Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Review: Undeniably Yours

Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade is the story of what happens when you take one unimaginably wealthy heiress and have her threaten the dream of one incredibly determined cowboy. One would expect sparks to fly, but Wade doesn’t give her readers what they would expect. Undeniably Yours is a compassionate love story, the story of a woman recovering from a life of heartache and the first man ever whose cared to protect her—even if it costs what he wants most for himself.

I enjoyed reading this sweet book. Not only did I get to discover what become of Meg and Bo, I also got to watch as Meg overcame the hurts of her past, discovered God’s good plan for her life (and the wealth He’d bestowed), and, in turn, helped many others to do the same. That’s about all I can say about that without risking spoiling the story for you. I am hoping for a sequel or two, though. I think three or four members of the supporting cast could find the loves of their lives with a few more pages devoted just to them.

Bethany House Publishers sent a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I recommend it to fans of contemporary Christian romance books.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: Backyard Horses

Backyard HorsesBackyard Horses by Dandi Daley Mackall is the first book in her Horse Dreams series for middle-elementary-aged children (probably most appealing to girls). Ellie James, the main character, is ten-years-old and in the fourth grade. Her younger brother, Ethan, is deaf, so she and her best friend, Colt, have both learned sign language in order to communicate more easily with him. This also allows them to send secret messages to each other in public places, such as in their classroom at school.

Ellie loves to daydream. She also loves horses. Her favorite daydream is about owning a horse, a Hamilton Royal Champion Horse. Some of the other girls at school have their very own perfect show horses, but Ellie is still waiting and praying for hers. Begging her parents and crying to them haven’t brought this horse into being, so now she’s trying prayer. Backyard Horses tells us what comes of that.

I enjoyed reading this clever story and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to parents looking for good books for their children to read. Positives: Though there’s a mean girl in the story, Ellie and Colt both handle her with patience and grace. When adults in the story make mistakes, Ellie is respectful and polite, yet stands up for what is right in creative ways. Ellie’s relationship with her family, best friend, and school teacher are all quite sweet. Best of all, Ellie learns some significant lessons about God’s nature and prayer. The message of 1 Samuel 16:7 is the subtle theme of the book.

I obtained this book on my own; no one sent it to me. I am choosing to review it for credit toward Tyndale’s Summer Reading Program.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: All in Good Time

All in Good TimeAll in Good Time by Maureen Lang is the story of two people whose secrets are keeping them from fully living life. Henry Hawkins’s secret has kept him from enjoying friendship, social events, even close family relationships. He fears if he lets himself get too close to anyone, they’ll learn what he wishes he had never done. He’d rather maintain a false reputation than develop healthy relationships.

Dessa Caldwell’s secret, on the other hand, has prompted her to throw herself fully into ministry to women who may be seeking alternatives for their lives. This same secret is keeping her from her dream and longing for marriage and a family, but that’s a sacrifice she feels bound to make. One must live with the consequences of one’s actions, after all. But how does that philosophy apply to the women she’s trying to help? If she sentences herself to a life without grace, how can she offer it to those who need its hope?

All in Good Time is an intriguing, historical Christian read set in Denver in the late 1800’s. It is the second book in Lang’s Gilded Legacy series. I’m looking forward to going back to read the first book!

No one gave me this book for this review. I obtained it myself, then learned I could review it for points in Tyndale’s Summer Reading Program.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: When Mockingbirds Sing

When Mockingbirds SingBilly Coffey’s newest novel, When Mockingbirds Sing, kept me guessing to the end. It’s kind of a bizarre story, but gives a worthwhile message at the end. A few questions are left unanswered, but I suspect that was intentional. Coffey’s next book, which comes out in March 2014, will be set in the same town. I’m already curious to see what will happen next in Mattingly.

When Mockingbirds Sing is the story of a little girl named Leah and her invisible friend, the Rainbow Man. Leah and her family are new to the town. Because Leah is quite shy and tends to stutter—a lot—her parents throw her a birthday party and invite the whole town. There Leah meets Allie who chooses her as her new best friend. Barney, the town’s toy maker, brings an easel as Leah’s birthday gift. This is where the troubles begin.

Leah’s mysterious paintings seem to predict the future and quickly divide the town. Is she gifted or cursed? And is the Rainbow Man real? Each person, including Leah’s parents, Allie, Barney, and the town’s minister, must choose what to believe and how to respond to this young girl.

I received a complimentary copy of When Mockingbirds Sing from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for this honest review. I was thankful for the opportunity to read this intriguing book.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Book Review: Still Lolo

Still Lolo is the story of one young woman and her family’s spiritual journey, from her childhood to the night of the tragic and devastating accident that put their faith to the test up to right now.

On December 3, 2011, Lauren Scruggs stepped out of a small airplane and into the path of its propeller. (In Chapter 19, Lauren’s father walks readers through the scene of the accident, clearly explaining how such a thing could happen—and did.) Miraculously, Lauren survived, though she lost her left eye and hand. (Lauren’s father also explains just what a close call it was: a miniscule measurement meant the difference between a clear miss, the injury, or death.)

But the book isn’t just about the accident or Lauren’s recovery. Family members take turns (with the help of Marcus Brotherton) telling about significant events of their lives leading up to the accident and how God used these to prepare the family the handle the trauma victoriously, in complete dependence on Him and with the abundant help of caring community. This book is packed full of lessons learned, faith in our sovereign God, generous gratitude, and praise.

Readers who are inspired by testimonies and biographies will want to read this book. I borrowed it from my local library in order to participate in Tyndale’s Summer Reading Program.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: You Don't Know Me

You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren is a story of secrets and honesty and forgiveness and second chances and trusting God to help with it all. I really enjoyed reading this book! It’s the sixth of the Deep Haven Novels, though these books don’t have to be read in order. (I still haven’t gotten to books 1, 2, and 3, but plan to very soon, I hope!) Each of these books is set in the small tourist town of Deep Haven, Minnesota, and tells the story of some of the inhabitants there.

You Don’t Know Me is the story of the Decker family. Nathan and Annalise appear to be the perfect couple with three nearly perfect kids. Middle child, Colleen is the only one Annalise worries about. Colleen’s attraction to Tucker, the boy Annalise has branded bad news, is cause for great concern.

Greater concerns are coming, though. Agent Frank Harrison has news about the man Annalise testified against twenty years ago . . . when she was still Deidre O’Reilly . . . before she entered the witness security program and changed her whole identity, a little fact she neglected to mention to her family.

I won’t tell you any more, except that Susan May Warren came up with the perfect solution to this tragic dilemma while weaving many essential truths about Christian living into the tale. (I was most touched by Helen's struggle and growth.)
I’m happy to recommend this book which I obtained on my own just because I wanted to read it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: Sparkly Green Earrings

Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle is her memoir of motherhood thus far. Within its 27 chapters, Melanie takes us from the decision to have a child to her daughter’s eighth birthday. She covers sleepless nights, preschool challenges, sandbox socialization, and why road trips are worth the effort. As I laughed and, sometimes, empathized, my way through each chapter, I often had to agree, “Yes—that’s just the way it is.”

If you’re preparing for motherhood or deep in the trenches of child rearing, you’ll find comfort in Melanie’s stories, knowing others have been through it, too. Sparkly Green Earrings will help you see the humor, hope, and joy. And, if you’ve already grown through the early years, this book will bring back treasured memories as you giggle with another mother who has been there and done that.

I obtained this book on my own when it was offered free for Amazon Kindle a few months ago. I’m reviewing it to participate in Tyndale’s Summer Reading Program.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book Review: Gone South

I was surprised by Meg Moseley’s new book, Gone South. I knew it was the story of a young (ish) woman who moves from Michigan to Alabama on an impulse only to find that, for a Yankee, fitting into a small town in the Deep South can still be a challenge—especially if she carries her great-great-great grandparents’ notorious name and moves into the actual house that they once owned. But I didn’t know I’d find a twenty-year-old homeless prodigal desperately trying to go back home. That was the part of the story that grabbed my heart.

Melanie Hamilton finds life on the road to be much too dangerous, and so, after a few years away, she returns to Noble, Alabama, only to learn she’s still unwelcome in her parents’ home. Thankfully, Tish McComb, the newcomer in town, is ready to fill her new, old house with friends. After seeing Melanie around town several times, always wearing the same clothes, she takes pity on her and invites her to move in—only to learn that the town which refuses to accept Tish because of her infamous name now also rejects her for the company she’s keeping.

I wasn’t able to anticipate how this story would unfold, and so, I became quite engrossed in learning the fate of its characters. Even Daisy, the Maltese dog, struggled to feel at home. If you’ve ever felt like an outcast, this book has a message for you.

I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending a complimentary copy for this honest review.