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Showing posts from June, 2018

Darius the Great is Not Okay (First Impression Review)

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First Impression Reviews are written after reading the initial ARC chapters of a book. They are not whole-book, full-story reviews. This is a fun, absorbing excerpt with witty dialogue and vivid imagery. I don’t read a lot of YA, but this one drew me in quickly. I could picture the opening scene in The Tea Haven and quite possibly even snuck a sip of the Orange Blossom Awesome. I got a good feel for who Darius is and felt his frustration and angst. I’m not crazy about the cover art, but the story intrigues me enough to read more! I received an ARC excerpt from BOOKishFIRST.

The House at Saltwater Point - Review

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Colleen Coble is one of my go-to authors, so I didn’t waste anytime diving into an ARC of her newest book,  The House at Saltwater Point —the second book in her  Lavender Tides  series. This book fares well as a standalone, but reading the first in the series  (The View from Rainshadow Bay)  gives a bit of background and familial ties. (Grayson is related to Shauna, the main character in the first book.) I appreciate Ms. Coble’s writing style, infusing her stories with suspense, mystery, romance, and spirituality. Her characters are well crafted and her scenes are vivid. I do have to mention that it took me a little while to fully connect with Ellie, even though I immediately sympathized with her search for her sister.   Great pacing and themes. I look forward to more in this series. 4 Stars Cover : Love Title : Love Pages : 352 Series : Lavender Tides Book 2 Publisher:  Thomas Nelson First Line : Two construction workers carried in the orange ladder spla

The Red Ledger Reborn (First Impression Review)

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First Impression Reviews are written after reading the initial ARC chapters of a book. They are not whole-book, full-story reviews.   I can’t say this excerpt drew me in. I suppose the given scene takes place somewhere other than the beginning of the story, which could be why I didn’t connect. It’s like turning the TV on in the middle of a movie and wondering who’s who, and what’s going on. These five pages didn’t give me a sense of high and I wasn’t pulled into the setting. I’m not a huge suspense/thriller fan, so that may explain some of my disinterest; but even so, the characters didn’t pique my interest at all. I received an ARC excerpt from BOOKishFIRST. 

The Painted Art Journal - Review

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This stimulating book is a useful tool for creative souls who wish to construct a visual narrative of their lives. Jeanne Oliver, the author, provides 24 guided projects to inspire you to create your own unique journal of art missions that express the real you in a way nobody else can. I’m not even a fraction as crafty as the author, but she is detailed and expressive, making the journey feel doable. The book is filled with photographs, so the visuals help tremendously, as many artists respond to visual instruction. Overall, I’m pleased with  The Painted Art Journal .  Following its direction to create a personal art journal might not be for everyone, such as those who prefer clean lines and conventional pages. But for those quirky souls who see the world differently, for those who see creative uses for mostly overlooked, everyday items, for those who enjoy making something from very little—this book contains an inspirational treasure trove. 4 Stars Cover: Like

Writing Without Rules - Review

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When I first began researching what it takes to become an author I became obsessed with the dos and don’ts of writing. It seemed the more I learned, the more it stunted me. I found myself experiencing writer’s block and self-doubt, and I wondered if I was wasting my time. Needless to say, I wasn’t productive. Then I realized I’d never had trouble writing before, I had never experienced writer’s block and never doubted my abilities until I sought out the “rules” of novel writing. Once I set the rules aside, I got my mojo back. All the classes, conferences, etc., were enjoyable, but it put too much “stuff” in my head. I wish I’d read this book long ago, for Jeff Somers’  Writing Without Rules  pretty much suggests to do just that.’ Put the rules aside. Plus, he’s highly entertaining. He inspires, empowers, and lessons the burden of strict guidelines, encouraging you to simply write the story that lives within you. I like his straightforward approach, his wonderful unconventi

A Breath of Hope - Review

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I believe this is the first book I’ve read by Lauraine Snelling. I enjoyed her writing style and delved into the story rather quickly. The pacing slowed quite a bit after the first third or half of the book, but the story still kept my interest. I love the spiritual foundation of this story, and enjoyed the characters (most of them, anyway) but I wasn’t fully engrossed, like I’d hoped. Still, I liked for Nilda and cared how the story ended. Although  A Breath of Hope  didn’t fully capture me, I still hope to read more in this series and more by this author. 3 Stars Cover : Like Title : Love Pages : 336 Series : Under Northern Skies Book 2 Publisher:  Bethany House First Line : Nilda Carlson stared at the money in her hand. I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House.

The Kindness Challenge - Review

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Whether marriage, friendship, or acquaintanceship, we all have relationships we can improve.  The Kindness Challenge  provides practical tasks we can implement to strengthen any relationship. It’s so easy to say, “be kind,” but when we keep this in the forefront of our minds, and purposely do kind deeds, think kind thoughts, compliment and praise others, we create a habit. Little deeds can reap great rewards, and it certainly feels good to build others up. You can’t control others’ actions—but you can (and should) control what comes out of your heart, mind, and mouth. (Words hurt.) I love this challenge. It’s very inspiring, backed up by research, and has a spiritual foundation. This book helps you be a better you. 4 Stars Cover : Like Title : Love Pages : 224 Publisher:  Waterbrook

The Myth of Perpetual Summer

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A 2018 Favorite! I love everything about this book—the characters, the themes, the setting, the time period, the authors, and the ending. A definitive favorite of 2018! In 2013, I read Susan Crandall’s breakout novel,  Whistling Past the Graveyard,  and fell in love with her brilliant storytelling. I remember being in awe of her ability to create such rich characters that seep into your heart and mind, and refuse to leave. A part of young Starla, its coming-of-age protagonist, still lives with me. In  The Myth of Perpetual Summer , which takes place during the same Civil Rights era and on through the 70s, Tallulah James is just as endearing and memorable, if not more so. Although my childhood circumstances weren’t the same as “Lullie’s,” they were turbulent. This enabled me to fully sympathize and empathize with her. I feel as if I’ve walked in her shoes and made many of the same choices she made—missteps, as well as successes.  Having a Manic-Depressive (Bi-Polar)

The Faith of Dolly Parton - Review

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I enjoy non-fiction stories that are infused with faith and spirituality. Dolly Parton’s faith is evident in her down-to-earth personality, humble upbringing, and heart-touching, country songwriting. This book has a nostalgic feel to it, which I love. Written by Dudley Delffs, it’s a look into Dolly’s life through a fan’s eyes, as he blends the story with his own life’s experiences. Delffs showcases elements of faith revealed through Dolly’s life that I found stirring and inspiring.  It was nice to sink into this book without reading the mundane factoids and accomplishments that many biography-type books share. The spiritual aspect is what makes this book/audiobook relatable and a keeper.   Cover : Like Title : Like Publisher : Zondervan Pages : 240 First Line (chapter one) : I’ll never forget the first time I saw Dolly Parton. I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook

The Solace of Water - Review

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Though  The Solace of Water  takes place during the 1950s, the messages are timely. The author infused these women’s stories with cultural nuances, heartrending trauma, and other memorable touches. The story deals delicately with race, secrets, tragedies, healing, grace, and forgiveness. Emma and Delilah are diverse characters and so interesting, with unique dilemmas, yet similar needs of forgiveness. Their friendship is stirring and their journey to healing brought me to tears.  If you want a timely, touching, and memorable read that deals with cultural, social, and spiritual issues look no further. Get your tissues ready, though. It’s sure to prick your heart more than a time or two. 4 Stars Cover : Like Title : Love Publisher : Thomas Nelson Pages : 368 First Line : My skin was the same color as the soil. I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook and NetGalley.

Tiffany Blues (First Impression Review)

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First Impression Reviews are written after reading the initial ARC chapters of a book. They are not whole-book, full-story reviews. The Author’s Note alone is fascinating! I’m intrigued by how the author uses the history of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s home (of the famous Tiffany & Co.) on Long Island’s coast—Laurelton Hall—as a solid foundation for this story. In the rest of the first-look, the prologue and opening three chapters, it is made evident that the author is a lover of art. Her descriptions are point-on, and create vivid visuals of the art colony and the 1920s backdrop. I want to learn more about Jenny Bell (the main character) and the mystery of Laurelton Hall’s demise. I received an ARC excerpt from BOOKishFIRST.

A Rebel Heart - Review

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I love it when I get my hands on a new series, because I know I’m about to be introduced to new characters, settings, and stories. With  A Rebel Heart , I’m also introduced to a new-to-me author. (At least, I don’t  think  I’ve read anything by Beth White before.)  For some reason, I’m attracted to stories that deal with the tragedies of war—perhaps because I love being reminded of people’s resiliency, their passions, strengths, and tenacity, during times of, what feels like, total devastation. It’s when we’re at our lowest, when we feel that inner desperation, that our character is tested and strengthened. It’s then when we lean heaviest on our faith. Taking place during the Reconstruction Era of the Civil War, this story displays the economic and societal destruction. I was heavily saturated in this time period, and sank into the characters and their dilemmas. Selah and Levi are easy to sympathize and empathize with, and their attraction and resistance to each other is b

Archaeology Study Bible - Review

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This ESV  Archaeology Study Bible  is filled with great study tools, such as notes of cultural context, color maps, clarifying text, and editorial insights. I love the Biblical history it provides. It holds a wealth of historical information. E.g. Psalm 52:8 “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God…” Though the tree is only mentioned briefly in this verse, the provided notes showcase its symbolism and deep significance of that time.  E.g. In 1 Samuel, the notes explain how and why David fled from Saul, clarifying the size of his army, and a map of the area at that time. E.g. Psalms and Proverbs probably have the most significant and interesting notes (in my opinion.) The study sections provide interesting material concerning musical instruments, reconstruction photos of ancient scales, photos of a traditional wineskin, and surviving examples of wisdom literature from Egypt. Even after reading only a small portion of this Hardback Bible, I’ve learned so

The Love Letter - Review

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Oh how I love dual time-period stories—when the past connects to present day—two stories in one!  The Love Letter transitions between the two time-periods seamlessly. I can’t even choose which story I enjoy best. They are so well balanced, and I cared deeply for each of the main characters. Rachel Hauck never disappoints! Hamilton and Esther, the main characters during the Revolutionary War era) are so interesting, as is their unconventional romance. Their story has a deep, yet innocent love, with numerous, weighty obstacles. Jesse and Chloe, from present day Hollywood, are so believable. I love how their relationship connects to the story of Hamilton and Esther. They are so easy to sympathize with, and I rooted for them to overcome their pasts. The Love Letter is an enjoyable love story with a strong element of faith and a substantial ending. Beautiful fiction. 4.5 Stars Cover : Love Title : Love Pages : 352 Publisher:  Thomas Nelson First Line : Y

Leave No Trace (First Impression Review)

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First Impression Reviews are written after reading the initial ARC chapters of a book. They are not whole-book, full-story reviews. Wow. Thrillers and Suspense stories aren’t usually something I read, but the first chapter certainly captured my attention. I wanted more. The pacing is superb, and created strong mental images in my head. The sneak peek has a similar feel to the scene in Silence of the Lambs, where Clarice Starling attempts to garner information from Hannibal Lector. Great storytelling. A definite page-turner.  I received an excerpt from BOOKishFIRST. I was not required to write a favorable review.

Just Let Go - Review

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Don’t you just love it when you can soak in the small town setting of a book you’re reading? I enjoyed sinking into the community of Harbor Pointe, and want to visit the Michigan town outside the pages of a book. Quinn and Grady are interesting characters. I easily related to Quinn (owner of a flower shop) and sympathized with her heart-rending past. Grady (Olympic skier) has noticeable flaws, and shows significant growth as the story moves forward. They both made my heart melt. Just Let Go  is an inspirational, opposites attract story, with small-town charm, and injured souls in need of healing. 5 Stars Cover:  Love Title:  Love Publisher:  Tyndale House  Pages:  416 First Lines:  He shouldn’t be here. A diner in some little tourist town in Michigan was no place for Grady Benson, but here he was. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

The Painted Art Journal (First Impression Review)

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First Impression Reviews are written after reading the initial ARC chapters/excerpts of a book. They are not whole-book, full-story reviews. I’m impressed! I really didn’t expect to find this book so inspiring. (I love it when a book surprises me.) I’m a very creative soul with painting and drawing way out of my wheelhouse. YET, I found this book stirring and original! We each have our own unique story, and there are so many ways to share it—such as through an art journal. The storyboard ideas are highly motivating, and make me want to start working on my art journal right now. I received an ARC excerpt from BOOKishFIRST. I was not required to write a favorable review.