Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book Review: "Still Life"

While I enjoyed reading Dani Pettrey’s new book, Still Life, which is the second book in her Chesapeake Valor series, and am most definitely looking forward to read the third book, Blind Spot, to be released in October, I found Still Life a little challenging to read. Within this series, there are kinda/sorta eight main characters and Pettrey is juggling them all at once. I loved this when I was reading the first book, but it took me a while to remember who was who and then to keep them all straight as I began reading Still Life. The main focus of Still Life is on Avery Tate and Parker Mitchell, but the other characters, except one who is missing, all play a big role.

My other struggle was to follow all the story lines. As the book began, Avery and Tanner stumbled into a case that Declan then got an official call to work on. Avery invited Parker to help, too. But soon the team had to divide their time in order to work on another, more urgent case. At the same time, Kate was focused on finding the missing team member – and on convincing the team to not give up on him – while Parker remained determined to solve his former girlfriend’s murder.

While I plan to keep reading to learn what becomes of everyone and how each case is resolved, I sometimes felt, while reading Still Life, that there was just so much to take in that I didn’t know where to look. That said, I’m looking forward to reading the next book, but I may make a cheat sheet to remind me of who’s who before I start. I thank Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could share my thoughts with you.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: "Life After"

I love reading Katie Ganshert’s books, and her newest one, Life After, is the most soul-touching one yet. All of Ganshert’s books so far have shown the struggles of characters who’ve suffered loss, who are dealing with disappointment and grief. The main character in Life After, though, is the sole survivor of a terrorist attack. Complicating her trauma is the tragic loss of her mother in her pre-teen years. Autumn Manning suffers from survivor’s guilt on more than one front and must learn how to continue on.

As Autumn wrestles with feelings of unworthiness, one victim’s daughter becomes obsessed with her. When the attack first happened, the survivor, Autumn, was mistakenly identified as this child’s mom. Twelve-year-old Reese Elliott decides that this is a connection worth exploring and begins writing letter to Autumn. When her father learns what she’s doing, he tries to put a stop to it. But Reese is determined.

As the connection grows between Autumn and the Elliott’s, all three, with the loving, though sometimes misdirected support of family learn how to trust God with what has come to be. I am thankful that Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book to read. I recommend it anyone who has known tragedy, disappointment, or grief.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book Review: "The Dog Who Was There"

It may not have been possible for a dog like Barley to understand all that was happening in Jerusalem in those days surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection, but through his eyes, author Ron Marasco brings readers to a deeper understand of grace and the difference that Kingdom living makes. I couldn’t put this book down! A loyal and innocent dog experiencing the harshness of life and maintaining his sweet spirit makes a compelling character able to carry the message we all need to hear—through fresh eyes whenever possible—over and over again.

Barley’s journey begins with his mother and an adoring little boy. Barley knows contentment until he experiences trauma, then finds contentment again. And so, the story goes . . . not unlike most lives. But Barley’s ups and downs, tragedies and blessings make him a witness, and even a participant in several Passion Week events. Readers see this, and the resulting transformations of the people who Barley encounters who encounter Christ.

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book, so I could share my opinion with you. As you prepare for Easter, this book may help you see it in a new and unique way.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: "Cherish"

The title of this book says it well: Cherish: The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage. In fact, as author Gary Thomas presents it, cherish could be the one word that changes everything in most of our meaningful relationships. We get to practice and perfect with our spouses, but many of the concepts in this book can be applied to other people we love, too.

Cherish is the sequel, of sorts, to Sacred Marriage. In that book, Thomas explored learning to truly love your spouse. This book, of course, explores cherish. As Thomas explains it, “To truly cherish something is to go out of our way to show it off, protect it, and honor it. We want others to see and recognize and affirm the value that we see . . . when we cherish a person, we will put time, thought, and effort into honoring, showcasing, and protecting them . . . Learning to truly cherish each other turns marriage from an obligation into delight. It lifts marriage above a commitment to a precious priority.” The chapters of this book tell couples how.

I highly recommend this book to all married couples, then to anyone who wants to learn better how to cherish people as Jesus does. Zondervan sent me a complimentary copy, so I could share this opinion with you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: "Your Magnificent Chooser"

I love the concept John Ortberg presents in his new children’s book, Your Magnificent Chooser. It’s an introduction to free will for children. They have the ability to make choices and must make many every day. As they grow they must learn what they can and cannot choose and how to respond when they face choices they don’t like. They get to choose their attitude. They can choose to let God direct their choices.

The illustrations in this book (by Robert Dunn) are whimsical and sweet. I love the soft colors and fuzzy texture. The matching expressions on the children’s and choosers' faces are great.

I was a little bit disappointed in the text, though. The rhyme patterns were inconsistent and, therefore, challenging to read aloud. The words don't just roll off the reader's tongue.

Also some of the choices Ortberg presented at the beginning of the book were ones that young children don’t yet get to make – whether or not to take a bath or go to bed. He does move from those choices into choosing to have a right attitude when told to do something one doesn't want to do or choosing to get along when friends’ choices conflict. I just fear that these great concepts as presented may be beyond a young child’s understanding.

That said, the book can serve as an introduction, a tool for parents to use as they talk with their children further about choices they can and can’t make. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Kids, so I could share my thoughts about it with you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review: "The Newcomer"

Suzanne Woods Fisher's The Newcomer is the second book in her Amish Beginnings series. I love the setting of these novels: pre-Revolutionary War America, Penn's Woods. The first book brought the little community across the ocean from Germany. This book finds them attempting to settle their new land. To do so, however, they must overcome unexpected obstacles, endure life-threatening trials, and learn to get along with new neighbors, all without compromising their faith.

At times, the book made me anxious. Some of the problems these characters faced seemed hopeless! But there were moments of fun as well. I enjoyed Fisher's portrayal of Benjamin Franklin and his wife; she chose a great role for him to play in her book. I also enjoyed learning how the Amish ended up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and about other faith groups attempting to settle in America, too.

If you enjoy Amish or historical fiction with a hint of romance thrown in, I recommend this book to you. Revell sent me a complimentary copy, so I could share my thoughts with you.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: "Maybe It's You"

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert is her third Crisis Team book set in California. The first two were set in Sacramento and San Diego, respectively. This one takes readers to Los Angeles. The city may be different, but the main character will be familiar to readers of the first two books. This is Sloane Ferrell's story. Readers knew her as the grumpy and difficult Sloane Wilder, but now she's changed her name and her ways. She's desperately trying to start fresh, to live a quiet life helping those who come for treatment in the hospital's ER.

When she rescues a troubled teenager and refuses to accept recognition for her heroism, she gains the attention that she does not want though. Reporters take notice, and so do people from her past.

Micah Prescott notices, too. His job is to boost the hospital's image. His passion is to be there to assist in traumatic situations as a volunteer crisis responder. Both roles put him in Sloane's path.

Whether or not, you've read the first two books of the series, you can enjoy this one. I recommend all of Calvert's books which highlight different major cities while giving readers a glimpse into crisis response and emergency medicine. Tyndale House Publishers sent me a copy of Maybe It's You, so I could post these thoughts.