Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tour de Force by Elizabeth White

Sometimes you see a title of a book and are interested in it, other times the cover makes you pick it up and look at it. Well, with Tour de Force, the cover made me immediately want to read the book, without even reading anything about it. I was so excited for the book just because the cover was so beautiful, and I knew the book was going to be great. And it surely did not disappoint me! I absolutely loved it!!!!
Gilly Kincade is a rising ballet dancer in New York. Because of another dancer’s injury, Gilly was asked to fill in for a lead role. That same night, another former dancer turned choreographer, Jacob Ferrar, was attending the ballet to invite two dancers to be showcased in a special program in Alabama. When Gilly is in Alabama, Jacob asks her to perform a special dance for his board of directors in order to showcase a new ballet. But tragedy hits and Gilly is injured. Will she be able recover and dance again? Will Jacob forgive himself for Gilly’s injury? Will Jacob and Gilly be able to sort out their uncertain future?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Composing Amelia by Alison Strobel

What would you do if everything you had worked to achieve was all for the wrong reasons? This is the case for Amelia and her husband, Marcus. These newlyweds are recent college grads trying to make it in LA while looking for their dream jobs. Both get job offers, Amelia to play piano for a theater troupe in LA, and Marcus to pastor in a small town in Nebraska. Both Amelia and Marcus are so sure that God has opened the door for them to pursue their own dream that they agree to follow their dreams at the risk of hurting their marriage. But will that make them happy or will it have consequences that neither one of them counted on?
I consider this to be the best of Strobel’s four books that I have read so far (though I am told I will like Reinventing Rachel just as much). I couldn’t wait to start reading this book and didn’t want to put it down once I started. Alison Strobel has quickly become one of my favorite writers on par with Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books and see what else she comes out with in the future!!
I received this book from a friend who got this book directly from the author. Thank you so much!

Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Shiloh Jacob’s life is about to change in a very big way. She has been a writer for the Associated Press in Tokyo. Life seems to be going well for her until she plagerizes an article. Her editor doesn’t notice at first, but then it seems like all hell breaks loose in Shiloh’s life. She gets a call that her mother has died and she has to go to Virginia for the funeral. She leaves Tokyo, finds out that she is fired because of the article, finds out her fiance is cheating on her, and thinks she has no where to go. After spending some time in Virginia, discovering the life her mother lived, the life Shiloh never knew about.
I really enjoyed this book and following Shiloh from Tokyo to Virginia. The book was well written and interesting. The characters were all unique and real, and I loved discovering what happened next and following Shiloh as she experienced culture shock being in Virginia and learning about all things Southern.
I can’t wait to read the next book by Jennifer Rogers Spinola, Like Sweet Potato Pie.

The Liberating Truth: How Jesus Empowers Women by Danielle Strickland

From the very first page, this book didn’t sit right with me. In the foreword by Vicky Beeching, she writes that she believes women should be allowed to be pastors, and that women not being allowed to be elders or senior church leaders is damaging theology (14). The author, Danielle Strickland very quickly writes, “Gender-based restrictions are simply old-fashioned and unhelpful tools that do much more harm than good. They need to be done away with, not simply because they contribute to the dissatisfaction of both men and women, but because they limit the people of God. ... This isn’t limited to women, of course. The enemy’s strategy of gender-based restrictions also extends to men and to marriage” (22). She goes on to compare the gender-based restrictions to Islamic women wearing burqas.
I honestly couldn’t read much more than that, that I did skim through the rest of the book. First of all, I do believe that God has chosen to place men in authority and that the role of pastor or shepherd over a church congregation should be a solely male position. I don’t see how a woman can take on that role and still be under a man’s authority. This wasn’t some design of God to oppress women but rather a protection. Secondly, while I believe some “gender-based restrictions” should be and have been done away with, particularly in some jobs such as education, science, math, etc, that does not mean that all “gender-based restrictions should be done away with. Doing away with all “gender-based restrictions” means allowing children to use which ever bathroom they feel like that day, or not even having separate bathrooms in public places. 
While this book has some good points, I cannot in good conscience recommend it. I feel it goes too far in trying to interpret Scripture, leaning towards an egalitarian point of view.

I received this book free from Kregal Publishers for the purpose of this review.

Friday, September 23, 2011

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B Jones

Finley Sinclair’s brother died two years ago, and when he died, she lost her creativity and drive. She has an audition at the Manhattan music conservatory coming up and she can’t finish composing her audition piece. Finley has her brother’s travel journal from when he studied abroad in Ireland. She applies to the same program in order to follow her brother’s footsteps and see in person the places in the photographs from his journal. Finley hopes that in going to Ireland, she can find her creativity again and finish her audition piece.
On the flight to Ireland, Finley finds herself seated next to Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, who is on his way to Ireland to film his latest movie. Finley is not at all taken with Beckett, and seems to be the only girl who isn’t. Finley finds herself running into Beckett again and again. Will Beckett be able to help Finley find all the places in her brother’s journal? Will finding them allow Finley to finish her piece in time for the audition?
I was drawn to this book first because it was set in Ireland. While it is a juvenile fiction book, it was still a fun read. It wasn’t a book that caught me up so much that I couldn’t put the book down, but it was still an enjoyable read and I will enjoy reading it again.

Formerly 34 Photo blog

Well, I meant to do a 34 Photo blog (take and post pictures of things in 34 categories) before the end of the year. However, I have only taken my camera out once since coming back home. And that was this week. Recently we have had a hurricane, tornado, and earthquake in our area. The hurricane took a tree down in our area. It was a tree that I had photographed a year earlier. So I made a special stop after work to take some photos of the tree from the road. Enjoy.

This was the picture I took last December.

This is the same tree and bridge now. 

Bonita, I took this for you for the letter "A"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Barcelona Calling by Jane Kirkpatrick

Annie Shaw has had three of her books published, with the third book about to be released. She has written a fourth and is working with a new editor to get that one ready to be published. But she wants one of her books to be a best seller. The first book was very successful, the second book tanked. So she puts all her hopes on the third and fourth books, going as far as relocating to Chicago to get Oprah to recommend one of her books. Can Annie and her group of friends work to reach her goal of having a best selling book? Or will their plans backfire on them and cause more problems for Annie?
This book was a good read. I enjoyed the story line of an author working to get a book published and to understand all that goes with that. However, this book did not captivate me, or make me not want to put the book down until I finished it. It was a good read, but not a great read. I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stained Glass Hearts: Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective by Patsy Clairmont

We all get hurt at different points in our lives. Some hurts are small like little cracks, other hurts are much bigger and seem to shatter us. Patsy Clairmont show us how God uses those hurts to create something beautiful, just like a piece of stained glass. Clairmont uses the illustration of stained glass to show how broken pieces fit together to make something even more beautiful that what the pieces originally came from. It shows the usefulness of the broken pieces and how the master artist can take those broken pieces to make something beautiful when put together and allowed to have light shown through.
From the back cover: “Stained Glass Hearts is a perspective that gives us the chance to see our potential for color, sparkle, and great purpose through the grace of God.”
I loved Clairmont’s book and how she shared her own struggles with despair, fear, loneliness, and depression to how she was able to overcome those issues. She also included some unique special features in the book to encourage the reader to take a look at beauty around them by looking online for various pieces of art or specific artists or museums, listening to music, reading books or poetry, and specific Scriptures.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Inn at Shinning Waters Series

River’s Song
The Inn At Shining Waters, Book 1
by Melody Carlson
Anna Larson has returned to her childhood home on the river for her mother’s funeral. She stays for a few days after the funeral to sort through some of her mother’s belongings. While out on her grandmother’s canoe, Hazel sees her, and can’t believe her eyes. Hazel is doing research on the local Native American tribes. Anna happens to be Native American. She invites Hazel to see some of her mother and grandmother’s things and allows her to stay in her grandmother’s cabin. Hazel suggests to Anna that the property, which was once a store, might be a good place for an Inn. Anna, tired of living with her mother-in-law’s insults, begins to ponder the idea, but is unsure she could afford to do it. Anna had married young, and her husband never introduced her to his mother. When Anna met her mother-in-law, the mother-in-law thought Anna was hired help. When she found out she was her son’s wife, she began to make Anna’s life miserable. Soon, Anna and her husband had a daughter, and Anna’s husband went off to war. When he return, injured, he had lost more than just part of his physical body. Anna had spent the next 10 years caring for her husband and living under her mother’s roof. Anna had become essentially a slave, doing all the housework, caring for her husband, trying to raise their daughter. When her husband died, Anna’s life didn’t change, at least not until returning to her childhood home. Will Anna have the courage to change her life by making the property into an Inn?
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

River’s Call
The Inn At Shining Waters, Book 2
by Melody Carlson
This book picks up just a couple weeks after River’s Song ends. Anna has indeed turned her family home into an Inn on the river. Her daughter, Lauren, calls suddenly feeling sick. She comes home to the river where she finds out just how her life is about to drastically change, she isn’t sick with the flu like she thinks. She is pregnant! Will Lauren make the right choice about her future? Will she marry the father of her child and with they both grow up and be able to raise their child? Will she give up her child for adoption? Will Anna be able to guide Lauren and support her decision?
River’s Call is in a similar vein as Francine River’s books Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream, dealing with the relationship of women in several generations. Both of Carlson’s books were well written and a joy to read. I cannot wait until the third book is available to read!
This book comes out February 2012
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

I believe book 3 of the series comes out summer of 2012

Worlds Collide by Alison Strobel

Worlds Collide
by Alison Strobel
Jada, a fact checker turned biographer, has always practiced her interview skills pretending to interview Jack Herrington. Harrington, famed tv and movie star has the beginning signs of an illness and wants this one last thing done, to share his story. Grace, raised in Chicago and sick of harsh winters, decides to suddenly move to California. Things fall into place quickly and she finds a place to live and a job. Jack, has been going from one thing to another to find something meaningful. When their worlds collide in a car accident, what will happen?
I felt like this book started off almost like the behind the scenes of a biography with Jada conducting an interview. But by about 1/3 of the way into the book, I was so caught up in the story that it seemed to read much more of a fiction book. The book jumps back and forth between Grace’s story and Jack’s story, which can be confusing at first, but I once I picked up on that, I really enjoyed the story and did not want to put it down until I finished it. Strobel uniquely weaves faith into real life situations, taking a real look at how faith effects various aspects of our lives, or “what faith looks like in the real world”
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read.
I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Marielle Bishop has just married a widower. She moves into his first wife’s family home, Holly Oak, an antebellum home in Fredericksburg, Virgiana, rumored to be haunted by Susannah Page, thought to be a Civil War Spy for the the North. Marielle soon believes that all the women in the house have misfortune come upon them because of Susannah’s ghost. Will Marielle be able to uncover the truth about Susannah? Will she be able to help Holly Oak’s matriarch, Adelaide come to see the truth as well?
Meissner’s writing is beautiful, intriguing and the book is a page turner! I was so excited reading this book that I didn’t want to put it down. It gave color to a history I had only heard about in history books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction or mystery.
This book comes out October 4, 2011.
I received this Advance Reading Copy from Waterbrook Multnomah publishers for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Muir House by Mary DeMuth

This is the best book I have read in quite a while. The story captivated me and I didn’t want to put the book down. Willa Muir grew up in Rockwall, Texas, but went to college in Seattle and just ended up staying there. When her boyfriend Hale proposes to her, she panics and runs. She can’t say yes to his proposal without going back to Texas and sorting out her own history. She returns to the Muir House, a former funeral home turned bed and breakfast to help the caretaker redecorate it while taking the time to search and relive her own past.
Will she and Hale get married? Or will Willa’s own flame, still in Rockwall capture her heart again? Will she be able to find the answers to her past? Will their truth set her free?
This is a wonderful coming of age story that is sure to be read again and again!
I received this book free from Zondervan for the purpose of this review.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Muscular Faith By Ben Patterson

What really matters in life? Is life about working and living well in retirement? If so, then so many people aren’t focusing on that. Instead, I believe life is really about making things count for eternity. Patterson’s book was informative but not very practical. It seemed to focus on one word, “agon” which is translated in Luke 13:24 as “work hard”, “strive”, “make every effort” and carries with it the image of an athletic contest like boxing or wrestling. Thus, Patterson, uses the illustration of a disciplined athlete to show how a believer must be disciplined in his spiritual walk and faith.
While this book did not impress me and I was very disappointed by it, one quote did stand out for me about the difference between God’s desire for us, and Satan’s desire to trap us, or twist God’s words around. “Archbishop William Temple said the world is like a jewelry store that has been broken into by vandals, who have not stolen anything, but simply switched the price tags so that cheap and tawdry things are priced highly, and precious things priced cheaply or discarded as worthless” (page 198)
I received this book free from Tyndale for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It’s Your Kid, Not A Gerbil Br Dr. Kevin Leman

Is your life, or that of your family’s like that of a gerbil? By that I mean are you going around on a wheel constantly running from one thing to another between work, school, sports or other activities. Are you tired of not having time to spend with your family just relaxing and enjoying your time with each other? Then Dr. Leman’s latest book is for you!
Dr. Kevin Leman, author of over 25 books on birth order, parenting, and marriage, writes about practical and creative ways for families to get off the gerbil wheel and encouraging families to spend time together. Dr. Leman’s books are filled with humorous stories about his own life and that of his family’s, as well as other stories that help illustrate his points. Any parent tired of the gerbil wheel and wanting to spend time getting to know their own children better will not be sorry they picked up this, or any other, book by Dr. Kevin Leman.
I received the galleys of this book free from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Dirty Girls Come Clean By Crystal Renauld

All too often, people see pornography as solely a male issue. While in years past, it may have been a male issue, with the rise of the latchkey kids (kids who are home alone after school until dinner time or later) and the rise of the internet, pornography is a growing issue for women. It is estimated that close to 50% of pornography users are now women.
Dirty Girls Come Clean was written by a woman who had been addicted to pornography starting when she was a preteen. Renauld wrote the book after dealing with her own struggle and gaining victory over pornography and helping others gain victory in their own struggles. In helping others, she could only find books that dealt with men’s issues of pornography.
Dirty Girls Come Clean gives a recovery process for women who are struggling with an addiction to pornography including telling someone about the struggle and having someone keep them accountable.. But it also tells the story of several women’s struggle with pornography. Not all of these women have conquered their addiction at the time of writing, but they have made progress in conquering their addiction.
I highly recommend this book for anyone struggling with an addiction to pornography, or anyone who in a position to counsel someone with an addiction.
If you are looking for more information on overcoming an addiction to pornography, Crystal Renauld’s website is:
I received the galley of this book free from Net Galley.
To buy this book on Amazon: