Posted in Bethany House, Blogging For Books, Book reviews, BookCrash, Booklook Review, Books, Chuck Black, Heather Day Gilbert, Litfuse, NetGalley Book Review, reading, Revell Reads, Reviews, Tessa Afshar, Tyndale House, update

Another year past/2015

Hello! Today is the last day of 2015. I hope it was a good year for all of you! And I hope 2016 brings lots of blessings and lessons from our Lord too. :)

I am going to do my yearly post of books I read over the past year…so, here we go! I’m showing them from the latest I read to the first I read back in January of 2015. Each image should bring you to their GoodReads page and my review if applicable. :)

 

The Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #2) 
 
 
 
 
 
Meant to be Mine (Porter Family, #2) A Dream Not Imagined: A Cinderella StoryThe Art of Losing YourselfFive Glass SlippersThe Choosing (Seer, #1)
The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, #1) The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (Thornbeck, #1)Esther: The Story of a Woman Who Saved a NationSide by SideTrial by Twelve (A Murder in the Mountains, #2)
Beauty (Folktales, #1) The Salt CovenantsJoseph of Arimathea: A Tale of the ResurrectionFinding MeRise of the Fallen (Wars of the Realm, #2)
For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights into the Missionary Journey Brothers and BetrayalLove by the Letter (Unexpected Brides, #0.5)The Tomb: A Novel of Martha (The Living Water, #3)Remember the Lilies
Stay in the Castle Adventures and AdversitiesHow to Catch a Prince (Royal Wedding, #3)An Uncertain Choice (An Uncertain Choice, #1)Dauntless (Valiant Hearts, #1)
The Vow (An Uncertain Choice, #0.5) The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks (The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury, #1) The Crimson Cord: Rahab's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land, #1) Paper Hearts Journey to the Well
Both of Me Waltz into the Waves: A Cinderella StoryTiger LilyDeliver Me from Evil (Freedom #1)  Beyond All Dreams
 Cloak of the Light (Wars of the Realm, #1)
Most of them were very good, and some were so-so, and other’s weren’t a favourite. But ultimately, I had a very good reading year! Top ten favourites? Hard choice! But here are SOME, in no order:
“Resistance” and “Half-Blood” by Jaye L. Knight
“Not Abandoned” by MacKenzie Morganthal
“Brothers-in-Arms” by Jack Lewis Baillot (not published yet)
“The Fragrance of Geraniums” and “All Our Empty Places” by Alicia G. Ruggieri
“The Tomb” by Stephanie Landsem
“The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest” and “Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson
“Better than Peanut Butter Ice Cream” by Kristen Krueger
“Through Waters Deep” by Sarah Sundin
“Rise of the Fallen” by Chuck Black
“Dauntless” and “Chivalrous” by Dina L. Sleiman
Okay, so I realise I cheated a little and did more than ten, but there are only ten lines, so… :D
Some Honourable Mentions:
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman
A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu
The Tethered World by Heather FitzGerald
Side by Side by Jana Kelley
For the Joy Set Before Us by Erica Fye
Annnnnd there were more I enjoyed. :) But I will end here. What books were your favourites of the year? Could you pick just a few? :D
Here’s to more reading in 2016!
Posted in Book reviews, Books, Reviews

Book Review: “Mardan’s Mark” by Kathrese McKee

 B00QZ3PKRE cover

“Mardan’s Mark” by Kathrese McKee

Mardan’s Mark Series Book One

Review ecopy source: The author

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Death is not their deepest fear.

Abducted by pirates and taken behind enemy lines across the Great Gulf, Princess Srilani is determined to save her sisters and younger brother, the crown prince, from captivity.

She convinces their caretaker, Aldan, and his brother slaves to share the perilous journey home. This ragtag group of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest—pursued by cutthroat pirates, merciless priests, and marauding soldiers—to return the heir to his kingdom before war breaks out.

In this epic adventure fantasy, Srilani and Aldan risk everything to save a prince and a nation, discovering along the way that death is not their deepest fear.

 

My Thoughts:

Hmm…I am quite torn about this book. On one hand, the adventure was fantastic. On the other hand, the spiritual aspect of this book caused great concern for me. If it weren’t for that, I would’ve really adored this book. It was terrifically written, the plot engaging, and the characters very like-able, my favourite being Sam. I know most people loved Aldan as the main male character, but for me, while Aldan was okay, I really liked Sam. I liked Rene’ too until a certain scene came about.
I really appreciate the lack of stress in this book – let me explain. Most adventure/fantasy novels put you through a great deal of stress with lots of scenes that just have you on the brink of a breakdown (haha!), and this book had just the right amount of ‘dangerous’ scenes that had you frightened, but not so much that you were stressed for a long time. I really was glad of that! I don’t like being stressed out when reading. :D
However, concerning the spiritual aspects… There was a scene where some of the characters were administering help to a dying person – I assumed they were going to pray over the person, which I agree with – God is our Healer – but they began chanting and that’s what healed the woman. It was a very strange, and discomfiting scene in my opinion. And that wasn’t all – the whole ‘feeling’ of their relationship with God – El as He was referred to in the book – was not Holy to me. It made me very wary.
The abundant references to Sol, or the Sun, was also very concerning to me. They even prayed towards the sun, which the Bible tells us not to do. Afterwards, the character doing this said to another “We worship El, the Creator of Sol” – but then you wouldn’t pray towards the Sun, or bow your face to it, which they did. Sol was mentioned much too much to just be a passing remark of the sun being a light in the day. It also made me very uncomfortable.
There wasn’t a great deal of respect shown to El either – they used sentences that I would normally think were a curse word – “For the love of —” was used frequently, and that isn’t respectful in my opinion.
So, you can see why I’m torn. Had it not had these spiritual aspects, I would’ve completely loved the book. And I did enjoy it, it just has great concerns for me as well.
I’m not sure I’ll read the next one, Healer’s Curse, because of the emphasis they put on Healers having “the gift”. Only God is the Healer, not people.

 

*I received a complimentary ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Posted in 1940's, Book reviews, Fiction Guild, Litfuse

FictionGuild/Litfuse Book review: “The Wedding Chapel” by Rachel Hauck

“The Wedding Chapel” by Rachel Hauck
Review copy source: Litfuse and Fiction Guild
My rating: 4 out 5 Stars
About the Book:

A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.

For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.

Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, to make a new life for herself in New York. She had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement—then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.

Taking a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, Taylor is thrown back into a past of family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. When Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth the wait.

My Thoughts:
This was certainly a cute read. I really enjoyed it. :) Normally I don’t pick up too many contemporary books, but having read one of Rachel Hauck’s other books and enjoying it, I wasn’t hesitant to try another, and I’m glad I did! This one had pieces of the story that were set in the late 40’s/early 50’s, and it was all so delightfully depicted.
The only thing I didn’t care for and would warn others about is the amount of ‘intimate’ moments there were. I don’t think they were necessary at all, at least in any detail.
The faith strand was very powerful at the end, and had me a tiny bit water-eyed I admit. :) Though I didn’t “agree” that once you’ve heard God’s heart, it stops and becomes solely part of walking by faith. Yes, we are definitely to walk by faith (amen to that), but we can also hear the heart of God no matter what.
The characters were very real – their flaws and all. I enjoyed the journeys each went on within themselves. Not sure I could pick a favourite…Jimmy and Collette in their teen years especially, and I really enjoyed Taylor’s character. And Jack. At the first introduction of him, I wasn’t sure, but as we got to read from his point of view, my heart ached for him.
I really like Rachel Hauck’s writing – oh! And there was a mention of one of her previous books that I thought was cute. :)
All in all, I found this to be quite an enjoyable book! Recommended for ages 18+
I received a complimentary copy from the publishers/Litfuse/FictionGuild in exchange for my honest review which I have given.
Posted in Uncategorized

“Love is in the Heart” Writing Contest!

Hello my friendly readers! Today I’m sharing about a writing contest that a friend is putting on – it sounds pretty fun, and I’m hoping to join in! I’m reblogging her post to help spread the word:

 

~LOVE IS IN THE HEART CONTEST~

 

“I’ve decided this will be a Valentine’s contest, with love being the over-all theme. It can be romance, but doesn’t have to be. Other types of loves stories are worth celebrating too. (mother/child, best friends, etc.) Any genre is accepted Romance, Western, Cozy Mystery, Children’s, MG, YA, NA, MA (Middle age, I’m thinking of readers my age, lol!), and the list goes on- as long as it’s fiction and clean. (No horror, please).

The word limit is 5000 words. No minimum word count required.

The deadline for your entry(s) is noon, on February 1rst. I’ll announce the winner(s) on (drumroll, please) Valentine’s day! (Big surprise, huh?)

In order to have a contest we need entries, so it will take at least 5 entries to hold one. If we can’t garner enough interest, then we may have to cancel, but hopefully, you will all get inspired and write your hearts out with love!!!

If we get 5 entries, we’ll only have one winner, but if we get 10 entries, we’ll have a first and second place. If we get at least 14 entries (In honor of February 14th) we’ll have a first, second, and third place! You may enter more than one story if you wish. Please make it one you haven’t won in a previous competition.

This would be a great time to spread the word about this contest, and invite your friends to the group or share my blog link so they can participate!

You’ll also be welcome to beta swap/read, and critique each other’s stories by posting an ad under the files tab so you can polish them up for submission!

Prize(s) are yet to be determined, but will be rather limited as your host is providing the spoils. (No trip to the Bahamas, yet! But who knows as time goes on what will happen, lol!

Your stories, and the rights to them will be yours to keep. (They will not be published in any shape or form). Please mull around the idea and let me know if you come up with something. I need to know fairly soon if we’re going to reach our goal for the number of stories we need to continue with our contest.”

=============
Go HERE to Lesa’s blog to keep updated and find out more! Hope to have your participation! :)
Posted in lists, Questions/answers

The Tag of Happiness

I was so kindly tagged by Shantelle for this fun tag! Thank you! So, shall we begin? :)

 

Some Songs That Make You Happy:

“Feel it” – TobyMac (and pretty much all of his…)

“Drops in the Ocean” – Hawk Nelson

Pretty much all Tenth Avenue North songs

“Strangers like Me” and “Son of Man” from Tarzan

“Broken Girl” – Matthew West

“I’m Reading a Book” – Julian Smith :D

“Raise it Up” – Press Play

Goats that sing Christmas songs (it’s a real thing!)

This video of One Direction’s Story of My Life with dubbed in voices.

 

Some Books That Make You Happy:

(Get ready for a long list!)

Pearl in the Sand, Harvest of Rubies, Harvest of Gold, In the Field of Grace, all by Tessa Afshar

The Knights of Arrethtrae, Kingdom Series, and Wars of the Realm series by Chuck Black

The Wings of Glory series, and “Through Waters Deep” by Sarah Sundin

The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight

Not Abandoned by MacKenzie Morganthal

A Time of Grace series, and The House of Mercy, by Alicia Ruggieri

Brothers-in-Arms by Jack Lewis Ballot

A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu

The Living Water series by Stephanie Landsem

The Valiant Heart series by Dina L. Sleiman

Better than Peanut Butter Icecream by Kristen Krueger

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, and The Golden Braid, both by Melanie Dickerson

Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma

Waltz into the Waves by Sarah Holman

The Destiny Series by J.A. Marx

God’s Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

 

Some Movies That Make You Happy:

 

Wives and Daughters (BBC) – Molly is one of the sweetest characters out there. “He has a beard?” :)

North and South (BBC) – I’ll not hide the fact that I admire Richard Armitage and his superb acting – he and Margaret in this movie make me happy. :) “I wish to marry you because I love you!”

Persuasion (1995 with Amanda Root) – *Extremely happy sigh* Yes, fantastic movie. “I can no longer listen in silence…”

Downton Abbey (most of it – be forewarned: we forward/skip things) – Watching this with my Mum and sister is a very happy thing. “I’m not asking you to wait forever…”

Cranford & Cranford Returns – “There’s lace at stake!”

How To Train Your Dragon 1&2 – “Everything we ever thought about you is wrong…”

Poldark (the new series) – “I’m that glad, Sir” :)

Little Dorrit – “5 and 20 Tatty Corum!” (but we all know Arthur Clennem and Little Dorrit are the best part of the movie)

Bleak House – “Shake me up Judy!”

 

Some Foods That Make You Happy:

Chocolate, cheesecake, Culver’s custard icecream, whip-cream, pizza, cheeseburgers, cereal, chocolate truffles, pumpkin pie, cookies, cocoa… :)

 

Some Words That Make You Happy:

Jesus, Family, Friends, Paper, Medieval, Fantasy, “New Messages from my Best Friend” (you know who you are), Beautiful, Cats/Kitty, Books, Truth, Snow, Swan, Redeem, Letter, Love.

 

Some Scents That Make You Happy:
Fresh pine/cinnamon smell, cocoa, tea, freshly baked cookies, winter (it has a smell!), up north (that has a smell too!), homemade soup, rose, lavender, lemon.
Some Random Things That Make You Happy:
Just being with my family, READING, writing, notebooks, paper, pencils, pens, washi-tape(!!), letters, penpals, Pinterest, new books, cats, when it’s snowing, How To Train Your Dragon everything.
Guidelines:
Take the banner and put it in your post
List as many things as you want in each category
Come up with more categories if you wish

Tag as many people as you want
And as for who I tag:
Lesa McKee at Happily Indie After
Soleil at Thoughts from a Daughter of God (I know you usually only post serious, thought-provoking things, so it’s okay if you don’t want to do this – just wanted to include you if you did!)
And anybody that wants it! Comment with the links to your posts – I’d love to read!
Posted in Book reviews

Book Review: Prankster by Sierra Blasko

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Space Kitties: Feline Forays Through the Galaxies (#1): “Prankster” by Sierra Blasko

(This book contains multiple stories, but today I am just reviewing the first one by Sierra Blasko)

Review copy source: The author

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

About the book:

“Close your eyes. Imagine kitties were in space. Open your eyes. Read”

Light-hearted tales of feline adventure from across the cosmos, by a collection of authors from across the country. Many sci-fi fans have noticed the lack of an animal element in their fare for a long time.. and now we have changed that! Eleven far thinking spec-fic authors banded together for a collection of fun, unique and suspenseful stories about kitties in space. What could be better?

Subtly humor-slanted focus, to be in keeping with the cute and fuzzy kitty on the cover. A variety of styles… and varying lengths: from 300 words to 10k… and a wide range of subjects & themes…. all with a cat involved with outer space in some way.

Join this twelve pack of literary entries as kitties take to the stars amid the cosmos of your imagination…

My Review:

Having gotten to know Miss Blasko a bit online, I was eager to read some of her written work – what a delight! Her tale of this little Space Kitty was charming. I admit I have quite a soft spot for kitties, so this book concept enthralls me. ^.^
Miss Blasko’s writing is very talented, and easy to follow. In a short story, she did very well! “Prankster” had the endearing cat, a touch of mystery and adventure, and a good conclusion.
Definitely looking forward to more from this author in the future!
Posted in Book reviews, Tyndale House

Tyndale Book Review: “Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” by Missy Robertson

 

“Blessed, Blessed…Blessed” by Missy Robertson

Nonfiction

Review copy source: Tyndale Blog Review program

My rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

 

About the Book:

Missy Robertson knew that marrying duck-hunting family man Jase Robertson would be an adventure . . . and she was up to the challenge. Their life together was good (even after Jase grew the beard). They had two children, worked hard to help build the thriving Duck Commander business, and loved and served God.

But after a difficult and risky pregnancy, their daughter, Mia, was born with a cleft palate―a serious condition requiring multiple cranial and facial surgeries. As their baby struggled to breathe, and Missy and Jase faced a life that suddenly looked very different than the one they’d planned, they found themselves staring down one of life’s biggest questions: Where is God in all this pain?

This is the Robertsons’ story. It’s for anyone scared and overwhelmed by a problem they can’t fix; anyone lost and searching for a way through. You’ll meet the young girl Mia who captured A&E’s Duck Dynasty viewers’ hearts, and learn how Missy and Jase have raised her and their sons to be faithful, confident, and secure in who they are. You’ll be inspired by how the Robertson family stuck by each other through the hardest times. And you’ll discover that God’s blessings are bigger than you ever dreamed―and there when you need them the most.

 

My Thoughts:

I am glad that the Duck Dynasty members have chosen to write their stories, because the TV can only capture so much, and much of it being what it wants to capture. But as with everyone, their lives are more complex. The trials Missy, Jase, and their family have gone through, mostly surrounding their youngest daughter, Mia’s cleft lip and palate, can be staggering. But it is a blessing that they’ve had the Lord to lean upon, because really there is no other way to get through anything like that.
Some of it did make me sad, because I could see the areas in which Missy and Jase are particularly broken. I didn’t agree with a lot of Missy’s views. She kept saying how she had to be strong for her children, and her children couldn’t see her emotional or break down. And I don’t agree with that. We aren’t to be strong by our own strength, anyway – we’re supposed to lean on the Lord fully and use His strength. And I think it’s important for all children to see their parents true and raw, even if that means falling apart – God wants us transparent, and children can definitely grow up healthy in seeing their parents that way.I’m not saying freaking out and always being a wreck, I’m just saying that if children can see their parents sad and scared at times and know that they go to God when they are troubled, then that teaches them to do the same.
I also didn’t agree with Missy thinking that Mia (and all of her children) be so independent at a very young age, almost not even relying on Mom or Dad at all. I don’t think that’s wise – God gave us parents for a reason, to grow us and be there for us, to give us security. Not to replace God, but at such a young age, children need that security. I believe if they don’t get that, and don’t understand how to go to God (and really, not many do at such an age) they use their own coping-mechanisms to handle life. And that only makes it hard later on to lean on God.
The relationship between Mia and Bella especially was really cute. What a blessing that they could be (and are) so close.  The support Bella lovingly gave to Mia was precious. :)
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review which I have given.