Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Books of 2013

Here are my favorite reads of the year:

Unglued ~ Lysa TerKeurst
Stardust ~ Carla Stewart
Sparkly Green Earrings ~ Melanie Shankle
Saving Sailor ~ Rene Riva
The Remedy for Regret ~ Susan Meissner
The Sacred Ordinary ~ Leigh McLeroy
Anomaly ~ Krista Mcgee
The Shadow Lamp ~ Stephen Lawhead
Fifteen Minutes ~ Karen Kingsbury
Afloat ~ Erin Healy
Gone to Ground ~ Brandilyn Collins
A Cast of Stones ~ Patrick W. Carr

Monday, November 4, 2013

October Wrap Up

I had a pretty good reading month in October. I read eight books total. So here's the run down of my reading activities.

Stardust by Carla Stewart ~ I think this one might be my favorite of the month, and Carla Stewart is shaping up to be a new favorite author for me. I love her characters. This story is a bout a young woman who finds out her husband is leaving her for another woman. Just after he leaves, he drowns. Then she ends up inheriting an old motel from a distant relative, and her life just keeps getting crazier. Good stuff!

Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola ~ I enjoyed this chick lit about a woman who seems to have everything. Then, in one stupid mistake, loses it all. She finds herself stuck in the deep south where she learns what happiness and fulfillment (and good food) really are.

Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie ~ I was disappointed in the fourth installment of this historical mystery series. I have enjoyed the others I have read, but I really struggled to get into this one. I will probably read the next one when I can get a hold of it though.

Return To Me by Lynn Austin ~ I was really looking forward to this one. It is the first in a new series about the rebuilding of the temple. I will admit that it was a little on the longish side, and I really wanted to throttle one of the characters. But it is still excellent historical fiction. There is so much detail, and things really pick up in the second half. I ended up being really satisfied with the story and I am looking forward to the next installment.

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell ~ I will warn you right now, this book is hard to read. It is beautifully written, but the things this girl goes through are just heart wrenching. I can't really say I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I read it if that makes sense. There is a sequel that I plan on reading eventually. I hope it's happier.

Burning Sky by Lori Benton ~ This was probably my least favorite book this month. It was just okay for me. I did a review here.

Divergent by Veronica Roth ~ This book was a lot of fun. I didn't really know a lot about it before reading it. It is YA dystopian. Society has divided themselves into "factions". When a child turns 16 they must decide if they will stay with their family's faction or chose another one and leave their loved ones behind. The main character has discovered she can fit into several factions. She is Divergent, and this is bad. If the wrong people find out, she'll be killed. Of course there is a love story. And a sequel. It wasn't as good as Hunger Games, but what is?

The Shadow Lamp by Stephen Lawhead ~ This is the fourth book in the Bright Empires series and I think this is my favorite so far. The last book comes out next fall. I hate waiting.

Those are my October reads. I have some good stuff lined of for November, so stay tuned. What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Willa Obenchain is returning home after twelve years of captivity among the Mohawk Indians. Instead of finding her family, she find her childhood home abandoned, and her childhood friend a bitter and resentful enemy determined to take her family's home. Her parents have disappeared and, because they were believed to be British sympathizers, their land will be going up for auction. Willa is determined to save her land and clear her parents name. And she is determined to do it all on her own.

I enjoyed this Historical fiction set in the aftermath of the American Revolution. It was well researched, and the writing was beautiful. I had a lot of sympathy for Willa. She is finally able to come home and she is met with suspicion and anger. She endured many hardships, and is a very somber character. I do wish more time had been given to the time she spent with the Indians. I didn't feel like there was much more than highlights about that part of her life.

While I liked the characters and the writing, I felt like the story got long in the middle. I had trouble staying interested. It picked up toward the end though, and had a good finish. I will definitely read other books by this author in the future.  I would recommend this book to female readers who enjoy character driven stories in an historical setting.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recent Aquisitions

I have been getting lots of books in the mail lately. Makes me happy. Here are some of my most recent "purchases".

Bookstore/Amazon Finds:

Return To Me ~ Ok, this one I actually spent real money on. I was in Books A Million and there it was. It wasn't supposed to be released for a few days. I had my discount card and some money burning a hole in my pocket. Lynn Austin's books are always keepers for me anyway.

Angel Eyes ~ This is a YA supernatural series that I got for Elin. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I got Angel eyes from a private seller on Amazon for less than $4. I used a gift card I earned on Swag Bucks to pay for it.

Paperback Swap (books cost 1 credit, basically the price of postage):

Sweet Dreams ~ This is Carla Stewart's newest book. It has a beautiful cover.

Unrivaled ~ Siri Mitchell's latest release. The copy I received looks brand new.

Afloat ~ This one looks kinda creepy and fun.

Before the Dawn and Sweet September ~ These are the first 2 books in the Home to Heather Creek series. I thought they looked like sweet, heart warming reads.

Broken Wings ~ This is book 2 in the Angel Eyes series that I got for Elin. Not for me, mind you. I'm sure Elin will enjoy it.

Books to Review (these are freebies):

Burning Sky ~ I will be reading this one soon and posting a review at Blogging for Books.

All God's Children ~ WW2 era fiction I won in a Goodreads giveaway.

That's eleven books, and I spent about $30 on them. Not too bad. What books have you purchased lately?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My Playlist

Here's what I'm listening to:
Peace Be Still

You Are Love

Already All I Need

All Of My Days

The Word

Friday, October 4, 2013

New and Upcoming Releases I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On

Here are some books I am looking forward to with great anticipation.

Return to Me by Lynn Austin ~ Ms. Austin is my favorite author. I love her historical fiction, so when I saw she was writing a new Biblical series, I became giddy with anticipation. The Restoration Chronicles are set during the time of the rebuilding of the Temple. I saw Return to Me in Books a Million a few days before it was set to release, and I snatched it up. I'm planning on reading it later this month.

Pilgrimage by Lynn Austin ~ This is a memoir about Ms. Austin's visit to the Holy Land, and the impact it had on her life. This releases next month. I may have to put this one on my Christmas list.

Draw of Kings by Patrick W. Carr ~ I loved book 1 in the Staff and the Sword series, I have book 2 waiting for me on my Kindle, and I am already excited to see how this series ends. If you like the fantasy genre, give these books a try. Book 3 comes out in January.

The Wall Around Your Heart by Mary DeMuth ~  A book about the healing only Jesus can give. I love Mary's straight forward, caring style. She speaks from personal experience. Another great book by her is her memoir Thin Places. The Wall Around Your Heart comes out later this month.

Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury ~ I thought this book about a singing show contestant looked like a fun, quick read. It comes out at the end of this month, and my library already has it on order.

Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry (March 4, 2014) ~ I saw an early review of this book on Goodreads, and thought it looked fascinating. A modern day doctor goes back to ancient Carthage and becomes the slave of a handsome lawyer. What's not to love?

The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner (April 2014) ~ I'm not an Amish fiction fan, but I am a Susan Meissner fan. I'll definitely be checking out this new series, The Men of Lancaster County.

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers (April 22, 2014) ~ Francine Rivers has a new book coming out!!! It's about Hollywood in the 1950's, and the cover is gorgeous!

Shadowed by Grace by Carla Putman (January 1,2014) ~ I thought this book looked lovely. A woman travels to Italy during WW2 to take pictures and look for the father she never knew.

Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell (February 25,2014) ~ This book looks like so much fun. Another up and coming actress story. I have enjoyed the other books I have read by Ms. Mitchell. She has great story lines and great characters.

The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead (Fall 2014) ~ I just finished book 4 in the Bright Empires series, and I am a little peeved that I am going to have to wait so long for the 5th and final installment. And such a cliff hanger there was. Argh! Seriously, though, this is a great time travel series, but you definitly want to read them in order.

So much good reading to do next year. I can hardly wait! What do you want to read in the future?

*A disclaimer. All of my links go to Amazon. They don't pay me any money. I just like them.*

Monday, September 30, 2013

What I read in September

It's finally fall. I know this because the days are getting shorter, and there is a lot of football on the television. Notice I did not say the weather was cooler. It is. A little. But not really enough to mention. Ah, Florida. I love you, I really do, but your summers are endless.

Anyway, I got a lot of reading done this month, so let me commence with my list. My library got some books for me through interlibrary loan. They make me feel so special.

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar ~ I was a little disappointed in this Biblical fiction story about Rahab. She started out as a strong, self reliant character. As the story progressed, I felt like she became a little wimpy. I also felt the story was a little too "New Testament", but the setting was Old Testament. It was just OK for me.

Forbidden by Tosca Lee and Ted Dekkar ~  This is book one in the Book of Mortals series. My son read these when they first came out, and loved them. I enjoyed this one as well, but it is a little gory. I would classify this as dystopian  with a vampire kind of vibe to it. I will be reading the next book. I gotta find out what happens.

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God  by Lysa TerKeurst ~ Very good Bible study on obedience. I did a couple of blog hops for it here and here and here.

A Corpse at St. Andrews Chapel by Mel Starr ~ This is the 2nd book in the Hugh de Singleton series and I liked it even more than the 1st (The Unquiet Bones). Hugh is a gentleman and a surgeon in medieval England. He works for a wealthy land owner, healing the sick and solving the occasional murder. I love this series so far. It has so much detail, and Hugh is a wonderful hero. Can't wait to get my hands on the next one.  

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky ~ A very enjoyable upstairs/downstairs romance I reviewed here.

Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge ~ I saw this book reviewed somewhere and thought it sounded interesting. A few days later, it came up as a Kindle freebie! The story is about a book blogger who is kidnapped by an author. At first she thinks it's because she has given him bad reviews for his most recent books, but she learns that there is more to it than that. It is not an easy read. this woman endures quite a lot to solve the mystery, but, if you like suspense, you'll like this one.

What did you read this month? Any suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: The Governess of Highland Hall

The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky is an enjoyable upstairs/downstairs love story set in the early 20th century. William Ramsey recently inherited the huge estate, and he hires Julia foster, the daughter of missionaries, to be the governess of his young children. Sir William is a bit of a snob and tries to deny his feelings for middle class Julia. It doesn't take long for Julia to make an impression on William, and they spend a good portion of the book trying to figure out how to handle their growing attraction for each other.

I'm not a big fan of romances, so I get a little nervous when I have to read one for review. However, I liked this one a lot. The story was interesting, and the characters were well developed. The love story was sweet without being sappy. I would recommend this book to fans of Downton Abbey and also to fans of Julie Klassen. I will definitely read more books by this author in the future.

I received this book for free for the purpose of review. The opinions are my own.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

Even though it's still technically summer, and even though Florida will still have hot weather for several more weeks, I thought I would update everyone on what I read this summer. I got through a few books, some of which had been languishing on my book shelf and in my Kindle cloud for a long time. Here they are along with some of my thoughts about them.

1. Cranford ~ Elizabeth Gaskell
I really loved this Victorian era book set in the quaint town of Cranford. It centered around several aging ladies who ,for various reasons, had never married. The BBC series is also excellent.

2.What Happens When young Women Say Yes to God ~ Lysa TerKeurst
I read this with my girls over the summer. I was looking for a Bible study for young women that didn't focus on dating and purity. This book fit the bill. Elin, Anna, and I had great discussions about how extraordinary your life will be when you obey God.

3. The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr ~ Sandra Byrd
I'm not a huge fan of  Tudor era fiction, but I am enjoying this series. This book was about Henry XVIII's last wife, told through the eyes of her lady in waiting. Lots of details about the period, and the cover is gorgeous.

4. Gideon ~ Pricilla Shirer
I did this Bible study with the Living Proof blog community. A really good look at one of the Bible characters we think we know a lot about. I learned a lot, and highly recommend this one. I did it without the videos, and still got a lot out of it.

5. Jane Austen Ruined My Life ~ Beth Patillo
Enjoyable chicklit about a scorned woman who goes to England to dig up dirt on Jane Austen. She believes all of her problems stemmed from the fact that she was always looking for Mr. Darcy when, in reality, he doesn't exist. (Um, no dear, he doesn't exist. He's a fictional character.) She ends up discovering a secret society that is preserving the undiscovered letters of Jane Austen. As I said earlier, this was a fun book. I'm not a big fan of chicklit, but this one was pretty good.

6. Death Comes to Pemberly ~ P.D. James
I chose this book because of the title. I love it. The story was alright, too. It's a Pride and Prejudice sequel with a murder mystery. If you like murder mysteries, I would recommend it.

7. All of a Kind Family ~ Sydney Taylor
I read this book aloud to Anna. It's very sweet story about five Jewish sisters living in New York. They have adventures, and there are a couple of twists to the plot. If you have little girls that can sit and listen for a while, read them this book.

8. False Pretenses ~ Kathy Herman
This is the start of a Christian Mystery series, Secrets of Rioux River Bayou. One of the main characters has a secret that finally catches up to her. I thought this was a fun book, but I probably won't read the rest of the series.

9.The Fine Art of Insincerity ~ Angela Hunt
I'm a big Angela Hunt fan, so I really liked this book. The story is about three sisters who come together one weekend to clean out their grandmother's beach house. They all have issues and secrets, and they are more than a little self centered. Eventually, they see the value in their relationship to each other. This was an easy read, but it had a lot to say.

10. A Cast of Stones ~ Patrick Carr
This is the first book in the Staff and the Sword series. I really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend it of you like the fantasy genre.

11. Fly Away ~ Lynn Austin
I am a huge Lynn Austin fan. She's easily my favorite author. That being said, this was not a favorite of mine. I think it was one of the first books she wrote. It kind of read like a very long gospel tract. It got better as the story progressed, but still, I would recommend any of her other books over this one. In fact she has a new book coming out in a few weeks that I'm very excited about.

12. Iscariot ~ Tosca Lee
I'm still thinking about this one. On the one hand, it was a very well written story that held my attention the whole way through. On the other hand, I didn't agree with her portrayal of Judas, or of Jesus. I don't know if I would really recommend this book even thought it was interesting.

13. The Remedy for Regret ~ Susan Meissner
I loved this book. The main character is searching for forgiveness and love from her father. She finally realizes that what she really needs she can find in God. This was probably my favorite summer read, and one of my favorites this year.

Well, there's my summer reading in a nutshell. Some were good, some were okay. I'd love to hear what you read this summer. Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Word as a Weapon

I have been doing some verse mapping with my current Bible study .It has been eye opening to dig a little more into some common verses that I have known since childhood, and see a deeper meaning than I have seen before.

This week I was looking at John 15:4 ~ Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

My NLT Study Bible (which is awesome!) says about remaining in Christ, "A disciple's life is fully formed by Jesus' words". It also says remaining "means a commitment on the part of God and the disciple".

I am #amazed that God is committed to me. He isn't asking anything of me that he isn't already doing for me.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My #Saywhat Moment

Her name was Susan. She was a captive audience in my living room. She had come to my home to sell me a very expensive vacuum cleaner. She did her demo, and I listened politely. In exchange for this I got a clean living room carpet and a small, rather useless camera. She got stuck at my house with no sale and no ride for an hour.

To say this was awkward is an understatement. I'm extremely introverted and I struggle with small talk. Thankfully, she was somewhat chatty. We talked about life for a few minutes. She asked me what my husband did . I said he was studying to be a minister. This brought on a rather long diatribe about why she didn't like ministers because they were so rich and took money from little old ladies.

At some point during all of this I got the strong impression that I was supposed to share my faith with with Susan. After hearing her talk about all that was wrong with churches, and Christians, and pastors, I was a little hesitant.  But I was obedient. I asked her a few questions, and found out that when she was young she went to a hell-fire-and-brimstone church. All she had ever heard about God was how judgmental he was, and that he couldn't wait to send people to Hell. Pastors scared her, Christians scared her, and God scared her. I was able to share God's love with her, and tell her that I'm not a Christian because I'm afraid of God. I'm a Christian because of the love He showed when He sent Christ to die for me.

I never saw Susan again after the hour we spent together. I still pray for her whenever I think about her. I'm so thankful I was obedient that day. I hope today she is serving the God that I know. The one that loves her more than anything.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

With All My Heart

I have been meditating on Deuteronomy 6:5 this week:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

I've known this verse since I was a little girl. I never really thought about it being anything spectacular. Of course I love God. I am a Christian. That's what Christians do.

Last night I dug a little deeper. My study Bible commentary says the heart, soul, and strength are our intellect, will, emotions, and our physical being. Everything I am needs to love God. Everything that makes me who I am needs to love God. Not just my mind if I'm tired, and not just my body if I'm thinking about something else. I need to love Him with all my being. This takes concentration and discipline. It takes time. It also takes reading the next verse:

"And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you."

Wholehearted commitment. That's what it looks like.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

19 Facts About Adam

My oldest child, Adam, turned 19 yesterday. In honor of his birthday I thought I would try to come up with 19 facts about him. So here goes:

1. He loves fried chicken
2. He got his first car when he was 18
3. We pretty much had to make him get his driver's licence
4. To call him a movie buff would be an understatement
5. Just before his 4th birthday, he told us he was going to "get wild"
6. Adam is a tennis player
7. He loves movie soundtracks
8. He loves to say he is going to do something crazy, and then never does it
9. His first job was as a field hand in an Iowa cornfield
10. Adam's first girlfriend worked with him in said cornfield
11. He was home schooled
12. He graduated at the top of his class
13.To say he is a voracious reader is an understatement
14. He is a lefty
15. He had to get stitches 3 times before his 6th birthday
16. He was the district doubles champion his senior year at Matanzas High School
17. When he got his car, he took his sisters out for ice cream
18. He finds theology fascinating
19. His mother loves him more than words can say

Happy birthday, Adam!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Wishing on Willows

Wishing on Willows is a sequel to the book Wildflowers from Winter. It is Christian romance dealing with falling in love after a tragedy.Robin has thrown her life into the cafe her late husband always dreamed of owning. She cannot see herself ever falling in love again. Ian is trying to save his family construction business by building condos...right where Robin's cafe is located. These two characters have a lot of chemistry and a lot of spunk. I enjoyed the story line and thought it was a well written book and a sweet love story.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Reading

Read any good books lately? I have read a few already this year. I usually read 4-6 books a month. This month I read 5, so I am right on track.

The Face by Angela Hunt (3.5/5) ~ This was an interesting book. I have always enjoyed Angela Hunt. She's an excellent writer. This story was about a woman with a rare disorder that caused her to be born without a face. As an infant, she only had a small opening for a mouth. Everthing else had to be put on with surgery. She was raised by the CIA and used by them for her computer skills. She grew up thinking she had no family, but later finds out she has an aunt. This changes her life in ways she never imagined. I would have given this a higher score, but the ending bugged me.

Veil of Pearls by MaryLu Tyndall ~ reviewed here.

The Spirit Well by Shephen Lawhead (4/5) ~ This is #3 in  the Bright Empires series. There are supposed to be two more in the future. I think this was my favorite one so far. Lots of adventure and the mystery of  the skin map that everyone is trying to find. If you like time travel novels. This is a great series. I revied the first book, The Skin Map, here.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T Bergren (4/5) ~ This was a Kindle freebie that got really good reviews. Overall I enjoyed it. It's the story of a farm girl who finds out she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper tycoon. He decide he wants to integrate her into his family whether she likes it or not. She doesn't like it, and neither do his other children. This is the first in a series about a European summer tour. I liked it, but I doubt I will read the next book.

A Woman Who Trusts God by Debbie Alsdorf (4/5) ~ My word for this year is trust, so I thought it would be fitting to start the year by reading about trust more in depth. This book was a study of Philippians. Its focus was on what to do in "the meantime". The meantime is when your are struggling with life, and you aren't sure what God is doing, or where he is leading you. I in the meantime right now, so this book was great for me.

There's my January reading wrap-up. What are you reading?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Veil of Pearls

My first book of the new year was Veils of pearls by MaryLu Tyndall. This book is set just before the War of 1812. The main character is a runaway slave named Adalia who is light skinned enough to pass for white. She arrives in Charleston, SC and begins to work as an assistant for a local doctor. She becomes interested in Morgan, a local plantation owner's son, and begins to enjoy her exciting new life.

This is the first book I have read by this author, and over all I enjoyed it. I liked the Adalia  a lot. She was strong and stood up for her beliefs, and she felt a strong responsibility to take a stand against slavery. She was also a very real character with flaws. She struggled with where she was supposed to fit in society and with new temptations that socializing with Morgan brings her. Morgan annoyed me somewhat. He was very spoiled and didn't seem to care if he put Adalia in compromising situations, but he did mature by the end of the story.

 I would recommend this book to women who enjoy historical romances. It was an easy read and a nice escape.