Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blessings for the Morning by Susie Larson

This book is so beautiful.  Each blessing for the morning is a two-page spread that you can open up to and soak in.  The backgrounds are beautiful pictures that set the tone and mood.  This book is peaceful.  On the left side is a Bible verse.  Then on the right is the blessing for that morning which links to the Bible verse.  I love that there is a Bible verse, that is where the heart of the blessing is.  But then the blessing on the right is so simple that a family could read and share it with younger children.  And yet, there is depth to the blessings that mature readers will soak up and enjoy.

Susie Larson did a fantastic job with the idea and production of this book..  It would make a family's morning start off beautifully.  It would also be a great gift to give to someone.

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews

From the publisher:
Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile. 
     When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
  As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

Mesu Andrews has done a lot of research for this novel and you can tell. Especially when you read the author notes at the end you realize how much work she has done. 

There are a lot of names in the book but once you get into the story the names are easy to navigate.  There was depth and dimensions to the main and secondary characters. 

This is nothing again the author, but the amount of depth, betrayal, and killing was not something I enjoyed reading.  But I think she did an awesome job at showing the difference between those who served El Shaddai, and those who served the Egyptian gods and worshiped Pharaoh.  

The last 1/3 of the book was my favorite and I wanted the book to continue so I could read more about Mehy and what happens next.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
Carmen Hart is struggling.  Her beloved aunt has dementia. The emotional wall between her husband, Ben and herself grows thicker while the miscarriages continue to add up. But on the outside it seems perfect.  She is a beloved weather girl on channel three whose husband coaches a winning football team for the local high school.

Gracie Fisher is struggling.  Her school has suspended her and her alcoholic mother wants to send her to live with a father she doesn't really know.  So she runs away, to a place she had once been wanted.

Sisters, Carmen and Gracie collide and the impact will leave you breathless.

Katie Ganshert is a writer unlike any other.  You can't categorize her books as "romance" or "comedy" or any such easy category.  Instead they are real life stories.  They draw you in and bring you to meet characters that are so real, raw, and authentic you are no longer reading a story but are invested in teh lives of these people.  They could easily be you, or I, or our friends or neighbors.

Katie Ganshert tackles hard issues like alcoholism, infertility, distance from God,unanswered prayers, and various forms of suffering that Christians and non-Christians alike deal with in life. Her writing ministers to me and leaves me challenged.  I was definitely challenged in this book. I often want life to neatly tie up but life isn't that way.

The story is told from the two view points of Gracie and Carmen, but that in no way detracts from the story.  Instead it adds depth and dimension to enrich it.  I enjoyed seeing the variety of relationships in this book.  From family love, to romantic love, to the truest love of all in God.  Katie writes about all of these in a beautiful and honest way.

As with all Katie's books, I didn't want the story to end!  I hope she will write more for these characters.

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.

Visit Katie at www.katieganshert.com

Pre-order this book at: Amazon   Barnes & Nobles and other bookstores!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life Unstuck by Pat Layton

From the publisher:
With passion and enthusiasm, Pat Layton invites women to imagine their world unstuck-a place where they feel at peace with the past, find purpose in the present, and revel in the possibilities that the future holds.

I chose to review this book because who doesn't want to "Find peace with your past, purpose in your present, passion for your future"?  I certainly have at many points in my life.  The book is in four sections, the first one introducing the reader to the idea of being unstuck.  The other three sections go through the little saying above.  In each section she deals with becoming unstuck in one area.  For example: Unstuck Memories, Unstuck Rest, Unstuck Emotions.  What I liked about that format is that even after reading through this book you might want to go back and refresh a part that is particularly difficult for you.  Or perhaps reading the whole book seems daunting to you--you could pick the chapters that you felt you needed, or a section and just read that.

Pat Layton is very candid.  I have never heard her speak or read anything else of hers, but I felt that she presented her self in a casual and honest way.  You knew who she was and what she was about.  She shares her life and ministry with you in hopes to let you live an unstuck life in Jesus.  

Through out the book she has additional resources on her website and has Unstuck Truths that are nuggets you can hold onto and try to focus on in hard times.

After reading this I am interested to read more from Pat Layton and hear her speak.

I received this book free from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

From the publisher:
The first book in a new YA historical fiction series from bestselling author Jody Hedlund.
Due to her parents' promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father's enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents' will left a second choice-if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.
Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights-the one who appears the most guilty-had not already captured her heart.
I love Jody Hedlund's writing and was excited to see that she is branching into YA historical fiction.  With all the other fiction offered for YA readers, this book is needed.  
 While it wasn't a heavily Christian book, the references to Rosemarie's faith and her dedication to really pray over matters was brought out right away in the story.  This gave a foundation for her character which is shown to be kind, compassionate, and sympathetic.  
I was surprised at the descriptions of the torture.  I didn't expect there to be so many.  However,  I think it was tastefully done, and not too descriptive.  It gave the readers an idea of how awful it really was.
The knights are brave and charismatic.  The romance that Jody Hedlund places is age appropriate.  It is enough intense and sweet to keep the balance--as well as chivalrous and clean.  
In the epilogue it leaves you with a cliff-hanger so don't read that part unless you want to read more!  I look forward to the next book in this series.
I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, March 9, 2015

You're Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth

From the publisher:

How would your life be different if you truly believed you're loved just as you are?" Holley Gerth poses this compelling question at the start of her latest book. As someone who has connected with thousands of women, Holley has seen the dangers of becoming trapped by impossible standards of beauty, achievement, and even spirituality. We believe if only we were perfect we could beat our depression, banish anxiety, and develop the relationships we long for most. Holley shares how God wants to set the hearts of women free by revealing the lies we believe and the scandalous grace and acceptance offered to us instead. When we know we're truly loved, the response is to love in return--and that changes everything.

This book has so much depth.  I felt like it was going to counseling--in the best way possible.  Holley Gerth asks deep thought provoking questions that if you really take time to think and pray about--can lead to you truly understanding more about yourself and how you react to the world around you.  I wouldn't recommend this as a "quick-light" read.  The book is very easy to read, but I think to really get the most out of it, you need to slowly digest each chapter and really process the information. 

It is also an excellent resource. Almost every chapter Holley Gerth is referencing other books and sources.  So if you are struggling with one area, or would like to know more about a topic she talks about in one chapter, you can look up these other selections.  I loved that about this book.

There were personal answering section for each chapter, sometimes at the end, sometimes throughout.  This, along with the group study questions at the end of the book allow the book to be interactive. 

Holley Gerth was through as possible in this book and I believe everyone could gain something from reading this book. I was so glad I had read it and already have people in mind to give it to.

I received this book free from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

From the publisher:
Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

I was excited when I saw this book.  The setting and premise of the book was a new one and was intriguing.  A female Robin Hood, if you will, and her band of children.  Dina Sleiman captures your attention with the plot and I believe will hold it as she takes you through this book and leaves you wanting the next book in the series.

This book has many action scenes, from the first page until the last there is action of one sort or another.  That being said, somehow the book felt a bit slow-paced.  There was  plenty of action and conversations that kept me interested however.  

I liked Merry's character.  She was able to be fearless and strong because she closed her heart, and she wrestles with opening her heart to God and romantic love because of it.  Timothy's character was a bit confusing as he seemed to always be flipping back and forth with his emotions, but I supposed that could be realistic.  It just felt that one minute he was saying he loved Merry and would take care of her, and the next he was hardened toward her.  

I really liked Allen's character and Earl Wyndemere.  They were strong and needed characters and I would like to see more about them in the books to come.

I received this book free from Bethany Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Brush With Love by Rachel Hauck

From the publisher:
Revealing the beauty in other women might be Ginger Winters’s specialty—but it will take an unexpected kind of love to help Ginger see the beauty in herself.
Ginger Winters drapes her hair over her right shoulder and adjusts the scarf around her neck to cover her scarred, withered skin. She’s had the scars since she was twelve, but she’ll never get used to the ugliness.
The fire changed Ginger’s life, but out of the pain and humiliation of her own disfigurement, one quality unexpectedly emerged: a gift for bringing out the beauty in other women. In a twelve-year ascent from top salon jobs in New York, Atlanta, and Nashville, Ginger traveled the world as personal stylist to country music sensation Tracie Blue. The success was almost enough to make her forget her own appearance.
Almost. Now that she’s opened her own salon in Rosebud after a dozen years away, the truth is staring Ginger in the face again: she’s still that girl, ugly and scarred, forever on the outside looking in. And this weekend she’ll be looking in as “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.
But when high-school crush Tom Wells shows up looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her from love once again . . . despite Tom’s best efforts. Can this professional beauty-maker manage to recognize the beauty in herself, or are some scars too deep to powder over?
After reading Rachel Hauck's lastest full-length novel "How To Catch A Prince"--and LOVING it, I wanted to read her latest novella.  I wasn't disappointed that I did.  
In a little over 100 pages Rachel Hauck takes you to a small town where there is a history for both Tom Wells and Ginger Winters.  Some of the drama in the story I did not expect but it added to show Tom's sincerity and Ginger's ability to totally give everything to God for healing.
This story is a romantic story with physical scars, but I believe that as readers read this novella they will resonate with scars of their own that make them feel unlovable and like they are on the edges of the society or groups that they want to be in.  Rachel Hauck created a story that readers will be able to relate to.
I appreciated that while there was romance, it was clear that Ginger and Tom both had to focus on God first, then he rest fell into place.  Also, I liked that it wasn't a whirlwind romance but one based on the past and present.
I received this e-book novella from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.