Monday, July 27, 2015

A Heart's Home by Colleen Coble (Journey of the Heart series book 6)

The last book of Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series will be released next month on August 4th.  Finally, we get to find out how this series will end and what will happen to Emmie Croftner and Isaac Liddle's relationship.

From the Back Cover:
Emmie's hope for a life with Isaac is overshadowed by a tragic loss at Fort Phil Kearny.
Isaac Liddle is keen to marry Emmie, and she knows she shouldn't hide her pregnancy from him any longer.  But before she can tell him her secret, a widower friend asks the impossible of Emmie: Will she honor her promise to his dead wife by marrying him to care for the orphaned baby?
With the Sioux Wars threatening outside the fort, Emmie's solemn vow threatens her happiness from within.  Will she honor a promise sure to break her heart--and Isaac's?  Or is there another way to find a home for her heart?

My Review:
This final book of the series continues in much the same way as the others.  Happiness seems within reach only to be devastated by another unforeseen conflict or trial.  The Indians are still giving them problems and actually the issues are continuing to escalate.  I think that Colleen has done a good job raping this series up.  All the loose ends are covered, even concerning what happened to the elusive Ben Croftner.  While I didn't like this series as much as her other newer books, I thought it was a good, clean read, and would recommend it.  It's great for reading shorter segments at a time since it's broken up into 6 small books that are about 100 pages or so.

***I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest opinion.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Veggie Tales Super Comics Vol. 1 and 2 written by Aaron Linne and Illustrated by Cory Jones

Do you have kids who are fans of Veggie Tales?  How about any kids that are in to comic books?  The makers of Veggie Tales have come out with some great kid's comic books filled with fun little stories that teach a moral truth. 

Each Volume contains 3 stories and there are currently 2 Volumes that have been released.  Volumes 3 and 4 will be released in October of 2015.  The pages are filled with colorful art done by Cory Jones and the stories are written by Aaron Linne. 

Volume 1:
Dave and the Giant Pickle
Lyle the Kindly Viking
Larry Boy and the Prideosaurus

Volume 2:
League of Incredible Vegetables
LarryBoy and the Reckless Ruckus
Josh and the Big Wall

So if you are looking for some good comics that have good, wholesome material in them for your kids, take a look at these new VeggieTales books. 

***I received these free books from B&H kids in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson

Melanie Dobson's newest novel is out.  Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is a novel filled with mystery surrounding the Ladenbrooke Manor.  Read below to find out more about this story and what I thought about it.

From the Back Cover:
Years ago, the body of Oliver Croft, heir of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor, was found drowned in the River Coln.  Authorities searched for answers, but no one was ever held responsible for Oliver's death...
Libby Doyle, a free spirit who spends much of her time dancing with the butterflies in Ladenbrooke's gardens, has captivated Oliver Croft's heart.  But after Oliver drowns, Libby also vanishes, and her parents, Walter and Maggie Doyle, are left to wonder what really happened between their daughter and the boy who lived next door.
Forty-five years later, after Walter's death, Libby's sister Heather returns to her family's cottage in the English countryside, in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, to sort through her parents' things.  What she uncovers is a string of shocking secrets that lead her to wonder if anything Walter and Maggie told her about her childhood was true.  As Heather sorts through the belongings left behind in the cottage, trying to separate truth from deceit, she has an uncomfortable reunion with her first love.  Together they unravel a mystery that will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

My Review:
I love a good mystery and this book definitely satisfies that craving.  Books set across the ocean in historic London are always a fun read. With their massive manors and old time customs, the stories that take place are usually an interesting adventure for those of us on this side of the ocean.  Having taken the train from London to Stratford-upon-Avon to a see a Shakespeare play back some years ago, it was fun to read a story set in that same area of England.  The story has a negative theme running through it of poor choices and the consequences that come from following fleshly desires.  Each generation seems to make the same bad choice, but lacks the courage to deal with the consequences in a healthy way and stop the cycle from happening again with their own children.  Be aware that there is the mention of premarital sex in this book; although not explicitly stated, the idea is implied.  Autism is another real life element talked about in this book.  It was an interesting inclusion into the storyline.  This is one condition I haven't read too much about in books.  The story was well written and thought out.  My only negative comment is that the story included sex before marriage, and I felt that there wasn't a strong enough statement made about what Scripture has to say about purity.

***I received this book free from Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Laugh-Out-Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls by Rob Elliott

Do you have a child that loves to doodle? Or, do you have a child that loves to get out the joke book and try to make others laugh?  Well, in Laugh out Loud Pocket Doodles for Girls, doodling and jokes are brought together in a fun little book that is perfect for taking with you anywhere.

I think I was expecting more instruction or how to when I first opened the doodle book.  Instead I found that each page has a joke on it and then a partially drawn picture.  There are instructions on each page asking the kids to complete the picture by doodling whatever subject is being talked about in the joke.  I think that as my daughter becomes better at drawing, this book will be even more fun.  The age range for this book is 9-12 year olds.

So if you're looking for a fun gift for the aspiring artist in your family, pick up a copy of Rob Elliott's Laugh Out Loud Doodles for Girls.  There is also a Laugh Out Loud Pocket Doodles for Boys book too.

***I received this free book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Heart's Promise by Colleen Coble (book 5 in the Journey of the Heart series)

Book 5 in the Journey of the Heart series by Colleen Coble releases today!  On July 7th you can pick up your copy of A Heart's Promise and continue the story of Emmie Croftner, Isaac Liddle, Sarah and Rand Campbell, Amelia and Jacob Campbell among others.  Continue reading to find out what this book is all about and what I thought about the story.

From the Back Cover:
Emmie makes a promise to her friend that, if fulfilled, could mean the end to her dreams of a future with Isaac.
Emmie Croftner let Isaac Liddle go to avoid telling him about her past.  But Isaac remains determined to win Emmie's heart and hand.  Though Emmie resolves to keep her heart in check, it hurts when she sees that another woman has set her bonnet for Isaac.
Then Emmie's dear friend extracts a costly promise: if anything happens to her in childbirth, Emmie will marry her widower and raise the baby herself.  And it seems Emmie may have to fulfill that promise.  But can she live happily without Isaac?

My Review:
I thought the novel took some turns in the story that were both predictable and surprising.  Since the characters are familiar, it's fun to continue picking up their story in these short books, but I will say that some parts are pretty predictable.  This story gets just an okay from me.  While the story is wholesome, the plot seems all too familiar in this book in dealing yet again with a former foe.  This book isn't a horrible read; it just isn't one of the spellbinding novels I'm used to reading from Colleen Coble.  There is one more book to be released for this series.  That one, A Heart's Home, will be out August 4th.  I'm looking forward to finishing this series.

***I received this free book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Hardest Peace: expecting grace in the midst of life's hard by Kara Tippetts

Are you wondering how to live while facing the suffering in this life?  What does it look like to have peace in the midst of a trial?  Is God really for me? The trials of life can throw us into pits we never knew existed, and the only way to survive is to look upward.  Kara's book, The Hardest Peace, is a beautiful example of how to look upward during painful times of our lives.  Take the time to checkout this book.  It a book that should be on everyone's bookshelves.

From the Back Cover:
Kara Tippetts knows the ordinary days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow... and the devastating reality of stage IV cancer.

In The Hardest Peace, Kara doesn't offer answers for when living is hard, but rather she asks us to join her in moving away from fear and control and toward peace and grace.  Most of all, she draws us back to the God who is with us in the mundane and the suffering, and who shapes even our unmet expectations and pain into beauty.

My Review:
I wondered if I would be able to get through this book.  If it would be too hard for me to read reliving the devastating effects of cancer upon someone you love.  But Kara made this book more about Jesus and less about herself.  It was a beautiful story told in a way that brought God glory.  It challenged me to put many things into perspective throughout my life.  And I know I have a lot to think through as I go through my own hard situation with my mother (diagnosed with CBGD--a neurological disease) and in remembering my father-in-law (who passed from cancer last year) and my younger brother (killed in a car accident at age 20).   Life has been hard and this book was such an encouragement to read.  This book has definitely become one of my favorites right along with Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  Beautiful stories both born out of grief.  I loved the following passage:

"Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.  Proverbs 1:33 We talked through what this verse really means.  When we listen--really listen--to the Lord, looking Him straight in the face, He removes the dread.  It does not say He removes the disaster.  But the dread of disaster.  ...The dread and fear are what so often steal our peace and leave us on edges of our moments exhausted.  We meet the scary of life and forget to turn to God and listen and know His peace.  We scramble to control, fix, and protect from hard.  The imagined fears and worries often break us more than reality." (pg. 129-130)

If you are struggling through suffering personally or with someone close to you, pick up this book and be encouraged that God is with you.

About the Author:
Kara Tippets was married to her husband, Jason.  Together they were raising four beautiful children while church planting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Kara has gone home to be with the Lord.  You can find her past writings on her blog

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography

Do you love photography?  Is outdoor photography one of your hobbies?  Then here is a fun new book you need to check out!  John Shaw has come along way from his first published book, The Nature Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques.  Now revised, his original field guide book is up to date for the world of digital photography.  Things sure have changed in the last 30 years.

From the Back Cover:
For over four decades, John Shaw's authentic voice and trusted advice has helped photographers achieve impressive shots in the great outdoors.  In his first-ever book on digital photography, Shaw provides in-depth advice on everything form equipment and lenses to thorough coverage of digital topics including how to use the histogram.  In addition, he offers inspirational and frank insight that goes far beyond the nuts and bolts of photography, explaining that successful photos come from having a vision, practicing, and then acquiring the equipment needed to accomplish the intention.  Easily digestible and useful for every type of photographer, and complete with more than 250 jaw-dropping images, John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography is the one book you'll need to beautifully capture the world around you.

My Review:
Let me start by saying the pictures in this book are just beautiful!  The book covers the following aspects of photography: Gear, Getting Started, Lenses, Composition, and Close-ups.  Make sure to grab your highlighter and your camera when you are ready to "dive-in" to this book.  There is a lot of practical advice for helping you to be a better photographer.  The information is pretty detailed and you'll want your camera handy to adjust all of your own settings.  This book has me excited about being a better photographer!  I'm looking forward to putting all these great techniques into practice the next time I get out and shoot some digital film.

***I received this book free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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