Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Top Ten Reads From 2013

It was TOUGH to narrow my list down to only 10! Very tough! There were quite a few books that just *barely* missed getting on here. I read some great books in 2013!

Here we go, though. I did pick one book as #1, but the others are in no order whatsoever.

***********************



Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

I never wrote a "review" for this book, unfortunately. Every time I tried to get my thoughts out, I couldn't capture JUST how much I adored it. It's one that you'll need tissues to read, and one that keeps you thinking long after closing the last page. Despite being a YA book, there was just so much for adults to think on, too. It would truly make an amazing book club read. I HIGHLY recommend it, though!! It's a *beautiful* story.

************************




The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple Mysteries) by Agatha Christie

(My Review)

I'm so excited I finally gave this book a try. It was a perfect mystery for me, meaning it gave my brain a workout, without nightmares.

************************



Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I (Ladies in Waiting) by Sandra Byrd

(My Review)

It's with Sandra's books that I learned just how fascinating I find the Tudor period. I'm beyond grateful that she's provided me a way to read during that time period AND keep it clean. That's no easy task! Roses Have Thorns was my favorite of the series. I loved Sandra's unique take on Queen Elizabeth I.

*****************************



Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

(My Review)

My Word, this was one beautiful, romantic story!

**************************



Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos by Vicki Courtney

(My Review)

I fell in love with Vicki's writing, and I can't wait to read more!

***************************



Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

(My Review)

Complete corniness, and I loved every minute of it.

******************************



The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

(My Review)

This was a fun, silly escape, with lots of fairy tale twists. As much as I loved this book, I'm ashamed that I haven't already picked up the next one, which is waiting so very patiently for me.

*****************************



The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

(My Review)

I STILL think about this book, and tears come to my eyes every time. It's a pretty special book to me now!

****************************



Dragonwitch (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #5) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

(My Review)

What more can I say about Anne Elisabeth's writing?! I adore it!(And, all of the Tales of Goldstone Wood kindle books are on sale for 1.99 and under!)

***************************



How to Catch a Bogle (City of Orphans) by Catherine Jinks

(My Review)

My #1 read of the year, y'all! As I put in my super quick summary: A big dose of Ghostbusters + little dose of Sherlock Holmes + 1870s London, England = one of my favorite books of the year! I'm still upset that I have to wait so long for the next book, though. ;)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mistaken by Karen Barnett



Mistaken: First Impressions Are Never What They Seem by Karen Barnett

Abingdon Press (July 2, 2013) 352 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Laurie works, and then comes home to take care of her drunken father. Her brother has got himself tangled with the wrong crowd, and now two new men have entered her life. She's tired of being let down by the men in her life, and she's confused about the possibility of love.

Mistaken takes place in 1920s Port Angeles, Washington and revolves around Prohibition. I enjoyed getting lost in this time period. Although I love reading historical fiction, this isn't a time period I travel to very often.

The characters, especially Laurie, won me over quickly. I enjoyed watching them grow. As the title says, first impressions are never what they seem, and that's a big lesson for everyone to learn.

I greatly enjoyed this book, and I can't wait to see what Barnett writes next!

*Thank you to Amazon Vine and Abingdon Press for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The One Year My Princess Devotions: Preschool Edition by Karen Whiting



The One Year My Princess Devotions: Preschool Edition by Karen Whiting

Tyndale Kids (August 16, 2013) 400 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

It's a bit unusual to see a girly book at my blog, considering I have 3 boys. We did manage to get 2 nieces(both from my brother), while the rest of us had boys. (3 sons and 8 nephews) ;) This looked perfect for my oldest niece(4), though, so I thought I'd give it a try.

It's a very girly book! The cover even has the raised glittery parts to the picture. The pages are pink! Everything within this book is different shades of pink and purple, even the writing. There's ladybugs, flowers, and crowns surrounding each of the devotions. I imagine I would have been one excited little girl to have this as a child.

The book focuses some on outward beauty, as well as spiritual beauty. For that reason, I think some people won't like this book. It teaches little girls to take care of themselves physically, like brushing their hair and putting on sunscreen, and there's even one devotion that challenges the reader to practice walking gracefully(with good posture). As someone that's not so graceful, I think these kinds of things are important to learn as a child! If you want no kind of focus on outward appearance whatsoever, this probably won't be the best fit for your family.

The devotions teach little girls that they are special and God created them just the way He wanted. I think every little girl deserves to feel special and beautiful. It also challenges them with inner beauty, too, though!

Just to give you an idea of what to expect, here's an example of one of the devotions:

August 10

No More Tears

Royal Words
"[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be." Revelation 21:4

Princess Thoughts
God tell us that there will be no tears and no pain in heaven. That's good news. Our sad times and tears on earth can help us appreciate happier times.

A Prayer for the King
Father King, thanks for wiping away my tears and letting me know a little more about heaven.

Princess in Action
Make a card for someone who is sad or sick. Let the person know that God cares.

There's a devotion for each day of the year within this book(no extra day for leap year, in case that's something anyone is curious about). They are super short, BUT I think they are wonderful conversation starters. Plus, on those days that time is even shorter than normal, these won't take long at all, and you'll still get a little lesson in the day.

As with all devotional books, there were some of these that I liked more than others. If I had a little girl, I'd probably end up skipping some of them, or really adding to the lesson. Some of them seemed a little confusing. I wasn't sure exactly what the devotion was getting at.

Overall, though, I liked this book. If I had a little girl, I could see us having quite a bit of fun within these pages. So much, that it makes me a little sad that I don't have a little princess. That is, until I think about my 3 precious little knights, and I get over it. ;)

*Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira(WITH GIVEAWAY X 3!!!!)



Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira

River North (August 20, 2013) 272 pages

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Mercy is a teenage girl, but her father thinks of her as the "son" he never had. She works on her dad's farm, driving his truck to hire and pick up Maliseet men to help on the farm. She picks potatoes and vegetables and moves rocks, right along with all the men.

When racial tensions toward the Maliseet start growing larger in her small town, Mercy's world starts changing.

As y'all may know by now, I'm always drawn to stories with Native American content. Learning that this was one of those books, I knew I had to read it. The storyline deals with how the Maliseet were mistreated and the prejudice that was shown to them.

Despite the way it seems at the beginning, I adored the sweet relationship between Mercy and her parents. I thought it was a little odd that she called her dad, "Mr. Pop", but she has a wonderful family life. While she's described as a "tomboy", wearing pants and doing the "man" work, she still comes off as a little lady, to me. (Although, I'm not saying tomboys aren't ladies!)

I enjoyed reading about farm life. While it was hard work, it still comes off sounding so refreshing. At one point in the story, we get to take a "tour" of the mom's pantry. Oh, how lovely it sounded!

There is a romance within this story, and while the story actually revolves largely around this romance, it still isn't the main focus, in my opinion. This is, more than anything, a sweet "coming of age" story. While I definitely consider it a young adult book, I do think it can be enjoyed by many adults, too.

Shades of Mercy was a relaxing read for me, even with the tough issues tackled. I enjoyed my time within its pages!

*A huge "Thank You" to River North for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

THE GIVEAWAY!!


River North very generously sent me 3 extra copies to give away to y'all! If you'd like to read this book, just leave a comment with your e-mail.

Extra entries:

Advertise in any way(Facebook, Twitter, etc). Each way will get you one extra entry!

-Winner will be chosen by Random.org
-US only
-Ends Jan. 3, 2014(Due to the holidays I'll keep this one open a little longer than normal.)
-Must be 13 or older.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Greetings from the Flipside by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay



Greetings from the Flipside by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay

B&H Books (October 15, 2013) 320 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I hadn't really planned on reading this book right now, but I saw a reviewer mention that this was the strangest book she'd read in a long time. Well, that was enough for me! Christian fiction doesn't tend to overly sway to the "odd" side very often, especially in the realistic(ish) realm. Being quite the odd person myself, I feel a strong pull towards books that dare to be weird.

Hope lives on the sarcastic side of life, and she feels the need to rewrite greeting cards. Who needs rainbows and butterflies all the time?! She thinks a nice, sarcastic touch of humor is just the thing needed to make it through the tough moments of life.

When Hope's fiancé doesn't show up on their wedding day, some unusual turn of events land Hope in a coma. From there, the story alternates between reality and "coma world". I think, especially at the beginning, the authors had a blast making the "flipside" as odd as possible. I kept laughing at how ridiculous it was. I loved it! ;) The great thing about it, for me, was the fact that they still keep everything realistic. As "out there" as everything is, it's still possible.

Hope's momma was the highlight of the story for me! Sometimes(mostly) I wanted to smack her upside the head, but other times, I liked her. Either way, she added a great deal of color to an already colorful story.

As the story progresses, the oddness wears thinner and thinner. The story becomes more and more emotional. At one point, I had chills run down my spine as tears flooded my vision. It turned into a sweet story, and one that I don't think I'll forget.

Overall, if you'd enjoy a walk in the weird side for a little while, I *highly* recommend you give this story a try!

*For anyone that has read this book: What was up with the cats?! Did I miss what their meaning was? This is the second book I've read in the past few months that left me wondering about the cats. (The Real Boy being the other read.)

**Thank you to B&H Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Mailbox Monday(December 16th, 2013)



Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia. For the month of December, Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Rose City Reader.

The most exciting thing in my book world this week is the fact that I can now check out e-books from the library! :D Check out THIS post @Books: A True Story if you are as clueless as I was last week.

Here's my books this week:

Library E-books:



The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale





The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan

For Review:



The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen




Bedtime Prayers That End with a Hug! by Stephen Elkins


Bought from Abebooks.com:



The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

This book was my pick for the Reading to Know Classic Book Club 2014. I actually ordered the next book in the series, too, but it hasn't arrived yet.

I'm just itching to read these things!!! :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Max's Little Brother by Eric James



My Thoughts:

Today's post is a bit different. Max's Little Brother hasn't been published yet. The author, Eric James, has the book listed at Kickstarter.com. If you'd like to pass on a random act of kindness and donate to his publishing cause, just click on that link. :)

I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book! I wish it had been around when Bumblebee was on the way, and it would have been THE perfect read. Of course, it's still a wonderful read NOW! My boys are always fighting with each other, but each have a deep love for each other.

As you can guess from the title, this book is about Max. When a little brother is added to the family, he doesn't understand WHY he wasn't enough. Max is so mean to his little brother that he ends up leaving. The ending was actually my favorite part. No matter how many times I read it, I always end up with a smile on my face!

The story is told in rhyme, which always thrills my reading heart. There's nothing like reading a fun, rhyming story to my boys. The pictures are sweet, and fit with the story perfectly. Check out the Max's Little Brother webpage for a sampling.

I thought Max's Little Brother was a wonderful read and one that any child with a sibling will be able to relate to all too well!

*The author provided me with access to the book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer by Beth Moore With GIVEAWAY!!!!



Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer by Beth Moore

B&H Books (October 1, 2013) 232 pages

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

I'm typically pretty untrusting of big name authors in the Christian world. Too often, money talks, and makes it too easy for these authors to ignore certain things the Bible teaches.

Admittedly, I didn't know much at all about Beth's ministry. I tried to do some research on her, and as you would expect, we don't have the same theology with everything. I saw a couple of people mention that she leans towards mysticism. I didn't get that from this book! It is the one and only book of hers I've read, though. I did start her David study, but never finished it(time issue there). So, I reserve the right to take my positive opinions of her away if I discover anything I feel is "out there" in her other books.

My opinion of this book is very positive, though! It ended up being very different than I thought. Based on the title, I thought it was going to be a study on prayer. Prayer is something in my life that I want to improve, so I jumped at the chance to read this book. It's actually 70 devotionals pertaining to different subjects that apply to our Christian life. For review purposes, I read straight through. I don't recommend that! The lessons come across disjointed at that point. They are made to be studied one per day. I'm not the best at the "one-a-day" kind of studies, but this can make an excellent study when read this way!

Each devotional consists of 3 pages. The first page is the devotional itself. The second and third pages are journaling pages to write and practice prayer. These pages are divided into sections.

Praise
Repentance
Acknowledgement
Intercession
Supplication for Self
Equipping
(Thanksgiving is included in each of those sections, too.)

Beth takes a few pages at the beginning of the book to explain this prayer method. The rest of the book is putting it to practice, and learning ways to improve our Christian walk.

Physically, this is a *beautiful* book! If you have a Beth Moore fan on your Christmas list, this is a gorgeous pick! The pages have the "torn" look around the edges. This is a feature of a book that always makes me feel the book is even more special. ;)

So far, I really like Beth Moore's style! I'm now looking forward to digging into some of her other books. As far as this one, I definitely recommend it!

*A huge "Thank You" to Caylen at Icon Media Group and B&H Publishing for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Congratulations to Cindi!!!!

THE GIVEAWAY!!!

If you'd like to win a copy of this book(or you'd like to enter for someone else!), just leave a comment with your email address.

Extra Entries:

Tweet, Post, Facebook, or advertise in any way and leave me a comment telling me so(one extra entry per advertisement!)


-US only
-Ends December 17th
-Winner will be selected by Random.org

Friday, December 6, 2013

God is Able by Priscilla Shirer With GIVEAWAY!!!



God is Able by Priscilla Shirer

B&H Books (October 1, 2013) 157 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

With this book, Shirer takes Ephesians 3:20-21, and breaks it up into somewhat of a Bible study. She includes lots of personal stories within those lessons.

I have mixed feelings about this book. For the most part, I didn't overly connect with it. For weeks now, we've been battling sickness in our home, especially the last two weeks. Between the vomiting, day and night, extra laundry, fevers, sleep deprivation at a whole new level, and my own case of bronchitis on top, I'm worn out. While there are much more serious issues happening out there, the days were/are getting harder and harder to survive through it all. I picked up this book to encourage me. God IS able to pull me through these dark days. To say I didn't overly connect with the book, though, may be more my own fault.

It never overly grabbed my attention or blew me away while reading. At some point through the book, I realized that it reads like an audio lesson(with lots of sentence fragments, and periods after words). I also realized that I could *possibly* really like this book as an audio!

Also, the author and I *don't* share the same theology, just so you know. I know that more from reading at her website than the book, though. Through the first 3/4ths of the book or so, I didn't overly connect with her. She seems more of a "new age"(for lack of better wording) Christian, and I'm an old fashioned, conservative kind of Christian. For example, social media in the midst of a worship service and The Message version of the Bible both make me do some serious cringing. ;) (Let me assure you right now that there is plenty in my life that could make you cringe, too. I don't say all that judgmentally! It will help you understand and know if this is a book you'd benefit from, though.)

All of that said, I did benefit from reading this book. It was by no means a waste of time! I smiled at many of the stories, and with the last part of the book, I connected more. The author has 3 little boys, and I do, too. I couldn't help but connect with those stories. There's one particular section where she talks about God helping her find things that she's lost that really won me over. *I* could have wrote that part!!

"But God knows this trait of mine and is patiently working on it in me. In the meanwhile, He understands who I am-and where I an in life-and so this has become one of the special ways I receive His love for me, enough that it has almost become a standing joke between us. My keys. My phone charger. Important papers. He finds them for me."

This whole part just makes me smile that I've found someone else out there that does the same thing. I lose things ALL the time. I will look and look and look for that lost item, only to realize that I haven't asked for God's help yet. I'll pray for him to help me, and "There it is!" I'm learning to pray about it sooner, rather than later!

The author does a wonderful job of making sure the reader understands that God is there for us through *everything*, no matter how big or small. It's nice to be reminded of that!

Overall, this is a quick, light read! It has some wonderful reminders for all of us. I think some of you will really connect with the book. Actually, a great deal of people DO connect with Priscilla, so I encourage you to give this book a try despite the fact that I didn't completely connect with it! She does have a fun personality that shines through the pages!

*A huge "Thank You" to Caylen at Icon Media Group and B&H Publishing for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Congratulations to Juju!

THE GIVEAWAY!!!

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, just leave a comment with your email address.

Extra Entries:

Tweet, Post, Facebook, or advertise in any way and leave me a comment telling me so(one extra entry per advertisement!)


-US only
-Ends December 13th
-Winner will be selected by Random.org