Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman

A Passion Redeemed  I enjoyed this story, but I did feel like it was a lot tougher to read emotionally than book one of this series. Charity's made some bad choices and there are some harsh consequences for her to deal with.  I ended up liking Charity more in this book because we see some of the reasons she is the way she is.

This picks up where book one left off and then jumps a year, to Charity trying to win Mitch no matter the cost and Mitch trying to get over his love for Faith. Even though Mitch is very attracted to Charity, he can't trust her and after the way he's been burned before, he can't risk it.  Mitch needs a woman who loves God as much as he does, not someone who lies and flirts to get what she wants.  However, he can't stop thinking about her.  Can Mitch forgive her?  Will Charity finally surrender to the love of God, the love she's been looking for all along? 

I love the O'Connors! Charity's story was very interesting and a roller-coaster ride, and I can't wait to read about the rest of the family!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

A Passion Most Pure  This is an amazing book! I loved the romance and redemption in this story and I fell in love with the O'Connors.

The O'Connors are a big Irish Catholic family living in Boston in 1916. The first book focuses on Faith, a girl perpetually in the shadow of her younger sister Charity because of her beauty and who's secretly had a crush on Collin McGuire for years.  Collin's nothing but trouble and forbidden by her father.  Faith and Charity are opposites; where Faith tries to do what's right and please God, Charity thinks mainly of herself and what she wants. When Faith finds out Collin is secretly dating her sister, she accidentally sets things in motion that will change their lives forever. Who will Collin choose? What will happen when America enters World War I?

Faith is a great character! I could really identify with her, but Charity made me so angry! There's a lot of drama involving them and I don't think I've ever seen so many fights!  Each of the characters felt so real and had flaws aplenty.  I like that we see the tough choices Faith has to make and her struggles with temptation and choosing God's will or her own.  I loved Faith's parents, Marcy and Patrick.  They have an amazing love story and Julie just released it as an e-book called "A Light in the Window." I'm reading the next book in the series now and will post a review of it in the next day or two.  I can't wait to read about all of the O'Connors!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jesus: Pure and Simple by Wayne Cordeiro

Jesus  This is an amazing book! It has so much insight and clarified some things for me that I hadn't realized about life and myself.  I found myself wanting to underline passages to re-read later.

The whole purpose of this book is that we need to get back to Jesus. Cordeiro points out that the devil wants us to think following Jesus is complicated so that we will get discouraged and give up.  We start to worry about rules and to-do lists instead of focusing on Jesus and our relationship.  He shows us ways in which we get distracted or off track and how to recognize this and correct back.  Satan likes to mix his deception with truth, and the only solution is to correct back to Jesus' teachings and the spirit in which He taught. If we correct back to another person or time period, it becomes too easy to be just a little off the mark and so become a modern-day Pharisee. 

Some of the topics are being in the world, but not of it; focusing on Jesus and not our problems; serving in secret; the importance of spending time with Jesus by reading the Bible; being available; and contentment.  He continuously points back to Jesus and that if we focus on Him, everything else will fall into place.  Cordeiro uses a lot of examples from history and his own life to illustrate his points, which makes for very interesting reading.  He also uses a lot of Scripture so we can read for ourselves the truths he's pointing out. There are also questions at the end of each chapter that can be used by an individual or in a group setting.

I would highly recommend this book to any Christian, whether you've just started walking with Jesus or have been doing so for years.  There's a lot of truth in this book and Jesus can change our lives if we keep it pure and simple!

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Uncut: What Really Happened and Why It Really Matters by Carl Laferton

Christmas Uncut: What Really Happened and Why It Really Matters...  This is such an interesting and informative little book! It's especially aimed at unbelievers or those who may not know the details of the true Christmas story.  Each chapter focuses on a different person or group in the story and their role, such as the wise men or Mary.

At the beginning of each chapter, the author gives us an amusing scene from a children's nativity play.  The next section is called "What really happened" and features the actual Scripture in bold showing what really happened with some of his explanation mixed in.  He gives the Scripture references for each section next so you can read them for yourself in the Bible.  The last section is "Why it really matters" and he had very interesting thoughts about how this applies to us. The section on the wise men asked if these men were crazy or stupid to travel so far, bring gifts, and worship a baby, but he points out this isn't just any baby.  If Jesus is truly a Savior and King, then we need to decide whether to worship Him ourselves and what that really means. He also points to the cross and that this was Jesus' ultimate purpose in coming. The salvation message is included, along with resources for people who want to keep investigating and answers to some questions people may have.

This was a great, quick read!  Even though I'm very familiar with the true Christmas story, I still found things to take away from this book and make me think.  It was very amusing; I got a kick out of the little kids in their nativity play and the funny things they did. I liked the examples from history and his own life.  I think anyone would enjoy this book and it would make a great gift!

Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway of Promise to Protect!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Twang by Julie L. Cannon

This was an interesting story centered on a singer-songwriter who's made it big in the Nashville music scene.  Though fiction, it feels like a memoir as Jennifer Clodfelter tells the story of how she rose to fame and the realization that she still wasn't happy.  She was twenty-three when she left her mountain home and past behind her to make it big as a country music star.  She was extremely naive upon arriving in Nashville and found out pretty quick it wasn't going to be as easy as she thought.  The man who signs her wants her to write songs that come from her broken past, but it tears her up inside to relive the memories, especially one horrific memory that she keeps burying deep inside. The songs keep hitting number one and she's tiptoeing around landmines, afraid she's going to lose it in front of an audience.

Then she meets Tonilynn, her hairstylist, a Christian who encourages her to talk about her memories and release them to God so she can be free. Tonilynn's quite a character, as is her Aunt Gomer, who's getting forgetful and is quite stubborn.  A few chapters are told from Aunt Gomer's perspective and those were quite amusing.  While Tonilynn has her heart in the right place, she was very pushy and I think would have pushed Jennifer away from God even more except for Tonilynn being her only friend.  She is also welcomed by Tonilynn's aunt and son and spends a lot of time with this family in their mountain home.  Jennifer had given up on God as a teenager, certain that He doesn't care after allowing bad things to happen to her.  She wants peace, but turns to the Cumberland River for that feeling and visits it every Saturday.  What will it take for her to realize that that isn't true peace? Can she release her pain to God and forgive her father?

I enjoyed this story partly because I love music.  I like some country and I've been to Nashville so I was familiar with most of the artists she talks about and some of the places mentioned, including the Bluebird Cafe!  The author did a good job of making that world come alive.  The pacing was well-done, with knowing some of her childhood but not everything revealed until near the end.  I liked the quirky characters and the message of forgiveness and trusting God no matter what you're going through.

I received a free copy of this book from Abingdon Press in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Plain & Simple Heart by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

book title front  This was a cute story about Rebecca Switzer, a naive and hopeful Amish girl who sets out to find Jesse, her one true love... whom she hasn't seen for four years!  Along the way she gets caught up in the temperance movement, gets arrested, and meets a handsome sheriff who just might give Jesse a run for his money!

This is book two in the Amish of Apple Grove series and it easily stands alone, though you do meet Rebecca's sister and family, the subjects of book one.  Rebecca met Jesse on a cattle drive when she was thirteen and fell for him and she's sure that when he sees her again as a grown woman, he'll fall for her too.  She hears he's in a town on the opposite side of Kansas from her, but she's determined to get to him and convinces her sister to help.  She barely arrives in Lawrence when she gets caught up in a temperance protest and finds herself in jail.  Colin, the long-suffering sheriff, has only two weeks left before he can hand over his star to his replacement and set out to start an orphanage and build a church like he feels called to; he does not want any trouble, especially from a woman who claims to be Amish but keeps stirring things up.  Between outlaw sightings and the men and women of the town constantly bickering, he can't wait to leave, but will he be able to leave Rebecca behind?  Will she ever find her one true love?

Rebecca was an extremely naive girl, but I had to remind myself it was 1884 and she was Amish.  I liked her character a lot; she was constantly trying to be the good Amish girl but speaking before she thought and very stubborn.  I really liked Colin too, along with the secondary characters.  It didn't feel like Rebecca and Colin had a whole lot of interaction or much of a progression to falling in love, but the book did take place in the span of a couple of weeks.  I also liked learning more about the temperance movement.  This book made me smile the whole way through!

Thanks to Harvest House Publishers for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Still time to sign up for the giveaway of My Stubborn Heart!

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Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Giveaway of 5 books!

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Christian Bookshelf Reviews

High Calling weekly e-newsletter

I had never heard of this site or their weekly newsletter, but I was interested to see what they were all about.  Their site says "everyday conversations about work, life, and God," and I found their newsletter to contain varied topics dealing with these subjects. Each newsletter contains an audio message, a few articles, and a short video, along with articles of interest from other sites.  Some of the topics were about fearing the unknown, how being helpful at work can be more about your attitude, and knowing your gifts. 

One that resonated more with me was about feeling like your job is insignificant or wondering what possible difference could a few more keystrokes make. What difference could this day make in the grand scheme of things?  The author talked about the butterfly effect and how the flapping of their wings can impact weather around the world.  They don't realize the effect they have and that might be true for us as well.  All we can do is our best and let God take care of what or how great an impact we'll have.  We just need to be faithful in our flapping!

Overall, I found the newsletters encouraging and informative. They seek to equip you in your job and encourage you in life.  Some of the topics interested me and others didn't, but I think anyone could probably find a topic of interest to them.

Here's the link to their site. You have the option of signing up for free daily or weekly emails.

High Calling

I received a $10 gift card from Handlebar Central in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Steppin' Into the Good Life by Tia McCollors


 This was an enjoyable real-to-life story. I was frustrated with Sheila, the main character, at first but I really liked her as the story progressed.

Sheila Rushmore has hit a low point. She's been out of a job for months, lives with a crazy roommate, and has now crashed her ex's wedding to watch him remarry his ex-wife.  However, during the service the pastor leads them in the sinner's prayer and she prays it and believes it.  Her life doesn't suddenly become perfect, but she meets a cute guy at the wedding and things are looking up.  She still makes some bad choices and struggles with wanting the good life, which to her is made up of designer shoes and a rich husband to take care of her.  I struggled to like her at first because she seemed really shallow and high-maintenance, having lived way above her means when she had a job and now very in debt.  It was all about her.  I was also very frustrated with some of the choices she makes.

Then she meets Eden, a Christian bookstore owner who takes her under her wing and shows her unconditional love.  She starts reading a great devotional, the Bible, and praying and gradually starts to make better choices and find other friends who aren't all about the drama.  God gives her the strength to let go of the baggage she's been dragging around and forgive.  She reconnects with her family and maybe with a new guy who's actually right for her?

Sheila deals with a lot of disappointment and stress throughout this book; at first it feels like everyone she knows is a drama queen.  I really liked the progression of her faith and how it impacted her attitude to others.  You could see the change in her and it felt very genuine.  I found out afterwards that there were a couple previous books, one featuring Sheila and one a friend of hers.  It didn't really feel like part of a series, though, so it's not necessary to read in order but I usually like to.  I also liked the Southern feel to it.  Overall, I ended up really enjoying it.

Thanks to Moody Publishers for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

Check it out on Moody Publishers' site here:
Moody Publishers

Friday, November 2, 2012

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson

Full Disclosure  -     
        By: Dee Henderson
    I have to say I was disappointed with this book.  I love Dee's O'Malley series, but this one felt a lot different from her usual.

Paul Falcon is a high-up in the Chicago office of the FBI and in line to be the leader of the Falcon family's many enterprises when their father dies.  He loves his family and he's ready to settle down with one of his own.  He meets Ann Silver when she brings a case to him that could heat up their search for a lady shooter who's wanted for thirty murder-for-hires and who has been quiet for many years.  He's intrigued by Ann and the more he finds out about her, the more fascinated he becomes.  She's filling in as a small-town sheriff while also being an investigator who gets called in on cases all over the country that have law enforcement stumped.  She solves the tough puzzles. She's a pilot and friends with a lot of people in high places.  She's forty, content with her life and singleness, and not looking to marry.  The book focuses on their trying to catch the lady shooter and Paul trying to understand and woo Ann.  As secrets are revealed about her, will he choose to move on or stand by her?

I loved Ann's character. She's unlike anyone I've read before.  She has a very interesting personality and life, and I felt like I could relate to her in some ways.  I liked Paul but he seemed too perfect.  I can't think of a single flaw he had.  Their romance was very pragmatic, with Paul learning all he could about Ann before pursuing her; it was very practical and measured.  I believe romance can't be all about emotions, but it felt like it was hardly a factor.  There was hardly any suspense to the story, either.  Ann's dog, Midnight, was fun and added a lot of life to the book.  Fans of Dee's other books will recognize some familiar characters, and it was fun to catch up on their lives.

There wasn't very much romance or suspense in the story.  The writing also felt somewhat formal.  It was nice to see Dee's other characters again and it made me want to revisit them.  Overall, I did like the book because I found Ann fascinating and there was a slight mystery to it.  It just wasn't what I was expecting.

Giveaway of Isle of Shadows!

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