Monday, August 26

Redeeming Love, a Captivating and Inspiring Historical Romance

The prince of darkness is a gentleman. So begins Francine Rivers' best-selling book Redeeming Love.  Like all of her books that have come before, I was instantly immersed in this one. The author paints a real-life picture of what life might have been like for women in 1850s California Gold Country. The story is a retelling of an Old Testament story of a prophet who was told by God to marry a harlot who runs away from her husband to go back to her old life.  In the bible, Hosea buys her back.  I won't say what happens in this version, though, because I want you to read it!

Redeeming Love was often heart-breaking but it was also very poignant and touching.  It was a very captivating read with a wonderful ending. This story helps the reader to see how God is using our circumstances and even our worst mistakes to turn them around for good and to weave them into a beautiful tapestry.  It's the story of God's unconditional, redemptive, and all-consuming love.

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. 

Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. 

Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw. 

But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.

You can read the first chapter of Redeeming Love here.

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

Wednesday, August 14

Grace's Pictures, An Ellis Island Novel

Grace's Pictures is a charming read that takes place on Ellis Island during the early 1900s.  Admittedly, it took me a few chapters to really get into the story but when I did, I had to know what was going to happen.  Grace is an Irish lass who has quite a lot of trust issues and who seems very lost in New York.  She is a very timid person, and I am quite the opposite so her personality and past aren't exactly something I can relate to.  Still, her character is sweet and likeable, anyway, and she definitely changes by the end of the book.  If you had a rough childhood or are a very shy person, you would probably be able to relate to her and get more out of this book than I did.  A plus for me was learning a bit about early photography and the Kodak Brownie camera.  History stuff makes me happy.  

If you're looking for an easy, cozy read this summer, I think you'll like this one.  You can read the first chapter here on Amazon.
From the back cover: 
A casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced Grace's camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Tyndale for providing me with this book to review.

Tuesday, August 13

Anomaly, an AMAZING book much like Hunger Games but with a Christian twist!

I just finished one of the most captivating books I've read in a very long time!  After forgetting I had it (I blame Tolstoy), I picked it up today while my kiddos were doing the last of their homework and I was glued to it until the last page.  I'm afraid to admit that I didn't even stop to go to the bathroom or get a drink, though I did take a short break to put my littles to bed and pray for them.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world was decimated by a nuclear war. But life continued deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. There they created genetically engineered human beings who are free of emotions in the hope that war won’t threaten the world again.

This book is simply amazing!  The writing style and the dystopian feel is very similar to the Hunger Games trilogy, and it seems this book will actually be the first in its own trilogy.  I am terribly impatient knowing I'll have to wait until July 2014 to read the 2nd part!  The characters are so real, the plot has twists and turns the reader does not expect, and the ending is both hopeful and a cliffhanger. 

You can read an excerpt and purchase Anomaly from Amazon here.  If you don't read any other book this year, read this one!

From the back cover:

Thalli is an anomaly, born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far by hiding her differences. But then her secret is discovered when she’s overwhelmed by the emotion of an ancient piece of music.

The Ten quickly schedule her annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk - a scientist being groomed by The Ten - convinces them to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the Scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance.

As her life ticks a way, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer - someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who to trust, before her time runs out.

Special thanks to the people at Litfuse for providing me with this review opportunity!

Sunday, August 4

Horse Dreams, Great Fiction for Elementary School Girls

Backyard Horses was exactly the series I was looking for for my daughters who love Jesus, love horses, and are in 3rd grade. The author also wrote a series for older readers called "Winnie the Horse Gentler" and I tried that first but I'd recommend it for middle school students and up. Besides being harder to read, those books sometimes deal with harder issues (like abortion). Backyard Horses, however, is written at around a 2nd/3rd grade reading level. Love, love, love this series!

My daughters love Ellie, the heroine of the story! There are so far 4 books in the series and we started with book 1 (this one) in order to read them, well, in order. The heroine of Horse Dreams, Ellie, is a sweet, oftentimes feisty, day-dreaming 4th grader. In this book, she often day-dreams about her own horse. She decides to do a "science" experiment... she'll "beg, cry, and pray" for a horse of her own and find out what way works best for getting horses. I don't think it's spoiling anything to say that God will answer her prayer... but in a different way than she imagined.

I highly recommend this book to elementary school children. It's filled with a good story, important lessons, and a little girl who puts her hope in God. I also highly recommend Cowboy Colt, Chasing Dream, and Nightmare, the others in the series. By the way, you can earn this book for free by participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program through the end of August!

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Needle's Eye: Studying the Bible with the Greatest Detective of All Time!

I have been very remiss in book reviewing lately!  My excuse is that War and Peace is my current read and it's taken me longer to read its 1,300 pages than I expected.  It's an incredible book by my favorite author ever but with 500 characters, it's not exactly easy reading!  Once in awhile, I take a short break for a fast read and then come back to it again. 

So earlier this week, I picked up Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye: The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible Ultimate Mysteries.  I love Sherlock Holmes, whether in print, on BBC, or on old black and white films.  He's an incredibly interesting character, and Len Bailey has captured him well in this book.  Like I said, I'm not doing much pleasure reading these days, but this book fits in perfect with my life at the moment because it is a collection of 10 different mysteries each of which is about 20 pages long.  You can read one and do the corresponding bible study, and then take a break for days, weeks, or even months at a time before picking it back up for more. 

Under close scrutiny ten bible mysteries give up their hidden clues, their long kept secrets. Like a jewel newly polished, they sparkle and shine with a fresh, introspective light.

In each mystery, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson venture back in time to a particular Old or New Testament setting and solve the mystery.  Perhaps it does sound a bit cheesey, but the author does it well and I really enjoy each mystery!  Definitely a unique approach to bible study, and I love it!  I hope it sells well and encourages the author to write a sequel!  And besides, when we're talking about Sherlock Holmes, there always just has to be a sequel. 

Special thanks to the wonderful people at Booksneeze for providing me with this book to review!