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2.25.2012

Book Review: His Princess--Love Letters from Your King

Do you need a reminder of who you are in God’s eyes? Each page of His Princess: Love Letters from Your King, contains a scripture verse with a promise on each page. Then author Sheri Rose Shepherd takes the concept from that verse and writes it in a letter format as if God had written a love letter to the reader.

Here is an example:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled.” John 14:27

“I know how hard it is for you to feel content in your home when you’re always wanting one more thing to make it the perfect place. I long to give you beautiful things that turn a house into the haven of a home; but My princess, you must first learn to let Me build in you a place of peace and contentment. Do your best to rest in Me and wait for Me, and then I will give you what I know will benefit you the most. I want you to make your home a place that builds relationships and reflects who you are in Me. Remember that your loved ones need you more than any material thing. So decorate your home with joy, fill it with timeless memories, and create a safe place to grow up in Me. Love, Your King and your Resting Place” p. 57

The book gives beautiful reminders to the reader. It has beautiful soft floral pictures on the pages and a padded hard cover. It’s a little pocket-sized book.

My one concern about the book is that whenever we attempt to take scripture and expand it into a letter from God, we add the author’s own voice. Although there’s nothing wrong in the example I shared above, it’s risky to write what we believe God would say. We already have his Word, so readers must remember that while the letters in the book contain scriptural principles, they are not scripture.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Book Review: His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not

I'm so happy to be able to tell you about this book. One of my dear friends, Cynthia Ruchti, is one of the four authors, and it's such a well-done book.

Book Review of His Grace is Sufficient…Decaf is Not
His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not, contains 100 uplifting stories with lessons straight from real life. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and full of inspiration. This is a devotional book in that it has a scripture at the top of each chapter, a biblical application/ lesson, and a prayer at the end. But it’s also an inspiring little gift book. It’s sweet for a gift for a friend who needs uplifting or a gift for a mom or sister. The great thing is that the stories cross generational boundaries and have broad appeal.

The book is hardcover and just a little bigger than pocket size. I love that it fits right in my purse. It also comes in a Kindle version.

I had the privilege of writing an endorsement for the front of this book. Here’s what I wrote:

This collection of daily readings packs a jolt of grace that reminds the reader that God doesn’t skimp when he fills our cups to running over. The authors are transparent about their own need for God’s abundant, never-decaffeinated grace, and their stories invite others to sip the same full loaded delight.
The other thing I love about this book is that the publisher gives a portion of the proceeds from the book to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and my mom is an ovarian cancer survivor.

2.24.2012

Book Review - The Consummate Traitor


Book Review The Consummate Traitor 
Author: Bonnie Toews

WWII meets action thriller, meets historical fiction, meets spy mystery in The Consummate Traitor by Bonnie Toews. Hitler, the Americans, and all of Europe raced to develop the first atomic bomb, while WWII raged on. In the midst of that conflict, a talented young pianist of British nobility finds herself involved in the war in a most unusual way. When Lady Grace’s parents die in a London bombing, she joins journalist Lee Talbot as a spy. Using Lady Grace’s piano music to transmit coded messages to British covert missions in Nazi-held territory, both women soon wind up in grave danger. Together, they experience the horrors of war, the dreadful reality of what Hitler did to the Jews, and the nightmare of betrayal.

Print version
In the same way The Help portrayed history of the civil rights movement through a fictional story, this book portrays the history of WWII through fiction. Although it’s fiction, it’s well researched and inspired by real stories. This fast-paced story draws the reader in and it held my interest well. There were a few unexpected twists and turns and true to reality, everything didn’t wrap up in neat little packages.

This is a gritty story. Toews doesn’t tiptoe around and make war seem pretty. This is a clean book from a moral standpoint in how the author handled certain situations. I wouldn’t label this as a Christian book, as there are no overt faith lessons in it, but there are life lessons to be learned from the characters.

This book actually surprised me because it’s published by the author, not a royalty publisher, and it’s done better than most self-published books. I found some instances of “head hopping” which is where the perspective shifts from one character’s point of view to another’s from one paragraph to the next. This can be confusing for the reader because we’re able to see inside the head of too many characters at one time. I asked the author about this and she was so gracious about my critique. This is her first work of fiction and she’s already working on improving some of these issues in the next book.

The great news is that the story is compelling enough that most readers can get past the point of view problems and really enjoy the book. That says a lot about the story.

There were a few places in the story where something happens abruptly, and from a reader’s perspective, it needed more development. In one case, characters fell in love and progressed to talking about marriage within several paragraphs. The relationship hadn’t really developed at all prior to that. And I won’t give a spoiler, but there is one revelation at the end that seemed abrupt and completely unnecessary for the story.

I say this all because a few changes would easily take this book from good to great. I’d love to see more books by this author done with a royalty publisher with the type of editing such a publisher would offer. I think this author has great potential, and I’m a tough critic. She knows how to write good dialogue and how to take the reader along rather than telling the reader about a scene.

Bonnie Toews approached me about reviewing the book and provided me with a free Kindle copy of the book. I was not obligated to give a favorable review.

2.14.2012

Valentine's Day is More a State of Mind Than a Holiday

Phil and I have been married for 22 years and it took us a few years to figure out that certain holidays were more stressful than they were enjoyable. Valentine's Day used to be one of those. We learned that expectations could cause a lot of conflict, thus overruling the whole point of the holiday. It became nothing more than him trying to figure out what I wanted, and me expecting him to just know what I wanted.

What we learned from too many years of expectations and let-downs is that gift-giving out of obligation dictated by the calendar isn't what has kept us together. What has held us together is that my husband treats me with the same genuine love every day of the year. Receiving his kindness and thoughtfulness 364 days of the year is far more valuable than a bouquet or a box of chocolates. Once in a while, we exchange cards, but if we don't, we're both okay with that.

In the end, the checkbook comes out a lot healthier too.

2.13.2012

Free Kindle & Nook Books: Have a New Husband by Friday and more

Free Kindle Books:
Have a New Husband by Friday: How to Change His Attitude, Behavior & Communication in 5 Days by Kevin Leman (Revell)
Into the Free: A Novel by Julie Cantree (David C. Cook)
The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry bridges (NavPress)

The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer Allee (Abingdon Press)
 From Ashes to Honor by Loree Lough (Abingdon Press)


 
Nook Version:

Book Review: The Shadow of Your Smile

I just saw the interview with Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, the couple whose real life story is portrayed in the number one movie of this past weekend, The Vow. Krickitt lost her memory of her marriage to Kim in a car accident, but he started the relationship from scratch, dating her and patiently waiting while she fell in love with him all over again. Krickitt never regained her memory of their early years together, but they've built a solid marriage since the accident and even had a second wedding to renew the vows she didn't remember. The story they told in their book, The Vow, is now made into a movie.

Recently, I read a copy of Susan Warren's The Shadow of Your Smile, a fictional tale of another couple who experienced the devastation of amnesia. Here's my review:

Book Review: The Shadow of Your Smile

What would it be like if you couldn’t remember 25 years of your life? Would you consider it a fresh start, or would you fight to get your memory back? When Noelle gets a nasty knock on the head, she and her husband Eli face these questions. She can’t remember the horrible tragedy their family went through, but she also can’t remember the good times. When she’s released from the hospital to the care of her husband, Noelle feels like she’s entrusted in the care of a stranger.

In The Shadow of Your Smile, Susan May Warren has crafted an intricate tale of edge of your seat danger, gut wrenching conflict, and heartwarming relationships. I enjoyed the way she crafts her plot and characters and draws the reader into the story. Plot details will keep the reader engaged right to the end of the book. The story takes place in mostly fictional towns along the north shore of Lake Superior, one of my favorite places in the world!

I put myself in the shoes of Noelle wondering how I would react if I couldn’t remember my husband or children. Although it’s a terrifying thought, Noelle felt a sense of the familiar, even in the events she couldn’t remember.

This is the story of a couple who has drifted apart, long before the incident that took her memory. And it’s a story with many interwoven details. Eli and Noelle aren’t the only ones with a broken relationship. Eli’s emotional connection to Lee, the widow of his best friend (who happens to be Noelle’s best girlfriend), and the time he spends with her threatens to split this couple and destroy their children and their friends in the process.

The themes running through this novel align with real people and real relationships. The situations are emotionally charged, and the responses of the characters are raw and not sugar-coated with neatly wrapped outcomes. Warren does a great job of tying up loose ends of the story without making the package too perfect. I smell a sequel. 

About the Author
Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Photo of the Week- White as Snow

"Come now, let us settle the matter,”
   says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet,
   they shall be as w
hite as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
   they shall be like wool."
Isaiah 1:18

2.02.2012

Free Kindle and Nook Books - February 2

Kindle Version:
The Someday List (Jubilant Soul Series #1) by Stacy Hawkins Adams (Revell)
Contingency (Covenant of Trust) by Paula Wiseman (published independently by a company called Mindstir Media)
The Good Life by Charles Colson and Harold Fickett (Barna Books)
NOOK Version:
Books are free at the time of the blog post. They may be regular price when you view this message, so check the price before checkout.

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