Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013
These are books that I have been meaning to read for a long time or I think everyone should read!

1. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: I feel like the only person in the world who hasn't read this one.

2. Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray: I've been told it's really good.  Many people have recommended it to me.

3. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan: This one's going to be tough, but I have the internet to help me out!

4. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: A modern classic, I've been told.

5. 1984 by George Orwell: Another one I feel everyone but me has read.  I need to get on with it so I can know Big Brother.

6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccoult: I haven't read the book or seen the movie!

7. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan: I have read the first two and I resolve to finish the series this year!

8. Holes by Louis Sachar: I loved his Wayside Stories series and I really enjoyed the movie.

9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett: I haven't read the book or seen the movie.  I'm behind the times!

10. Dracula by Bram Stoker: The only vampire novel I will allow myself to read at the moment.

I could have made it easy and gone with books sitting in my to read pile, but I didn't. I went with books I've been meaning to read for a long time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: Following Yonder Star by Martin D. Gibbs

DNF


I feel bad I did not finish this book.  No matter how much I hate a book I will do my best to get to the end.  I didn't hate this book.  Last week was a busy week with Christmas preparations and all that, I found it so difficult to get into this story.  I read without retaining anything.  I was in the middle of the book and the only clue I had to what was going on was that these were The Three Wise Men.  I didn't a recall a star being mentioned or them joining together for their journey.  I was really confused and my brain told me to stop.  I promised to post a review so the following is the Goodreads synopsis for the book.

On a cold December night in Bethlehem, three mysterious foreign rulers paid homage to the newborn King of Man. They promptly vanished into history.

Who were these unequaled men? What hardships did they endure on their voyage? How much did they sacrifice of themselves?

This story details their harrowing journey across deserts, through a suffocating moor, over a towering mountain, and into the chamber of Herod. Throughout, they were tested by the devil and themselves. But at each test, they reaffirmed their strength, determination, and faith. The Three Kings persevered: So can we.

Following Yonder Star is a story that will reinforce the true meaning of Christmas.



Book Review: Running Around (and Such) (Lizzie Searches for Love #1) by Linda Byler




Lizzie questions a lot of things about her Amish life like why can't she wear higher heels and a looser hairstyle?  And most of all, why does her family have to move to a new house to become farmers?  What is she going to do in a new town without a lot of kids her age?  Who will she and her two sisters pair up with if there are not enough boys to go around?

Unlike many Amish stories I have read this one has a very distinct modern feel to it.  Lizzie puts Clearasil on her acne that her sisters, Mandy and Emma, do not have.  The girls are worried about their weight.  Emma and Mandy are thin, but Lizzie is not.  Most Amish stories I've read the characters don't care.  They eat high calorie foods without any thought.  Actually, the thought is they need to nourish themselves well for all the work they have to do.

That's what brings me to the 3.25 star rating.  It was a good story.  Lizzie's not your typical Amish character.  She isn't happy to do all that is expected of her, including and especially being a maude.  The problem is it felt too modern, like these were English (as the Amish call them) characters put in the Amish world.  You know, fitting a square peg in a round hole.  They didn't quite fit.

Of course, who am I to say what the Amish are really like?  This may actually be more indicative of their lives than the other "traditional" stories we have read.  Not having spent much time with them I cannot say I know for sure, but it would seem a little odd that this is the "real" story and the others are not one bit accurate.

I read this as a review request from Netgalley using Adobe Digital on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Videos: Jesus, Savior by Chris August, One Silent Night by Jaci Velasquez, & Gloria by Michael W. Smith

Merry Christmas! Hope you have a very wonderful day. My gift to you are three Christmas videos. I hope you are in the Christmas spirit and if not, I hope these tunes are able to get you there!

♬Jesus, Savior, Son of God, the King of Kings, our salvation has a name♬  The first video I give you is "Jesus, Savior" by Chris August. ♬Our whole world's about to change.♬



Jaci Velasquez's version of "Silent Night" is a harmonious mix of "Silent Night" and her most popular song "For God So Loved the World."



Rounding out the music today is Michael W. Smith, one of my favorite artists, singing his Christmas tune "Gloria (Angels We Have Heard on High)" Can't have Christmas without a Michael W. Smith or two or three...(he's got that many Christmas albums!). This is a very orchestral and choir version of "Angels We Have Heard on High." I thoroughly enjoy it and imagine playing it in the church orchestra myself.



As a bonus I provide to you from Handel's Messiah, "The Hallelujah Chorus" performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!



Yes, this is a 2014 production, but that's because the original video I chose was made private.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Videos: The First Noel by TobyMac & O Holy Night by Mariah Carey

What I really want to open up with today is Kevin Max's version of "The First Noel". It is so beautiful, oh my gosh. Kevin Max is a former member of DC Talk and the news is he's the new lead singer of Audio Adrenaline! He's got such a great voice. He has also joined former bandmate Michael Tate on a few Newsboys tunes. This tune is so beautiful, like I said, and I can't find a video for it! It makes me sad that no one has put one up on Youtube or anywhere. I can't believe it's not more popular than it is. I heard it a few Christmases ago on XM Radio and haven't heard it since. :(

Since I can't find Kevin Max's version, I've put up a version done by his other former bandmate, Toby McKeehan aka TobyMac. This one features Owl City. It's much more upbeat than the Kevin Max version.



 Being that this Christmas Eve, I give you another video. Mariah Carey's most famous Christmas tune is "All I Want for Christmas is You", but today, I bring you one that I think is much better. Here is "O Holy Night".



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Video: Mary Did You Know by Clay Aiken

I have heard many versions of this tune and Clay Aiken's is my favorite.  It shows the pureness and roundness, if you will, of his voice (and he should have won season 2 of American Idol).




Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Video: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen does not get it's Christmas due.  I think it's a fabulous song, but it is not heard as much as more popular tunes.  This cover by The Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan is a treat.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Video: Silent Night by Boyz II Men

One of the most beautiful versions of Silent Night I have ever heard.  I loved Boyz II Men growing up and I still think they're music is pretty cool today, maybe not so much new stuff, but the old stuff, definitely.  It's true, they could sing the phone book a cappella and it would sound good.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Video: Little St. Nick by The Beach Boys

♬Oooh...Merry Christmas, Santa.  Christmas comes this time each year.♬

I love The Beach Boys and this is my favorite Christmas song by them.  If you haven't figured it out Little St. Nick is not Santa.




Book Review: No Ordinary Excuse by Michelle Adams




A great story for readers at the middle grade level.

Gemma Martin woke up the day her project was due to find she'd forgotten to do it!  She promised her parents she'd straighten up and fly right, but she'd already messed up.  What was she going to do?  In comes her incredible imagination and her dream to be an actress.  She dreams up the most incredible excuse to buy herself some time.

As the days go by the excuse gets bigger and bigger.  It's gone beyond Gemma and her teacher to the whole school.  It's made her popular and made others jealous.  It's taken over Gemma's life and that isn't a good thing!

Michelle Adam's debut junior fiction novel really packs a punch.  It sends an important message all kids should learn.  Excuses can be lies and they can get the liar in trouble.  Telling the truth in the beginning can solve all the problems.  All excuses and lies do are create new ones.  If Gemma had told the truth to begin with she may have gotten just what she wanted--extra days to work on the project.  Although, if she had done the project before it was due she wouldn't have been in the mess to begin with!

I read this review request from Netgalley using Adobe Digital Editions on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Video: Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

For the final week before Christmas I will be posting one Christmas video day, with two on Christmas Eve, and three on Christmas.

Today's video is "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant.  It's a very beautiful song.  It brought tears to my brother's eyes when he first heard it.  My dad has fallen in love with it this year and has forced me to find our Amy Grant Home for Christmas CD (it's somewhere in the house).  Fortunately, there's this thing called Youtube where I can pull up the video and listen to the song whenever I want even if I don't find the CD.  There is no official music video so I pulled up the best one from Youtube.



Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can playing along!  Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

  • Before returning to his job, he'd sat down with Swede and me and asked if we felt ready to undertake classes and sociability again, or whether we'd like another week at home.
    What do you think we were, idiots?
    P. 63 Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday



    Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

    1. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
    2. Covenant Child: A Story of Promises Kept by Terri Blackstock
    3. Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, a Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold by Bryan Clay
    4. Mockingjay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
    5. Room by Emma Donoghue
    6. Finding the Baby Jesus by Kimball Fisher
    7. The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig
    8. Twelve Months by Steven Manchester
    9. Wonder by RJ Palacio
    10. Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

    It's fun to look back at what I've read this past year.  A trip down reading memory lane it is.  This year I didn't rate anything one star, which is more than I can say for last year when I rated two books one star.  Maybe I'm more lenient on quality and won't rate a book one star unless I absolutely loathe and/or can't get through it.  I rated 9 books 5 stars (one was a re-read of The Hunger Games (Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins) and I think I've got another 5 star rating coming along (at the time of this post I am not done with the book so it doesn't go on the list).  

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    Book Review: Duplicate by Harris Dickson Shortle




    John Laronde thought he had it made.  He had the perfect life in 1934 Louisiana.  A prominent attorney, he lived with his wife and daughter on their sprawling estate.  He was beloved by everyone in the community.

    A series of packages containing photographs marked duplicate started appearing on his desk, each sent from a city closer and closer to John's location, turned his world upside down.  What did the man, Pharus Murdock, want with John that he sent these duplicates and moved into John's town?  What did he want with becoming a well-liked member of the community as well?  What was the connection between Murdock and Laronde?

    The story did contain that sense of anticipation.  I wanted to know who Pharus Murdock was and why he was after John Laronde.  But, as for the actual story, I didn't care much for it.  Shortle writes very descriptively, so much that it takes away from the storytelling.  Introducing a new character or a new setting brings with it so much description that the story gets lost.  It can get to the point where it becomes hard to keep track of what is going on.

    I don't have a clue what the prologue's intentions are.  It doesn't flow with the rest of the story.  It's about John, Helen, and Ruth, as Helen grows up, but Helen plays such a minor role in the rest of the story there isn't a need for her backstory.  It doesn't aid the reader in any way.  The prologue plays a joke telling the reader what the story is not about.

    Finding the answers to the questions is great, but the answers themselves?  They didn't fit with the anticipation.  I wasn't satisfied that this was the reason for Pharus Murdock.  It didn't feel enough, especially with the amount of space or lack of space, I should say, given to the ending.  I didn't think it was enough.

    I read this book for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday



    Top Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2012

    1. Randy Alcorn (Safely Home)
    2. Amy Clipston (A Season of Love)
    3. Emma Donoghue (Room)
    4. Kimball Fisher (Finding the Baby Jesus)
    5. Rolando Garcia (The Sun Zebra)
    6. Steven Manchester (Twelve Months)
    7. R.J. Palacio (Wonder)
    8. Veronica Roth (Divergent)
    9. Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck)
    10. Randy Singer (The Judge)

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    Blog Tour: Finding the Baby Jesus by Kimball Fisher







    Kimball Fisher delights readers this Christmas with a short story on the topic of finding the baby Jesus.  Twelve year old Chris learns a valuable lesson on the first Christmas without his grandmother when all he wants are two things: a special Tony Hawk skateboard and the tradition of finding a gift in the Christmas tree from his grandmother.

    While the title has its metaphorical meaning it also has its literal meaning.  When Grandma became ill and had to be taken to the hospital a fire started in their home causing the figurines of Mary and Joseph to get scorched.  In the fire, the baby Jesus figurine was lost.  Through the tale, Chris and the reader learn the true meaning of Christmas.

    Fisher shows one can tell a great story in a few pages.  One does not need to spread things out over novel length.  He created emotion, climax, and wonder through Chris's short story.  If you need or want a wonderful Christmas story this is one you should definitely consider.

    I read this as part of the Blog Tour using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.




    Friday, December 7, 2012

    Book Review: The Baby Game by James A. Thompson and Vidya Samson




    Two babies born via surrogate, two families, two problems.

    Samantha Morgan lost her husband two years ago.  She saved his sperm before his death and used that to have a surrogate in India carry a baby for her.

    Matthew Carlisle and his wife wanted a baby, but she does not want to get pregnant.  They combined his sperm and her egg in a surrogate in India, of course, to carry the baby to term.  In the middle of all this, Matthew and his wife divorced, leaving him with the baby!

    We have one story of two single parents traveling to India to claim their babies when they are born from the surrogates who are twin sisters.  There is a problem with the babies, though, a big problem!  I won't spoil and tell what it is, though.  If you want to find out you have to read the book.

    The other plot involves Samantha.  At age fifteen she was seduced by an older man as was a friend of hers.  This incident has been placed in the past as it should be, but with the guy running as the Republican candidate for President of the United States of America, it has been brought to the forefront of her life as someone is now out to get her and her unborn child.

    There are two plots going on here involving Samantha and the babies.  What's confusing is keeping up with both plots.  What do we know that the characters don't know?  What do they know and has it been accurately told to them?

    There are two authors.  I guess they each had their own plot that was put together with a mighty big seam.  The story did not flow properly for both ideas to work together.  Each one would have made a great story on its own.  Together they just muddle each other up.

    Something else I didn't like was the political nature of this book.  I was unsure who was supposed to be the bad guy.  The guy running for office was a Republican but I couldn't tell if the Republicans were out to get Samantha or if it was the Democrats.  Each party had a stake in if the story came out or not.  Each party had people working on it.  It was hard to tell who was involved with which party.

    I read this book as a review request using the Kindle App on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.


    Book News: 2012 goodreads Awards


    This used to a be a weekly meme posted on Thursdays, but I've decided to just move it to whenever there's news. 

    The news I have today is the 2012 goodreads Book Awards.  After voting in two rounds by the fans/readers the winners are:

    Fiction:  The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

    Mystery & Thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    Historical Fiction: The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman

    Fantasy: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King, Illustrator Jae Lee

    Paranormal Fantasy: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

    Science Fiction: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

    Romance: Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

    Horror: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

    Memoir & Autobiography: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

    History & Biography: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith

    Nonfiction: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

    Food & Cookbooks: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier by Ree Drummond

    Humor: Let's Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

    Graphic Novels & Comics: The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman, Illustrator Charlie Adlard

    Poetry: A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

    Goodreads Author: Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

    Young Adult Fiction: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction: Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

    Middle Grades and Children's: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

    Picture Books: Olivia and the Fairy Princess by Ian Falconer

    Check out the website for the complete list of winners and nominees.  This is a great bunch of books selected.  While I have not read any of them (I have read a few nominees, though), there are a few on my to reads list that I will be getting to soon!




    Thursday, December 6, 2012

    Book Review: The Fiddler (Home to Hickory Hollow #1) by Beverly Lewis

     



    I've read so many Amish Fiction stories, especially ones by Beverly Lewis, that I'm really paying attention to what makes them different.  What makes The Fiddler different is that the focus is on an Englisher, what they call a non-Amish, and it's the boy who wants to run away from Amish life.

    Amelia Devries spent her entire life playing the violin and living up to her father's expectations of her becoming a world renowned violinist.  In a self-indulgent move she goes under the alias Amy Lee and plays fiddle for a Tim McGraw opening act.  On the way home, she gets caught in a terrible storm and gets lost all the way to Michael Hostetler's doorstep.

    Michael Hostetler is running away, not from God, but from the Amish.  He doesn't want to make a committment to the church.  He has moved out of the Amish community and living on his own when Amelia finds him.  He wants to be a Christian, but he doesn't want to kneel down as a member of the Amish community.

    Michael takes Amelia back to his family home in Hickory Hollow.  She spends a few days there, making friends, and relaxing away from the stress of her father's wants as well as her boyfriend, Byron.

    Amelia and Michael use this trip and each other to discover who they are and what they really want.  Does Amelia want to travel the world as a solo violonist?  Does Michael want to leave the Amish?

    The story focuses on more of the English world than Lewis's stories normally do.  That was a nice change.  The downside is that some things happen in Michael's world without explanation for the reader.  That was not nice.  It felt like an excuse to have things go the way Lewis wants them without having to come up with a way to get there.  It does not take away from the overall story.

    One aspect I enjoyed was minor mentions of characters from previous stories set in Hickory Hollow, where Lewis originally set her Amish stories.  It brings her world full circle.

    I read this for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.


    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Book Review: Turtle Season by Miriam Ruth Black





    Anna's husband passed away a year ago.  Add to that the effects of menopause and Anna doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin anymore.  She's a professor at a local community college, but even there, she's losing touch.  She doesn't want to do it anymore.  She needs a change, so she enrolls in a documentary making class.

    I was disappointed with the story.  Not so much because of what happens to Anna, but what happens along the way.  The characterization of men is very bad.  They're either non-existent or evil creatures.  I'm not a man, so I don't take direct defense, but I feel that attitude of that certain type of feminism that hates men.  Anna's son is this self absorbed I don't want to use the word, but I have to say bastard as I can't think of anything else to describe him.  But, her daughter is this beautiful creature who comes to her mother's aide when she feels she is needed.  Quite a contrast.   Anna's been like the perfect wife, but her husband is a cheater.  Anna doesn't find this out until after he's dead, but it makes her look good while he looks bad.  The women get raised on a pedestal while the men get thrown into a fire.  I can understand having either the son or the father being a bad guy in the story, but not both.  There are exactly three male characters in this story, if I recall correctly, and one's dead!

    I do like the message that life doesn't end as we age.  Anna's life hasn't ended.  It's just changing.  She's finding a new path for herself.  I do like that.  Our younger years may be behind us but that doesn't mean our life is gone.  As Anna did we can pursue new things.  We can find new loves.  We are not gone.

    This story does deal with lesbianism.  It was a bit jarring for me, but that has nothing to do with the rating.  This book just reminds me so much of some of my friends from high school days who were those feminists who hate men.  I'm not one of them, even though they were my friends.  While reading the novel I couldn't get that out of my head and it did end up tainting the story for me.

    I read this as a review request using the Kindle app on my laptop (I love this app, btw).  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.


    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Teaser Tuesday


    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can playing along!  Just do the following:



  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

  • "Well, Rank?" John asked when they had come back to the desk and sat down again.  "What do you make of it?"
    P. 93 Duplicate by Harris Dickson Shortle

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday



    Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

    I have a long list of books I want to read.  These are ten of them I would love to receive for Christmas.

    1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
    2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    3. Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson
    4. The Bridesmaid (Home to Hickory Hollow #2) by Beverly Lewis
    5. How Huge the Night by Heather Mann
    6. Harry Potter: Page to Screen by Bob McCabe
    7. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
    8. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
    9. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
    10. Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons



    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Book Review: American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom by Rick Santorum




    Rick Santorum served as a US senator from 1995-2007 representing the state of Pennsylvania.  He is better known for his failed 2012 bid to represent the Republicans in the race for the White House.  He is a Catholic and with that conservative.

    Santorum wrote this book to chronicle the lives of American Patriots from the early days of the country that we may not be familiar with, the ones that don't get much attention and much focus especially in school where we get most of our history education.

    History is not really my thing even when it comes to my own nation.  I think people naturally assume if you love to read then you love history as well, but that's never been the case for me.  However, I do enjoy reading about certain historical figures time has forgotten.  The going story nowadays is that the founding fathers were not as Christian as we like to believe.  Just because it is popular doesn't make it true.  This book gives insight into important historical figures that were religious.  There is more to America than the men  gracing text books.

    The book includes a copy of The Declaration of Independence.  The Declaration of Independence is one of the most valuable documents in this nation's history.  I believe it is something every American should read and be familiar with.  What did our founding fathers want for this country?

    I read this as a review request from the Tyndale Blog Network.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.


    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    Book Review: Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, a Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold by Bryan Clay



    What does it take to become a decathlete and what kind of person wants to become one?  This story explores the life of the 2008 Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist, Bryan Clay.  I didn't spoil the ending for one should know this before going into the story!

    I love the Olympics and I love reading about Olympians, especially ones who turn to God.  Bryan Clay is all that, but he did not start out that way.  His story shows us God has a plan for us and if we follow Him we can be a part of that wonderful, glorious plan.  God's plan for Bryan was just that, wonderful and glorious.

    Clay lived a rebellious adolescence in Hawaii with his mother, stepfather, and various other relatives.  He was headed on a path to nowhere fast.  With prayer from his mother and help from his guidance counselor Clay turns to track and field to curb his rebellious ways.  In this, he finds the decathlon, a torturous two day competition at track meets.  He chronicles the story of his success in high school, college, and the world.  Not everything comes easy, especially for decathletes and their strenuous schedule.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Bryan Clay's memoir.  God told his mother of His plans for Bryan and through hard work and dedication Bryan allowed God to work through him to make them come true.

    I read this as a review request from BookSneeze using the Kindle App on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.


    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Book Review: The Forever Contract by Avery Sawyer




    How would you like to  live in a world where everyone is thirsty?  There is hardly any water and electricity.  To make up for the lack of water inhabitants are given gel packs.  They don't really get rid of the thirst, but they help keep everyone alive.  And the electricity?  Everyone is given an allotted amount a month.  Most people save their electricity to power their screens.

    What are these screens and what is so important that people would rather use their electricity for them than for such things as air conditioning and heating?

    Casey and her family have the option of leaving the dystopian society they live in for one full of lush green grass, food, and most importantly water.  But, doing so they pay a price.  They become not themselves, but an avatar, a computer generated program living in a computer generated world.  Sounds wonderful to get rid of the pain and the thirst of the real world.  When one reaches the age of seventeen they are allowed to sign a contract to enter the world.  Most do.  Casey's parents did not and will wait until Casey signs before they go in to live with her and her older brother who has already left for that world.

    The screens are their way of contacting those on the inside.  They're not called computers but they function very much like the ones we have today.  They're everywhere--hand held and all rooms of the house.  They're not glued to them so much as they have become their only way of communication, especially to the utopian world they can escape to.

    Casey is unsure if she will sign the forever contract to move into this world.  She's always dreamed of going but the distrust of her boyfriend James causes her to hesitate and find out what that world is really about.


    This novella written by Avery Sawyer deals with this dystopian society.  I do think it's creative the two worlds she has created, but the story itself seems lacking.  It does not go into as much detail as I would have appreciated.  I think there is enough detail to take this from a novella to a full-fledged novel and that if was that I probably would have appreciated it more.

    The ending feels very dues ex machina.  How are Casey and James going to get answers and punishment for what they have done which I will not share here so I don't spoil the story if you plan to read it?  The answer given is such an easy out, like the author has run out of ideas to come up with a true ending.  There's so much that could be there that isn't.

    I give the novella two stars for it is a very promising story, but it promises much  more than it delivers.

    I read this as review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Top Ten Tuesday


    Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2013

    1. Book 3 in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
    2. Whatever Beverly Lewis is working on (could it be book 3 in the Home to Hickory Hollow series?)
    3. The Offering by Angela Hunt
    4. Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story by Dee Henderson


    There are actually only 5 books I can think of.  There are tons of books I want to read,  but just four that I know of (and really it's three since I don't know what Beverly Lewis is going to bring us next) will be released next year.


    Book Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth




    I finally got around to reading this wonderfully dystopian novel.  Winner of the 2011 GoodReads Choice Award for Favorite Book.

     In the dystopia surrounding Chicago, society is divided up into five factions based on what the members value most: Abnegation--selflessness, Amity--peacefulness, Candor--honesty, Dauntless--bravery, and Erudite--intelligence.  On Choosing Day all sixteen year olds are to choose which faction they belong with and will spend the rest of their lives.  Most do pick the faction of their youth, the one they were born and raised with their family, but there are a few who select another.  Before this day comes the selectors take a test to see where they best fit.  The result is just a suggestion.

    This story is set around one sixteen year old from Abnegation: Beatrice Prior.  She and her brother, Caleb, have to make the daunting decision of where to spend the rest of their lives.  Raised in the Abnegation faction if they choose another they could very well be separated from the family forever.  It's no secret certain factions do not get along and some parents feel it is a betrayal when the child chooses another faction.

    After choosing her faction, Beatrice "changes" her name to Tris and works to fit in with the new members of her faction undergoing stringent tests and trials to prove they belong.  All members have to prove they can put faction above family, first and foremost.

    Tris does hold a secret, a secret that if any of the higher ups found out could get her killed.  It's also a secret that is saving her life.

    The story did remind a lot of The Hunger Games with the separation of the people and such but is very different.  All dystopian novels and series are not the same.  I'm really finding that with the reading of this book that I do have a taste for dystopian novels.  I didn't think they'd be very interesting as they seem very fantasy, but I do believe I was wrong.

    Yes, there was a lot of hype surrounding this book and it's sequel (as well as the unreleased third novel) and as it always does the hype made me nervous.  Was it popular because certain people were reading it or it was marked as the next Hunger Games?  People are always looking for the next big thing and when searching they are quick to label anything as the next.  They weren't wrong in this case.  Not totally.  I'm not sure if it really deserves to be as big as The Hunger Games, but it's a really good story. I'm anxious to read Insurgent, to find what's going to happen next.  That's a good way to find out if a book is worth it.  Does it keep the reader wanting more?  I want more.

    I read this for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Teaser Tuesday


    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can playing along!  Just do the following:


  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.

  • She recalled all too well the time she'd stepped in a cow pie in Papa's barn--the squishy, smelly manure was still vivid in her mind.  She'd smelled it for days afterward, even though she took long bubble baths each night to wash away the stench.
    P. 115 The Fiddler (Home to Hickory Hollow #1) by Beverly Lewis

    Book Review: Elevating Overman by Bruce Ferber





    Ira Overman receives laser eye surgery and his whole life changes.  He and his sort-of-best friend Jake Rosenfarb think Overman has become some kind of superhero.  Things are going Overman's way.  He's becoming a better person and able to correct past wrongs not just for himself, but for others as well.  He has received a second chance.

    It was an interesting story.  None of the characters were likeable and I still felt this sense of depression, dread, or something along those lines with Overman even though he was experiencing his second chance. In some places he makes great use of his second chance and others he throws it away almost as if he doesn't believe things can get better.  In the end, he gets his ultimate second chance and he does do right there.

    For me, it was an okay story.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, and that's why I give it just three stars.

    The author, Bruce Ferber, is an award winning comedy writer and producer for such shows as Bosom Buddies, Growing Pains, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Coach, and Home Improvement.  Knowing this made me more interested in reading the story as he has been part of some shows that I've enjoyed over the years.

    I read this as a review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Book Review: Twelve Months by Steven Manchester




    What would you do if you knew you only had twelve months to live?

    This is the question Don DiMarco faces when he gets the news he has terminal cancer with a predicted only twelve months left to his life.  Don creates a list of all the things he wants to do, things he wants to accomplish in his life, and sets out to complete them.  More importantly, he makes sure to make lasting memories with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

    Don doesn't dwell on the fact that he's dying.  It's with him every day in the form of pain getting stronger and stronger.  He doesn't let that stop him.  He lives his life to the best he can.  He gives his family all the love he can.

    I enjoyed the adventures Don went on as he wanted to accomplish the final things in his life.  One trip was to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC.  I'm not a NASCAR fan, but I did live in Charlotte, and living there it is hard to get away from NASCAR news.  I loved reading the description of Lowe's Motor Speedway and the area.  It brought me back to a place I used to live.

    This is the trip of a man with twelve months left in his life.  It's not about death.  It's about living and loving.  It's truly a wonderful story that should not be passed up.

    I read this book as a review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.


    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday



    Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

    Top Ten Books/Authors I'm Thankful For

    1. Harry Potter Series
    I'm thankful this series brought my sister and me closer.  It came at a time when we were fighting constantly and falling apart.  Harry Potter is something we have in common and in our toughest times we bonded over it.

    2. Ann M. Martin
    I'm thankful she's written so many wonderful books including The Baby-Sitters Club.  My childhood was filled with reading her works.  The Baby-Sitters Club is what really fueled my passion for reading.  I thank her for writing.

    3. Beverly Lewis
    Thank you, Beverly Lewis, for writing such wonderful stories that keep me entertained.  She is one of my favorite Christian writers.  She started the Amish fiction category which I'm now checking out other authors in. I thank her for being creative and writing about a topic no one else was really covering at the time.

    4. Angela Hunt
    I'm thankful for the books she's written that have opened my eyes.  Her stories like The Debt have taught me more about practicing my religion than any non-fiction book has aside from The Bible, of course.  She's fabulous and I'm thankful she's out there sharing her work with us.

    5. Judy Blume
    Thank you, Judy Blume, for your wonderful children's fiction.  Thank you for covering controversial topics in such non-controversial ways that a conservative girl like me doesn't feel uncomfortable reading them.

    6. Louisa May Alcott
    I'm thankful Louisa May Alcott had the passion and talent to write.  I'm thankful she didn't just write one story on the March girls, but let us explore more than just their lives in Little Women.  Thank you for sharing more stories with us on other characters as well.  

    7. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
    I'm thankful I read this book.  It's an eye-opener, not just to how Christianity is really treated in China, but how blind we are to the real world.  We see what others want us to see.  What we see is not always the truth.  We may we have it bad, but until we walk in someone's shoes we have no idea.  We think we know but we do not know.

    8. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
    I'm thankful for the movie and the book.  I'm thankful for the message.  I'm thankful for a writer that is from North Carolina writing about places I am familiar with.  

    9. William Shakespeare
    Many students are probably not thankful they have to read and dissect his work in school, but I am thankful for reading some of his works.  I'm thankful they're out there so others can make adaptations.  It's not just about his work, but what his work has done to the artistic world.

    10. The Bible
    How many ways can I say thank You?  Thank You, Lord Jesus.  Thank You, God.  Thank You for this book that teaches us how to be Christians, how to live our lives, and how to love You.  Thank You for the words that reassure us when things go wrong.  Thank You for the words that wrap around us, hug us, keep us warm, and let us know You are here.  Thank You so very much more than any words I can write.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Update


    I'm back.  I'm alive.  I'm still here.  What you've seen from me this past week, I think, is one post I had  scheduled already.  Last weekend I baby-sat my niece who was getting over a stomach bug.  Needless to  say, I caught it.  I was in bed all Sunday and had a small relapse on Tuesday.  This past week I've been  zapped of energy and will to get anything done.  I've only been doing the absolutely necessary stuff  because it's absolutely necessary.  I haven't even worked on my NaNo.  I was gunning for 75,000 but I'll  be lucky to get 50,000 now.  Sigh.  I haven't worked on it since last Saturday.  I haven't even looked at it  since then.  I'm feeling much better, almost 100%, but not quite.  Things will start getting back to normal  around here, hopefully.

    Sadly, this means I've  missed my one year anniversary, which was Thursday Nov. 15.  :( I was going to  prepare a giveaway, but I was unable.  I will get a belated celebration together shortly.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday


     

    Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

    Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Pick My Own Category.
    Top Ten Christian Fiction

    1. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
    This book touched me in so many ways.  It's about Christianity in China.  What we see is not what really goes on.  It's a work of fiction, but it contains a lot of truth.

    2. Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock
    An allegory for Jesus's love for his children, a beautiful piece of literature.

    3. Restoration Series by Terri Blackstock
    I haven't finished this series, one book left, but already it's pretty high on my list for not just Christian fiction, but fiction in general.  In a sense, I guess you could say it's a Christian Dystopian Series.  I think we all know the dystopian part is temporary.  But, I haven't read the conclusion so I don't really know how the world ends up.

    4. Sisterchicks Series by Robin Jones Gunn
    Each story can be read on it's own.  The connection is they're all sisterchicks.  What is a sisterchick?  A friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you're being a brat.  (www.squidoo.com/sisterchicks)  Each book is a trip to a new place, London, the Netherlands, Paris, Hawaii, Venice, New Zealand, and Finland.  

    5. O'Malley Series by Dee Henderson
    Suspense, romance, and Christianity wrapped into one. This series has it all. It's about orphans all grown up.  They were never adopted so they formed their own family and created their own surname--O'Malley. Each one has a highly suspenseful job that creates the main plot for each story. I found each book to be predictable but still a joy to read.

    6. Coming Home to Brewster Series by Roxanne Henke
    This series is about a bunch of women who live in Brewster, North Dakota. It's about finding God and finding out where your true home is. Roxanne Henke is a fabulous writer. If you like both Christian and women's literature this is definitely a series you don't want to miss. I'm just sad there's only five books in this series.

    7. The Awakening by Angela Hunt
    The main character suffers from agoraphobia which only increases when her mother dies leaving her alone in her apartment.  Can God and her new neighbor help set her free?

    8. The Debt by Angela Hunt
    This story has a powerful message.  We must not stay in our comfort zones.  We need to go where the needy are.  They're not going to come to us.  It will not be easy.  People may talk.  But, we need to do what we need to no matter what others think.

    9. Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury
    This one was turned into a movie.  I haven't seen the movie.  Now that I've read the book I do want to see it.  A mother and father find out the adoption of their son was illegal.  Breaks a parent's heart.  What will they do to keep their son?  What will the law make them do?  Heart wrenching.

    10. Seasons of Grace Trilogy by Beverly Lewis
    The top writer of Amish Fiction.  All of her series are great, but I chose this one as I have rated it the highest.    With so many series under her belt how can she make one unique so the reader doesn't feel they are reading the same story over and over?  This one includes an adopted son who runs away, a mother with an injury, and a girl with a confused heart as well as a Prodigal Daughter.






    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Teaser Tuesday


    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can playing along!  Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away!  You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.


  • Putting God first elevated everything in my life.  I had sold out to Him, and He had given everything back, with greater success.
    Kindle Loc. 1769 Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, a Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold by Bryan Clay

    Book Review: The Witness by Dee Henderson



    Amanda Griffin witnessed a terrible crime. Ever since then she has been on the run, hiding her identity, hiding herself in hopes of being able to keep herself alive.  Police Chief Luke Granger meets Amanda as she is a witness to murders at her place of work.  Add to this her sisters coming into something that puts them in the media's eye causing threats to come their way.

    Another novel from Dee Henderson putting together suspense, romance, and Christianity. The suspense portion is divided into sections.  It comes and it goes.  I have read reviews of this book.  Some people think it's cliched or easy to figure out.  I do not agree.  I am one who thinks Henderson writes very predictable, but still fun to read stories and I don't think this one was predictable.  Well, all right, it was a little predictable--the romance portion, but I think the suspense part was not and that is the major plot.

    I do wish there was more to the ending.  It felt like there was more to tell, but Henderson chose to stop writing.  It's as if she was considering writing a sequel but never did.  I wouldn't mind if she did write one.

    Connor and Marsh are Granger's co-workers.  They were the only hitch in character development.  There were times when I would get them confused.  I understand the need for having the two of them but they really felt like one character split in half.  Besides that, the character development was superb.  The three sisters felt like three individual siblings rather than three parts of a whole.

    I read this book for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Book Review: Ivy in the Shadows by Chris Woodworth





    Ivy lives a life of being ignored.  Her stepfather leaves the family with nothing meaning her mother has to find a way to make ends meet. To do so, she takes in a boarder, twelve-year-old Caleb, someone Ivy thinks is the weirdest kid she's ever met.  Also, Ivy's mother gets a job waitressing.  With her mother at her job, Ivy's five-year-old brother JJ in love with Caleb, and her best friend Ellen trying to become a part of the popular group, Ivy feels more alone than ever.

    Reading the story, I felt for Ivy.  She seemed like a normal pre-teen girl just trying to get through the tough years of her young life.  She didn't care to be anything special like her best friend.  She didn't want major attention.  She just didn't want to be lost in the shadows.  Who can blame her?

    The beginning threw me as it was unclear to the gender of Ivy.  Her name hadn't been mentioned although I should've gotten a clue from the title (I feel like a dunce that I didn't!) and the writing made me think she was a boy, but slowly, especially with the introduction of her name, I got the hint.  I read this book in ebook format so I didn't really have the cover to refer to like a hard copy.

    The story is told through Ivy's narration and that made it easier to relate.  We think Ivy.  We feel Ivy.  We understand Ivy.  That's the point of first-person point-of-view, but in many cases it doesn't come across.  I believe it did here.  But, even so, it still felt a tad shallow.  We didn't get too deep into Ivy or rather, we didn't get deep enough.  I feel that's part of Ivy's characteristic.  There's so much she doesn't let anyone, including the reader, know.

    The story teaches a lot.  To tell you what it teaches would be to spoil the story and I don't want to do to that.  To find out, read it.  I will say it does teach about friendship.

    I read this book as an Uncorrected Digital Galley from Netgalley using the Adobe Digital program on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    Book News: NaNoWriMo



    This is not so much book news as it is writing news.

    Today is November 1 which means the start of NaNoWriMo!



    What is NaNoWriMo you may ask?  It's short for National Novel Writing Month.  The goal here is to write a novel this month or at the very least 50,000 words of a novel.

    I have participated in NaNoWriMo for the past four years.  Last year I didn't make the goal.  I lost inspiration the first or second week into the month.  But, the other years 2008, 2009, and 2010 I have made goal and won.

    This year I want to write 75,000 words.  I'm sort of cheating in that I am not writing a novel.  I'm going to be working on a bunch of stories at once.  I feel this is okay, because I have not really been writing, except for my blog, lately, and I feel this will be a great exercise in getting me back on track.  I want to get back to being creative. 

    If you love to write I hope you join and participate.  You lose nothing if you don't make the goal so don't worry about that.  Who knows what you can gain if you just try.   A novel?  Better writing skills?  Fun?  Buddies?  I believe it's worth it.

    For more info and to join check out the official website: NaNoWriMo.org