Posted in Book reviews, Books, Chuck Black, Litfuse, Pictures, Reviews, update

Book I read during 2014

Another year is coming to a close. Seems so soon, doesn’t it?

This past year I’ve been able to read quite a few lovely books! In fact, I’ve read over 50 this year, which is a new record for me. :) I thought I would share what books I read this year, and which ones absolutely touched me and remain on my ‘favourite’ list!

 

The Headmistress of Rosemere (Whispers on the Moors, #2) Shadowed by Grace (Story of Monuments Men #1) God's Daughter (Vikings of the New World Saga, #1) Solomon's Song The Quilted Heart Omnibus (Quilted Hearts #1-3) The Thief (The Living Water Series, #2) The Well (The Living Water Series, #1) October Baby The Queen's Handmaid Visible Threat (Critical Pursuit, #2) Mary Magdalene A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides, #1) Grace Unplugged Pearl in the Sand For Such a Time Abraham And Sarah: The Long Journey 30 Days to a More Beautiful You: A Devotional for Girls Daisies Are Forever The Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains, #1) Raptor 6 (Quiet Professionals #1) The House of Mercy A Broken Kind of Beautiful The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking Rebekah's Treasure In the Field of Grace A Heart for Milton: A Tale from North and South A Bride for Keeps (Unexpected Brides, #1) A Distant Melody  (Wings of Glory, #1) Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless (Secrets, #1) A Bride in Store (Unexpected Brides #2) Kingdom's Dawn (Kingdom, #1) A Memory Between Us (Wings of Glory, #2) Kingdom's Hope (Kingdom, #2) Kingdom's Edge (Kingdom, #3) Thief of Glory Citizen: Your Role in the Alternative Kingdom Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II Love Amid The Ashes (Treasure Of His Love) Sew, It's a Quest (The Bookania Quests #1) The Crown of Anavrea Finally and Forever (Katie Weldon, #4) The Silver Bowl (Silver Bowl, #1) Destiny Defied The Princess Spy Destiny Delivered And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity Shades of Mercy (Maine Chronicle, #1) How to Be a Pirate (How to Train Your Dragon, #2) Swept Away (Quilts of Love)  Bella at Midnight Dash and Cinder  Ransomed At Home in Last Chance (A Place to Call Home, #3)  (If you click on the image of each book, they will lead to my review of it, if applicable. The last one “At Home in Last Chance” will be reviewed in January).

 

So that is it – or at least most of them. These are the ones I added on Goodreads (and the images are from that site as well); there were a couple others that I read, but forgot to add to GR…

As some of you may remember, a good percent of these were review books. I liked more than half of the books I read, which is always a good thing! As for my favourites, it is really hard to choose, and the list might be too long, so I will try to keep it short and list one the ones that I super loved (in no order):

“God’s Daughter” by Heather Day Gilbert

“The Well” and “The Thief” by Stephanie Landsem

“Visible Threat” by Janice Cantor

“Pearl in the Sand” (though I’ve read it numerous times before), and “In the Field of Grace” by Tessa Afshar

“For Such a Time” by Kate Breslin

“Daisies are Forever” by Liz Tolsma

“The Cross Centered Life” by C.J. Mahaney (oh my word was this amazing!! Everyone should read this)

“The House of Mercy” by Alicia R. Ruggieri

“A Broken Kind of Beautiful” by Katie Ganshert

“A Distant Melody” and “A Memory Between Us” by Sarah Sundin

“Kingdom’s Dawn”, “Kingdom’s Hope”, and “Kingdom’s Edge” by Chuck Black

“Love  Amid the Ashes” by Mesu Andrews

“The Crown of Anavrea” by Rachel Rossano

“Destiny Defied” and “Destiny Delivered” by J.A. Marx

“Ransomed” By Elizabeth Ender

Like I said, there were many!! I truly adored each of these books and they made huge impacts on my life. :)

So, what books did you read this past year, and which made it to your favourites? I’d love to hear!

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Posted in Random babblings

2014 in review

My Blog in Review :)

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Book reviews, Books, Litfuse

Litfuse Book Review: “Swept Away” by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven – A Quilts of Love book

“Swept Away” by Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven, a Quilts of Love Book

Review copy source: Litfuse

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned. Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but his heart is as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between Drew and his new employer’s granddaughter. Still, it doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts researching him online. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.

My Thoughts:

I had never read any of the Quilt’s of Love books, and when one came available through Litfuse, I thought I’d give it a try. And while I’m glad I did, I think I would’ve enjoyed a different one more so.

Though I don’t think it is the series’ fault, I did not care for this book at all. I was actually very disappointed, and disgusted, even, in a few areas. The story itself could’ve been good, and one I wouldn’t have thought twice about, but there was much that I found just inappropriate to be in a “Christian” book.

The main two things that I was disgusted with were:

The main female character was doing the chasing, and dressing provocatively on purpose – causing Drew to stumble, but this was all shown in a ‘good light’. I will not go into details, but please believe me when I say those sections were very inappropriate, and I would not recommend this book to any young readers, especially. I don’t actually recommend this book at all, because I do not feel it was God-honouring, but it is especially not for young readers. If this were just a ‘secular’ book with no claims on Christianity, fine (sad, but fine).  But to have the idea that a Christian person can read this and be uplifted and possibly even learn, is not going to happen. Instead, I’m afraid it’s teaching unChristian behaviour (causing anyone who reads it to stumble).  people that read it might believe it is perfectly okay to seduce men by unbuttoning buttons, etc.  It’s not!   Or think it’s okay to be with a man before marriage, which is exactly what Christian books should be training others not to do.  We are to be set apart -not to look and act or behave as the world behaves.  I see little to no difference in the way these characters behave than any other ‘worldly’ person.  And to me, personally, that is not a “Christian” book.

Second was how the women were ‘strong-headed’ and bossy, and even said that, in the grandma’s case, the husband let her run the house and didn’t stand up to her – this is not godly. God does not ask the woman to run the house – instead, He instructs the wives to be submissive. This does not mean the man should walk upon her, but it means equal respect, and letting the man be the head of the house as God designed.

I was disappointed with the lack of faith displayed among the characters. It seems like it was just thrown in at the end. Drew’s testimony, given on page 167, was great, but the book was not centered around that fact, nor gave much evidence that he was much changed because of Christ. “You will know them by their fruits” – in this book, I did not see this from either, even after they were both saved.

I do realize that many people reading this review will disagree because these are the standards that the world accepts.   However, I do believe that Christians should hold quite different standards and their books should reflect that.

I don’t want this to be a completely negative review; the writing style was fine, and were it not for the inappropriateness, and lack of faith, it would’ve been an enjoyable read. And by this one book, I am not turned away from the Quilt’s of Love series – I would still consider reading more in this series, as they are all different and by different authors. Also, one thing I did like about this book was the quilt aspect – I’ve never been a quilter, but reading about the story behind the quilt being made was neat, and I enjoyed that.

 

Litfuse and the publishers sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion, which I have given. All thoughts are strictly my own.

Posted in Book reviews, Books, God's Lessons, My Abba Father, Spiritual beliefs

Book Review: “Ransomed” by Elizabeth Ender

http://www.amazon.com/Ransomed-Elizabeth-Ender/dp/0988461498

“Ransomed” by Elizabeth Ender, illustrated by Louie Roybal

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

About the book:

“Both of them have promised to protect me. My lord is not here. The stranger is. One said I would die if I left; the other says I cannot live unless I go…and to go with one means to forsake the other. Do I stay or do I go? This is my choice.”
“A luminous allegory of true love and redemption. ~ Regina Doman, author of the Fairy Tale Novels
“Ransomed is a beautiful allegory reminding us of God’s redemption and unfailing love. When we read this story in our Bright Lights group, the girls enjoyed it so much!” ~ Sarah Mally, author of Before You Meet Prince Charming
“This story is a beautiful and clever analogy of Christ’s love. It’s totally worth the read.” ~ Jill Williamson, author of the Blood of Kings trilogy
“Ransomed is an incredible allegory of salvation, forgiveness, and love that touches the heart and feeds the soul, growing richer with every reading.”~ Jessica Greyson, author of Annabeth’s War

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness! This book is a gem, I am not kidding you. Going into this short read, I thought it’d be good and all, but I was in fact blown away by it. Priceless, truly. The story is amazing, and the underlying truth spectacular.

The way Miss Ender wrote of our redemption through Jesus Christ, in such an easy to read, highly riveting work of fiction is amazing. And Jesus’ message, told so clear through this book, is more than amazing to be reminded of again and again. Such Biblical truth to “Ransomed”, it was beyond delightful.
This is a book that can bring you to tears in such a short of amount of time – I loved it sincerly.
The writing was very well-done, and flowed  superbly. The illustrating (done by Louie Royball) was also remarkable and added good depth to the book.

What more can I say than that it was fantastically spectacular and deeply heart touching? This book will sit on my favourites shelf for a long, long time. :)

Thank you so much, Miss Ender, for sending me this complmentary copy for me to review. I was, and am very impressed with “Ransomed”. :)

Posted in Book reviews, Reviews

Book Review: “Dash and Cinder” by Bridget Ladd

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MS3MMJE/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

“Dash and Cinder”  a unique Cinderella retelling

by Bridget Ladd 

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

About the Book:

This short-story is a retelling of Cinderella with a sci-fi, Indian, steampunk, twist . . . where Cinderella may not be entirely human, with a setting in an alternate version of India, and where a young man will do everything he can to find the love that was once stolen from him . . .

My Thoughts:

I really enjoy Cinderella retellings. They are almost always so fun. This one was no exception – it was different, unique, and enjoyable. I had never read any steam-punk type books previously, so this was a first. I didn’t dislike it – in fact, I liked this short tale. Somehow, Miss Ladd made a loveable, hero of Dashnu in just a short amount of time. I call that talent. :) And of course you feel deeply for Anora/Cinder’s plight and like her as the main character. I liked each of the characters in this book – besides Madame and her two daughters…they were rather disagreeable. ;)

Though I do not think it was intentional, I saw  the Greater Love Story played out through this book. I think much of the classic Cinderella story reflects that – we love these tales, because we yearn to be pursued and fought for. In the fairy tale, it is by a Prince, but in real life it is by our Lord – Prince of all princes. He does pursue and fights for us at all costs. He is our greater love story.

And so I thought that neat, intentional in “Dash and Cinder” or not.

The beginning of the book took me a tiny bit to get into and fully understand (however, I think that was just me adjusting to the new genre), but another reading of it shall cure that I think. And I shall read it again. :)

The only thing that I did not overly care for was a part in the end, where, like in the movie Frozen, the female character is the ‘stronger’ one instead of the male character. I see nothing wrong with letting the man save the women. In fact, I think that is partly why we love the tale of Cinderella, because she was saved in a way, and cherished enough to be so.

Other than that, though, I enjoyed this light read!

Oh and I love the cover – it is just brilliantly beautiful!

Thank you so much, Bridget, for sending me the complimentary copy of “Dash and Cinder” – I greatly enjoyed it!

Posted in God's Lessons, Spiritual beliefs, Writing

The NaNo Experience 2014

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National Novel Writing Month.

For years, I yearned for this experience to be mine. I tried one year – back when I was like, 13. It did not turn out well at all. I had no plans, I was writing by the seat of my pants, and didn’t even like the story I came up with. So it quickly failed and crashed.

Then I didn’t participate after that, because I was always working on another novel that I wanted to finish before I started a new one for NaNo. So I thought, “Next year…” but I kept thinking and hoping for that, as I was always buried deep in one of my other novels, or just unable to do it.

But this year – I thought, ‘This year is my year’. A friend was going to be doing it, and I wanted to be a sort of cheerleader for her, so I signed up. I wasn’t going to start a new novel, I was just going to try my best to finish my Beauty and the Beast Story (which is not a short story anymore). It was going well at first. I met a new friend on there, and we exchanged a lot of emails, which was encouraging and helped spur on my writing. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever written so much in one month. Though it may have only totalled around 20,000 or more words, it was still a lot to me. But then…God had me stop. I couldn’t write.  It was, truthfully, a struggle of a month because I battled between wanting to write no matter what – in my flesh – and letting God control it and write through me. I wanted the latter, but that also came with the ‘if -then’. “IF I surrender my writing to the Lord,THEN He will bless it, BUT it has to be in His timing” which meant that I wouldn’t be writing much, unless I let Him set my heart back to ‘right’.

I wanted what God asked of me, but I still wanted to be accomplished and ‘approved’ by others because I wrote 50,000 words. But that didn’t happen. Over and over again the Lord reminds me that He doesn’t want me to look good in the eyes of the ‘public’. What matters most is my heart with Him.

So what if I didn’t get any words written day after day? Did it make me a failure? Will God hold it against me? No. And my head knows this well. But the flesh still struggles. And my heart yearns to daily accept His truth.

There is a tract/pamphlet thing that is titled “Others can – you cannot”. God has used it to remind me a lot – not just over the month of November, but in pretty much all areas of my life. I cannot be what others are – what the world is – no matter how ‘good’ it seems, because He has asked something different of me. This is what the pamphlet said:

 

Others May – You Cannot

If God has called you to be really like Jesus, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians.  In many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

Seemingly religious and useful men push themselves forward, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it.  And if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, of their success, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do it.  If you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortifications that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them.  But it is likely God wants you to have something far better than gold – a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can be produced only in the shade.  He may let others be great, but keep you small.  He may let others do work for Him and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing.  And then to make your work still more precious, He may let others get the credit for the work you have done, making your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So, make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love-slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those in the inner circle.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or restraining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Notice Jesus’ reply when Peter was more concerned with what John should do than with his own responsibility. “What is that to thee? follow thou Me” (John 21:22).

When you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this particular, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven.

“If ye then be risen with Christ,…Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

“And lest I should be exalted above measure…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh…For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” – G.D. Watson, adapted.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Did you read that? God may be asking something hard for you – something that may seem ‘unfair’, because “everybody else is doing it” – and they’re not getting ‘rebuked’. But it just means that Jesus loves you so much.  Not that He doesn’t love others that much, but He has chosen you for something specific – He has chosen to wrap you in His unfailing love, to be the subject of His love and blessings.

Those words of the pamphlet are so true and minister to me so much. Because it is exactly what He has asked of me – surrender everything to Him – even my writing. Especially my writing.

And that is why I did not get much accomplished in November. And I praise God for that, because it is ultimately His story, and He will write it how and when He pleases. And I am so honoured that He has chosen me to pen this story for Him.

So, don’t worry what others around you are doing – just follow you Him (John 21:22).

Posted in Book reviews, Books, God's Lessons

Book Review: “Destiny Delivered” by J.A. Marx #2 in Destiny Series

http://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Delivered-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00OAC35NS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417698290&sr=8-1&keywords=Destiny+Delivered

“Destiny Delivered” book Two in the Destiny Series by J.A. Marx

Review copy source from author

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

“Just don’t send me back to Hell Island…”
Chiara escaped nineteen years captivity and is now rebuilding her life from scratch. Everything would be fine if there were no men around for her to hate.
Isaac goes overboard in trying to get the mysterious Chiara, a former sex slave, accepted into his community. Few are willing to look beyond her social bumbling to find her hidden worth.
Just when things couldn’t get worse, the FBI tracks Chiara down and coerces her into helping them catch a murder/trafficker. Isaac’s wish to understand her unimaginable past comes true. He not only experiences her old world firsthand, he encounters the man who wants Chiara dead.

 

My Thoughts:

Wow. I can say that I definitely found a new favourite series and author. I knew I’d like this book after reading the first in the series (you can read my review of that one here: Destiny Defied), but I LOVED this book, and would read both this one and the first over again. I am so glad they sit proudly on my bookshelf where I can revisit them any time. :)

I was even further impressed with the healing knowledge J.A. Marx has and includes in her writing. I was so excited to read how the main character, Chiarra and her councilor went through God’s deep spiritual healing, because it is something my family and I have had the joy of experiencing as well, and it is just amazing!

The end of this book blew me away and I can’t wait to read the last book in this fantastic series. I think I “bonded” even deeper with Chiara in this book – so much so, that I kind of held her opinion of certain other characters…But by the end I appreciated and liked everyone (except for Max of course).

Chiara is such a loveable character, and she definitely is my favourite. I really liked Jase and Sabio a lot, as well as Isaac’s mom, Rachel Young (it was also kind of fun seeing her called Rae because that’s my nickname too.:)

There is so much to this book, that I fear I cannot give it the proper justice it deserves. I loved it so much and was brought through so much by it too. I even cried at the end, as Chiara went through her healing. Eeee, it is all just SO good!!

And I want to thank the author, J.A. Marx so very much for her kind conversation and sending me this book for review! It was and is a true blessing to me. :)