Monday, November 28, 2011

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

Clara Endicott is one of a rare breed; she is a female journalist in 1879. She has made a name for herself by writing about London’s poor and seeking reform, which lands her in a London jail. When she returns home to America, Clara finds herself reacquainted with her childhood sweetheart, Daniel Tremain, formerly a factory worker who now is a giant in the railroad transportation industry. A resentment from years past is eating Daniel alive and fueling his success, while at the same time, preventing him from going any further. Clara believes that God’s grace and forgiveness is the answer to Daniel having peace. But Daniel wants nothing to do with God. However, when one of Daniel’s enemies puts Clara’s life in danger, Daniel finds himself in a position he never thought he would be in. Will Daniel and Clara be able to get past the resentment and forge a new path together or will the differences from their past drive them apart?
The moment I started this book, I loved it. I did not want to put it down and go to bed or go to work. It was an amazing book and definitely one of the top books that I have read this year! I can’t wait to read Ms. Camden’s second book, The Rose of Winslow Street coming out in January.
I received this book from Elizabeth Camden for the purpose of this review.

Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Miss Georgie Gail is a switchboard operator in rural Texas. She is proud of her independence in a world run by men. So when the telephone company sends in a man to check on Miss Gail and her work, she is very put out. However, Luke Palmer, the man sent by the telephone company is not what he seems. He is a Texas Ranger whose goal is to infiltrate and capture a group of train robbers that have eluded him several times previously. Palmer’s new task is to repair telephones while trying to seek out the train robbers, which does not make the task very easy. Despite that, things change for Palmer when he realizes his job has put Georgie in danger.
I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the life and opportunities of women  over 100 years ago. While I won’t count it as one of the top books that I have read this year, it was a good book and I do recommend reading it.
I received this book free from Bethany House for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Names of God Bible

The Names of God Bible
Ann Spangler, General Editor
God’s Word Translation
Revell Publishing
Translation: While many translations lean towards literal or dynamic translations, the God’s Word Translation seeks to be a Closest Natural Equivalence translation. It does exactly what it says it does. It give the most natural English translation from the original languages. This translation tries to avoid the “awkward and inaccuracy associated with formal-equivalent translatiosn, and to avoid the loss of meaning and oversimplification associate with functional-equivalent translations (Preface). For those that grew up using a particular version, the wording may catch one of balance. But it seems to be a very accurate translation.
The Names of God: I like this feature, but it is awkward for one who isn’t used to it. However, since so many names of God are translated God, Lord, LORD, etc, it can be hard to tell the difference between which word was used once it has been translated into English. The one fault I see is that only highlights all the Hebrew words that refer to God and not the Greek, which I would have like to have seen as well.
Extras: With each name of God that is highlighted in the text, there is a special page that explains the specific name, along with the promises that are associated with that name. Each book of the Bible gives a brief introduction and lists the key names of God within that book. The extras in the back include the following: Topical Prayer Guide For The Names of God, Table of the Names of God (and the number of times used in the Bible), Name Index, The Names of God Fast Track Reading Plan, Reading Plans (Daily Reading Plan, Fast Track Reading Plan - overview of the Bible in 100 readings)
Summary: This is a unique Bible. It makes understanding the various names of God easy to understand and see the differences. I love how the various names in the Old Testament are explained. The translation is easy to read and understand.

I received this book free from Revell and Baker Publishing for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The House of Hope by Elisabeth Gifford

The House of Hope
by Elisabeth Gifford
What a true story of hope! God shows his love to orphans through the hands of His servants. Robin and Joyce Hill gave up the life they knew as wealthy expatriates to care for abandoned orphans, many of which had medical problems, in China. In 10 years, the Hill’s have helped more than 1,000 children get the needed urgent care needed to live, surgeries for more serious medical problems, even helping numerous children get adopted. Each chapter is filled with hope and miracles. God has provided for this family and the children they are caring for in so many ways.
I enjoyed reading about each and every one of the miracles in the book. After knowing friends who have adopted children from China, it was a chance to get to know a little about the life of the children before getting adopted.
I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group for the purpose of this review.
One couple's powerful ministry to some of China's most vulnerable children

Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family's life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care-terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value.

"I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
--Steven Curtis Chapman

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blue Envelope books by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes
By Maureen Johnson
Ginny’s favorite aunt has left Ginny with 13 blue envelopes, each with instructions to do something different. Ginny has to first decide if she will follow her aunt’s instructions of up and leaving her life temporarily to go on this grand adventure and doing each task before opening the next envelope. These envelopes lead Ginny of an adventure across Europe. Ginny, unexpectedly, gets to see Europe through her aunts eyes and find out what happened during the last years of her aunt’s life.
While this book was intended for teens, I loved it! It is a book I want to read and reread over and over again! I loved getting to see Europe differently, traveling to some of the most famous tourist locations, but also going down the back streets to find some undiscovered places and people. 13 Little Blue Envelopes was such a joy to read!
The Last Little Blue Envelope
by Maureen Johnson
This books starts a few months after the end of 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Ginny thought her grand adventure had been cut off early with no hope for a grand ending after her book bag and the envelopes were stolen. But Ginny receives an email saying that someone found her bag with the envelopes. She had read and followed the first 12 envelopes, but never had the chance to open the 13th envelope. Ginny returns to Europe to meet the man who has her book bag and the envelopes. Where will her grand adventure take her? Her last adventure was filled with instructions, and this adventure seems to have none.
While many sequels are not as good as the original book, this was just as good. I loved reading it and it was a satisfying read that I devoured. I look forward to reading Maureen Johnson’s other books.

I got both of these books from the Amazon Kindle store.

The Heart of Memory by Alison Strobel

Savannah Trover is a Christians writer and speaker, while her husband, Shaun, runs their ministry from the home office. When Savannah returns home from her latest tour, she is not just sick or worn out. She is in desperate need of a heart transplant! Before she is able to have surgery, she comes face to face with reality - she has been deluding her self about her faith by putting on a show instead of living out her faith. All the while, her husband, Shaun, is, first of all, scared about his wife’s odd behavior after her surgery, and, second, desperately trying to keep a secret from coming to light.
Between the two of them, it seems their ministry is doomed to fail. Will everything come out in the open and be exposed? When their faith is tested, will they break or become stronger and better?
Over the last 6 months, I have read all but one of Strobel’s books and I rather this as one of her top three books so far. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to curl up with a good book!

Wait No More by Kelly and John Rosati

Adoption is a process that can take several months, even a few years. There can be many discouraging steps along the journey, but as John and Kelly Rosati share, there are also many joys.
The Rosati’s pursued domestic adoptions through the foster care system here in the USA. They were open to the plans God had for them. Their goal was to “simply be available to God and just see what happens.” And God blessed them with 4 adopted children: Daniel, Anna, Joshua, and Hope. Each child and their story of adoption is truly a miracle.
This book was a quick, enjoyable read. Many books on adoption experiences are about international adoptions, so it was nice to read about adoptions happening in our own country. If you are even remotely interested in adoptions, this will be an inspiring read.
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of this review.

Reinventing Rachel by Alison Strobel

This has quickly become my favorite book by Alison Strobel. It gave a good picture of many churches today, people know of God and even believe God, but they don’t always allow Him to really transform their life. Rachel seems to have the perfect life. She follows God, had a good life growing up, has a good job, and has a good fiance. However, in a matter of 24 hours, everything changes. Rachel’s family falls apart, she finds out her fiance has been cheating on her, and another friend is going to rehab for a drug addiction. On a whim, Rachel agrees to meet a friend in Las Vegas for a weekend getaway. While there, she decides to embrace the changes in her life and reinvent herself. She picks up her life in California and moves to Chicago. She finds a new job, a new guy, and a whole new life, forsaking all she knew and was to find her new self. Will she be happy in this new life, or will it all fall apart to?
I got this book from the Amazon Kindle store.

Longing by Karen Kingsbury

This is the third installment of Bailey Flanigan's story. Bailey is in NYC dancing on Broadway. She is torn between her first love, Cody Coleman, and the man who has captured her heart, Brandon Paul, Hollywood’s teen heart throb.  The chapters flip between Bailey’s story and Cody’s and sometimes intersect with each other. Cody continues to coach football in a small town, and his team has garnered national attention. Cody continues his friendship with Cheyenne, but something terribly unexpected happens. Bailey continues dancing on Broadway and dating Brandon. Brandon and Bailey both fly across the country to spend time with each other and getting to know each other on a deeper level. Will Bailey and Cody be able to find their way back to each other, or will Brandon have Bailey’s heart.
While I enjoyed this book and have enjoyed all of Karen Kingsbury’s books, I felt like the story was dragging on a bit. I did enjoy more of Cody’s story than Bailey’s.
I received the galleys of the book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn

Reading any of Gunn’s books are like meeting or catching up with old friends. Coming Attractions is the third book in the Katie Weldon series, following Katie through the last few months of college at Rancho Corona University before she graduates. Katie is an RA on Crown Hall along with Nicole. Todd and Christy live nearby and continue to be some of Katie’s closest friends along with her boyfriend Rick and Eli, who is Rick’s roommate.
In Coming Attractions, Katie feels ready to move forward in her relationship with Rick and is thinking she may even be ready for the word “engaged”. But while Rick is busy with the openings of his new cafes, it is Eli who is there for Katie when she needs it. However, regardless of how things turn out, Katie comes to understand that with God, the coming attractions are always wonderful surprises!
I received this book free from Zondervan for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Like Sweet Potato Pie by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

This is the sequel to Southern Fried Sushi, and it was just as good as the first book. Like Sweet Potato Pie picks up where Southern Fried Sushi ended, following Shiloh’s life in Staunton, VA. It is a great look at an outsider’s view on Southern life.
In Like Sweet Potato Pie, Shiloh has to face more consequences of spending so much money trying to fit in when she lived in Japan. But she won’t face those consequences alone. With friends around her to encourage her and question her, Shiloh finds her footing in this new time in her life.
This book is filled with love, friendship, and what it means to be there for other people. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to curl up with a good read.
Southern Fried Sushi came out October 1, 2011
Like Sweet Potato Pie will come out March 1, 2012
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Decision Points by President George W. Bush

While not everyone agrees with his politics or his decisions made while in office, George W. Bush explains some of his decisions and the background of those circumstances and decisions that may not have been understood by the public at the time. It is a very open and honest biography that covers the War of Terrorism, Katrina, stem cells, personnel choices, and more.
This is not a chronological biography, but rather reflections on specific events or topics. Thus, while the biography is not comprehensive, it does cover the major events of President Bush’s time in office.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, current events, or biographies.
I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.