terms of the list. But it was still a good read. I give this book a B-.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Growing Up Duggar

Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships
by Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger Duggar

The Duggar family is well known from the show 19 Kids and Counting on TLC. They are known for their conservative beliefs and lifestyle that often seem strange to much of America. The four oldest girls wrote a book answering a lot of the questions they have gotten about what it is like to grow up in such a large family, why they live differently than much of the world around them, and what it means to be a Duggar.

As the title says, it’s all about relationships. So the girls have broken up the book into eight chapters, each about a different relationship with parents, siblings, guys, the world and more. Each chapter shares the family’s core values and shares personal stories about how they live out these values.

While I grew up in a conservative home, it was not as conservative as the Duggars. But I certainly see the value in their core values and how they live them out. Things like not having a TV, monitoring the internet usage, and even choosing courtship over dating are  counter cultural but they are have proven to be the solid foundation that have made the Duggars they family they are today.

After reading this book, I have been encouraged in my own core values and have been given hope for my own future and my family. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how the Duggars live, or even put into practice some of these Biblical core beliefs.

I received this book from Howard books for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rough Road To Freedom: A Memior by Neil T. Anderson

Best-selling author shares his inspirational journey
Today known as the author of the mega-seller The Bondage Breaker and the founder of Freedom in Christ ministries, Neil Anderson didn't always know that he was called to serve the Lord as a Christian minister. Though he is sure of his calling now, he readily admits that he has never sought a position in ministry and though he has founded and led a successful international parachurch organization, he refuses to spend a minute of his time to keep it in business.
The son and grandson of Norwegian farmers, Anderson grew up in rural Minnesota. He was a fun-loving, sports-crazy child, and no one suspected that God had planted a seed in him that would lead first to years as a pastor, then to teach in seminary, write or coauthor sixty books, and found a global ministry. Here he honestly shares his journey, complete with struggles and trials as he learns to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Though he still asks God, "Why me?" he continues to set people on the path to true freedom in Christ.

I was initially drawn to this book because I had heard of Neil T. Anderson because of his Steps To Freedom in Christ almost 2 years ago. I just went through the steps a few weeks ago. So I was excited to read his book and to see how everything had started and come together. Neil's book gave a history of his life and ministry. It was a unique look into the life of a man I have come to greatly respect for his work in spiritual battles.
I give this book 5 stars. I received this book from Kregal for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fun Secrets with Jody Hedlund

Secret #15: The thing I like least about being an author.
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
I love being an author. I absolutely adore spinning stories together. The process of creating characters, plots, and satisfying romances is something that I don't think I could live without.
But there is a LOT more to being an author than just writing books. There are many other responsibilities that take time. I'm my own secretary, administrative assistant, travel agent, researcher, editor, publicist, and marketer.
Out of all the writerly duties, there are several that fall near the bottom of my list of favorites. One of my least favorite things to do is market my books. I'd much rather let the marketing happen naturally in the course of connections rather than having to try to cold call or sales-pitch my book to someone. Fortunately, with the ease of the internet, authors can spread the word about their books in less invasive ways.
Another duty that comes close to being my least favorite is book signings. They are really hit or miss occasions. I've been to some where I've had lines and others where I've twiddled my thumbs most of the time. In the internet age, where readers can easily connect with authors from the comfort of their homes, I think book signings have largely lost their appeal—to both reader and author alike.
Even though marketing and book signings are fairly low on my list, I'd have to say that getting rewrites from my publisher is the thing I like least about being an author.  Rewrites (also known as macro edits) are the first major set of edits my editors give me. And these rewrites involve big picture kinds of changes. They aren't simple fix-a-word-here or a-comma-there kinds of edits.
Those kinds of major changes require a great deal of thought and concentration. It's not easy to thread new thoughts, character development, and plot ideas through a finished manuscript.  I find that I have to really focus during the rewrite phase, that I need more concentrated and quiet time to work–which isn't always easy to come by.
But as hard as the rewrites are, I know they only help improve my stories. When I'm done with them, I'm always glad I persevered to make my story even better. 
What about you? What's the thing you like least about your work?

Publisher's Weekly calls Unending Devotion "A meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."
To celebrate the release of Unending Devotion, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends: October 1st.
For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she'll be next in her "Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund" blog tour.
Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she's hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.
Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When A Woman You Love Was Abused by Dawn Scott Jones

Abuse of any kind, but particularly sexual abuse, can be detrimental to a marriage. Often, if it was the wife who was abused as a child, the husband, doesn't know what he can do to help his wife. He wants to fix things, but abuse is not something one can just put a bandaid on and heal it. Dawn Scott Jones shares her own story of being sexually abused as a child by her father and how husbands and help their wives get help and heal from the scars of abuse.
Jones is honest about her own experience and her journey to find healing. She artfully weaved other people's testimonies in addition to her own. This is a great resource, not just for husbands, but to be used in ministry along side other resources like Neil T. Anderson's Steps to Freedom in Christ and his book Bondage Breaker.
I give this book 4 stars. I received this book from Litfuse for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Reunion by Dan Walsh

Aaron Miller has spent a number of years as a handyman in a trailer park. That is all he is known for. But 40 years earlier, he saved the lives of three fellow comrades in Vietnam. But when he came home from the war, he lost everything - his job, his wife, his kids. But after 40 years, the men he saved are trying to find him.
Dave Russo is trying to write a book on heroes of Vietnam. When he goes to interview a man, that man tells him he needs to interview someone else, and he proceeds to tell Russo Aaron Miller's story. Russo is then hired to find Miller. If he does so, Russo will have enough money to finish his book.
Will Russo be able to find Aaron Miller. If so, will Miller want to meet the men he saved 40 years ago? Will he be able to regain anything he has lost over these last 40 years?
The Reunion was a very powerful book. It was not just about a search for a man who was a hero, but a restoration and a redeeming of one man's life. This is the second book by Dan Walsh that I have read, but I can't wait to read more by him. It was an excellent book and definitely a top book for 2012!
I received this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

The Choice by Robert Whitlow

Sandy Lincoln is an unwed teen in 1974. She seemed to have the perfect life up until she got pregnant. Then everything changed. Forced to choose between having an abortion, which her boyfriend wants, and going to live with her aunt in Atlanta, she decides to move. But on the day of her move, she encounters a woman who gives her a prophecy and a warning. Unsure what to do, Sandy tries to make the best position possible, based on that information. But now she must live with the consequences.
The story then jumps ahead 30 years, and Sandy finds herself a teacher trying to help a young girl like she was, scared and pregnant. But in order to do so, Sandy comes face to face with the consequences of her own choice 30 years earlier.
This is one book I didn't want to put down. It was my first Whitlow book, and I loved every minute of it. I couldn't read this book fast enough. It was a great page turner. I give this book 5 stars! It was one of the best books I have read this year. 
I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Band Of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke

Inspired/Encouraged to write a book about a contemporary issues, Cathy Gohlke, took a modern day issue of slavery and prostitution and set it in a historical setting.
Maureen O'Reilly and her sister, Olivia, leave their homeland of Ireland to head to America in order to came a promise given to their father even before they were born. Maureen survives Ellis Island and is able to leave before Olivia. But Maureen finds out that the family benefactor has died, and his family won't help the O'Reilly's. So Maureen decides to live a lie in order to stay in America. When Olivia is allowed to leave Ellis Island, She doesn't know all that Maureen has done to keep both of them in America. Both Maureen and Olivia see a need to fight for the injustices they see around them, but they don't see the other fighting the same way they are and get mad with each other. Will they be able to put aside their misunderstandings to remember who they are as a family?
I loved reading this book. Gohlke did a masterful job presenting a modern issue in a historical format. I give this book 5 stars! I received this book from Tyndale for the purpose of this review.

Q&A With Cathy Gohlke
1. What motivated you to write Band of Sisters?
I’ve always been fascinated by the abolition of slavery and the civil rights
movement. But I was horrified to learn that there are more than twice as many men, women and children enslaved today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This book was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery, and most of all, to ask, “What can I do to help in a need so desperate?”

2. Why did you choose NYC 1910-1911 to tell this story? And how does human trafficking in that era compare to human trafficking today?
I was inspired by an article I’d read about Alma Mathews. Alma was a small but determined woman who, armed with her umbrella and a hefty douse of fury, stood against dangerous men bent on exploiting immigrant women as they entered the U.S. through Castle Gardens, in old New York City. Alma ushered young women to her home, prepared them for employment, and helped them begin a safe new life in the city. It became a full time ministry involving many—all in the early days of the settlement house movement.
But my editor suggested that I set the story later, when immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island. As I researched that possibility, I found that the problem of exploitation and human trafficking had not only grown during those years, but that the strikes of NYC shirtwaist factory workers had made public the desperate need for women to make a living wage in safe circumstances. Necessary elements for the story and high drama were all a matter of public record—everything from the passing of the Mann Act to address the fear of white slavery to the Triangle Waist Factory fire.
Even though our technology, transportation, communication, etc., is different from the story’s era, many countries today are no further in providing rights and safeguards for women than the U.S. was in 1910. Some are further behind.
Many of the same ruses are used by traffickers to lure women into their snare now as they were then: better paying jobs for themselves and/or money for their families, flirtation, pretense of emotional caring and support, marriage, offers specifically for modeling jobs, offers for education, appeals for help of various kinds, plays on sympathies, etc.
In some cases, after having sex with someone they trusted, or after being drugged and forced into having sex, women or children are/were blackmailed. Fearful that their families will not believe them or will accuse them of promiscuity and reject them, they are afraid and feel compelled to sneak out and “service” men when called. Some are sold to traffickers or users by members of their own family, or by someone they trust.
Once trapped—sometimes after being unwittingly drugged and/or blackmailed— women are often transported far from their home (crossing borders to other states or countries). Held against their will through abuse, enforced poverty, lack of ID, lack of language skills, lack of visas or passports, they may simply not know who to trust or where to go for help in the country in which they find themselves. Isolation, threats to their person or their family, repeated brain washing that they are dirty, worthless,
Q&A for Band of Sisters/Gohlke 2
unwanted, unloved, and good for nothing but sex with paying customers are all tools that traffickers use to intimidate and control their victims.
Fear of what will happen if they try to escape, fear that they have ruined their lives and will have no other way to live, fear for themselves and loved ones, resulting health problems, feelings of hopelessness and a constantly reinforced sense of self- worthlessness all form formidable prisons for victims of trafficking. Even if it seems they can physically escape, they may not be able to break the emotional or mental chains that bind them.
All those things happened then, and they continue to happen to victims today.

3. What research did you do?
My research began with human trafficking today and the fight to abolish modern- day slavery through books, the internet, and through organizations and individuals that are helping in various ways—raising awareness, rescuing, restoring and healing victims, tracking down and prosecuting predators, education of men and boys re. the human rights and intrinsic worth of women, safe houses, etc., and those who fundraise to assist organizations or individuals who are already doing these things.
For historical background I watched documentaries and read (books, old newspapers, archives) about the growth of old New York, the social conditions and desperation of the poor and of immigrants in particular, the disadvantages to those who did not speak English, the unique problems of women and children—the opportunities for and difficulties of making a living wage outside of prostitution, the threats made to women and their families to coerce them into sexual service, of their economic desperation without a male provider, of their few legal rights, and of the unfair treatment women received in court. Those studies led me to the development of the sweatshops, the growth, expansion and revisions of the settlement house movement, the work of Jacob Riis in making the abject poverty of thousands known to the public.
Learning of those conditions led to a special interest in Irish immigrants—their cultural and social strengths and weaknesses, their views of family, their aptitude for and reception in different types of employment in America.
My husband and I made two trips to NYC. From there we conducted research at Ellis Island, took several tours in the Tenement Museum, and bought more research books and maps, including more on the Triangle Waist Factory fire.
Once I knew my storyline, I mapped out locations of the story and trekked through Manhattan, exploring old sites, especially between Mid-town Manhattan, through Washington Square and the surrounding NYU area (including the site of the Triangle fire), the Bowery and the Lower East Side. As I walked, photographed the city, explored, and talked with residents, the voices of my characters erupted. I gladly followed their lead.

4. Band of Sisters takes place in NYC. Do you think human trafficking is limited to large cities?
No. That is why raising awareness of the crime and education re. the methods used by traffickers is so important. Small, rural, isolated or poor communities are targets just as vulnerable as big cities. Traffickers often enter such communities with bogus offers of better jobs, modeling opportunities for young people, and offers for education. But those dreams are crushed when willing applicants are unwittingly sold as sex slaves or used for pornography, with no way to get back to their homes and families. In some cultures, once a girl has been so abused, she is no longer welcome to return to her family, thereby compounding the problem and sense of hopelessness. Education and understanding is desperately needed on all parts.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz

Love's Reckoning is the first book in The Ballantyne Legacy series. In it, Silas Ballantyne is determined to finish his blacksmith apprenticeship, but to do so, he must go to York, Pennsylvania to work under master blacksmith Liege Lee. Lee has two daughters, and it has long been a custom to marry a daughter off to one's apprentice. Lee hopes to marry his oldest daughter off to Silas, but the two daughters are as different as night and day. Will Lee have his way, or will Silas be able to choose his own bride. Will a sibling rivalry turn one sister against the other in hopes of winning Silas' heart?

The first half of the book went rather slow for me. It was easy to put down, but once I got halfway into it, I didn't want the book to end. I look forward to the other books coming out and following Silas Ballantyne and his family through the next 50+ years to the end of the Civil War.
I give this book 4 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

House of Mercy by Erin Healy

Beth wants to become a vet to help their family run their cattle ranch. But one foolish decision threatens to destroy everything her family has worked for over several generations. While Beth tries to do everything she can to fix her mistake, things only seem to get more complicated. Beth feels that her only hope is to go find the grandfather she never met. But she must journey across the mountains on horseback, guided by a wild wolf. Will she find the answers she is looking for? Will her grandfather help her reunite her family?
I had a hard time getting into this book. It seemed too slow for me at the beginning. But I was in the midst of a move when I was reading it, so that didn't help things. I do look forward to going back and reading Healy's previous book, The Baker's Wife, before making any judgments.
I give this book 3.5 stars. I received this book from the B&B Media Group for the purpose of this review.