Saturday, June 29, 2013

You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

You Don't Know Me is the sixth book in the Deep Haven Series by Susan May Warren.  I was excited to read another book by Susan May Warren since my review of her newest book Take a Chance on Me.  And I have to say, that I loved this book just as much!  Such a great story that had me rooting for the main character, Deidre.  Deidre O'Reilly has a little bit of a wild side to her.  But this wild side has landed her into the Witness Security Program at the young age of 18 because she testified against a dangerous individual that has vowed to kill her.  Deidre has to leave everything behind and start over in Deep Haven, Minnesota.  On the one hand it is a new chance on life, but on the other, she will have to give up everything including her family.

I love that this book is based off of a real conversation that Susan had with a fellow passenger on an airplane.  I can't imagine telling my daughter goodbye at the age of 21 (in the real life conversation) to not have contact with her possibly forever.  This story was great as it explored the what-if's when lies and secrets are hidden in relationships.  There are great consequences to hiding things from the ones we love.  We think we are protecting others...but are we really just protecting ourselves?  Even though I haven't read the rest of the Deep Haven series, I was able to sit down and read book 6.  Having read the first book in the Christiansen Family series, which also takes place in Deep Haven, it was cool to read about some of the main characters from that book.  I would highly recommend picking up this book.  The story was mesmerizing and kept me engaged from cover to cover!


***I checked this book out from my local library to read for the Summer Reading Program by Tyndale House. 

Horse Dreams by Dandi Daley Mackall

Dandi Daley Mackall has a Horse Series for kids ages 6-10 years old called Backyard Horses.  The first book in the series is Horse Dreams
Little Ellie James' only wish is to have a horse of her own.  She daydreams about the day when her beautiful Black Stallion will come galloping up to meet her and she can enter the Hamilton Royal Horse Show and of course, win.  But all this daydreaming during school is getting her into trouble.  Miss Hernandez, Ellie's fourth grade teacher is concerned one day when Ellie shouts out in class that she has seen a real horse outside the classroom window.  But, because Ellie is known for her daydreaming no one believes her and the teacher has sent a note home to her parents.   When Ellie's mother comes home claiming she lost a horse, Ellie confirms it is the horse she saw outside of school.  She and her mom are on a mission to find this missing horse before the animal control people find the horse first.

I thought this first book was a good, clean story, but I wouldn't say that it was anything spectacular.  I would probably check it out from my local library, but it wouldn't be a keeper on my bookshelf.  The story has some good points that I liked.  Ellie's imaginary horse is gorgeous, perfect and everything Ellie ever hoped for in a show horse.  But the horse that shows up outside of school is anything but beautiful. This horse is skinny and not anything that would deserve a second look.  Ellie learns to look past the outside and to see the beauty of the animal.  Ellie begins to think that maybe God has heard her prayer for a horse...not the one in her imagination but one that is suited just for her.
I have yet to read the rest of the series to form my final opinion.  There are 4 other books in this series: Cowboy Colt (book 2), Chasing Dream (book 3), and Night Mare (book 4).  So come back to find out what I think of the rest of the series.

***I checked this book out from my local library to read for the Summer Reading Program by Tyndale House. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

TJ and the Time Stumblers: Ho-Ho-Nooo! (book 4) by Bill Myers

TJ and the Time Stumblers are at it again in book 4  Ho-Ho-Nooo!   With Christmas right around the corner, TJ is determined to get her dad something nice while out-doing her sister Violet's gift for her dad.  Soon TJ lands a job (with Tuna and Herby's assistance) to earn some extra money, but will TJ learn that Christmas is not about material things that money can buy? Or will money become her focus?


It's easy to get caught up in the commercialism that the world portrays as Christmas.  I thought this book did a good job in showing that Christmas is not about getting all the things we want.  I wish the author would of focused more on the fact that Christmas is about Christ, but that seemed to play second fiddle to it being more about spending time with family and friends.  Like the other books in the series, they each have a good theme or moral to the stories, but overall, this series hasn't been my favorite.

***I checked this book out from my local library to read for the Summer Reading Program by Tyndale House. 

TJ and the Time Stumblers: OOPS! (book 3) by Bill Myers

The story continues for TJ and the Time Stumblers in OOPS! the third book in Bill Myers series for kids ages 8 and up.  This time TJ  learns how important it is to guard your thinking.  It's easy to think well of others when they are nice, but no so easy when they are mean.  Herby and Tuna are always wanting to help and decide that the Thought Broadcaster Pen would help things out a bit.  Of course, their 23rd century devices usually start acting up and create quite a bit of chaos.  When their pen acts up and everyone's thoughts are broadcasted throughout the lunch room, people become a little bit uncomfortable....as you can imagine.  Would you want others hearing everything you were thinking?  TJ's mom was a great lady, who never said anything bad about anyone.  Her secret was this--"'She said the key isn't what you say--it's what you think.  Whenever somebody got on her nerves, she tried to think something nice about them.'" (pg. 84)

Like the other books in the series, I thought it was good in that the book taught another great message: what you think comes out your mouth.  If you can't say anything nice, you have to change how you are thinking.  It's hard to say and think something nice about others when they are mean, rude and annoying.  But seeing everyone as someone that God created, will help you to treat them differently.
This book, like book #2, also had more "bleeps" in it.  When the Thought Broadcasting pen landed on the mean bully at school, his thoughts were "bleeps" and lots of them (pg. 101).  I really don't think this is needed to make the story and it certainly doesn't add anything to it.  Swearing shouldn't be seen as normal or expected of the bad kid at school.   Wish this could of been left out.
Another thing about this book is that it is kind of becoming predictable.  The books seem to follow the same pattern each time: Time stumblers create problems, TJ messes up and then problems somehow resolve at the end.  Overall, there is a good moral to the story, but I wouldn't say it is my favorite series.

***I checked this book out from my local library to read for the Summer Reading Program by Tyndale House. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

TJ and the Time Stumblers: AAAARGH!!! (book 2) by BIll Myers

I just finished Bill Myers' second book in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series.  This is a series for kids ages 8 and up.  You can read about the first book and see a book trailer about the series here.

This book opens with 2 dozen pirates suddenly in TJ's room thanks to Herby and Tuna, the time travelers.  Those two aren't the brightest students in their 23rd century class.  Their equipment is frequently failing and causing constant problems for TJ....hence the pirates in her bedroom.  When an important book report is due, Herby and Tuna decide to help, but their help would actually be called cheating.  TJ has to make an important decision to take the easy way or the hard way.

This book presented some problems for me.  There were two incidences that I really didn't feel were appropriate.  First, in the beginning of the book, their was a scene with the pirates that I really didn't like.  After TJ stomped on the pirate's foot the following was said in the book,
     "'ARGH!' he shouted, letting her go and jumping up and down on his other foot (which unfortunately, was not there).  So, having only a peg for a foot, he did a lot more ker-plop-ing onto the ground than jumping.  And with all the ker-plop-ing came a lot more 'ARGH! -ings followed by a ton of 'Bleep-bleep-bleep, bleep-bleep-bleep'-ings (which is all pirates are allowed to scream in a PG rated book)." (page 8)
I really think that it is unnecessary for kids 8 and up to read about a pirate cursing in a Christian book.  Later on the same page you read, "'ARGH,' the pirate argh-ed. (He would have thrown in a few bleeps of his own but figured his mother might be reading this book.)  Cursing is not cool and I don't want it portrayed as such. 
The second incident was much later in the book when Herby and Tuna are showing TJ what will happen in the future should she decide to cheat.  It shows her smoking.  I guess I really don't want my eight year old reading about cursing or smoking in a Christian series.  They get enough of seeing that in the world and don't need to be reading about it too.
Other than those two incidences, the over all theme in the book is good.  The moral this book is focusing on is being truthful.  TJ is tempted to take the easy way out and cheat,  but Herby and Tuna use their holograph machine to show TJ what will happen in her life because of that one decision.  I like that the story shows that one choice can affect your life.
So, all that being said, other than those two incidences in the book, I liked the main message it was communicated.  I would give this book 3 stars.

***I checked this book out from my local library to read for the Summer Reading Program by Tyndale House. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TJ and the Time Stumblers: New Kid Catastrophes (book 1) by Bill Myers

TJ and the Time Stumblers is a series written by Bill Myers and published by Tyndale House Publishers.  The first book came out in 2011 and there are now a total of 6 books.  This series is for ages 8 and up.

TJ, short for Thelma Jean, is your average teen.  She has just moved from Missouri to Malibu, California.  Quite a change at a very unstable time in a young person's life.  TJ's mom has passed away recently so it is just her dad and two sisters living in the house.  Unknown to TJ, she is a class project for two boys from the 23rd century who have time traveled to observe her.  When Herby and Tuna's cloaking device fails to keep them invisible, TJ finds them in her house and demands to know who they are and what they are doing there!  The time travelers are eager to help her out with her problems, but actually end of making more of a mess for her.  Unfortunately, the time travelers can't go back to their time because they are out of fuel and getting fuel is going to be hard here in the 21st century.  Is this TJ's new life?  Now that the cloaking device is working again, TJ can still see them, but no one else can.  And it appears to others that she is talking to no one making her appear a little nuts.  How will her teen image survive this?!

Below you can watch Tyndale House Publisher's book trailer about the series.



I thought the series was interesting for this age group.  There is lots of adventure....or should I say mishaps.  The two time travelers create a lot of exasperating scenes thinking they are helping.  TJ does have to learn about having patience when it comes to Herby and Tuna.  In this book, TJ learns what really matters when it comes to judging others.  It's easy to look at the outward appearance, but TJ learns that what is inside is what really matters.  A great truth for kids this age to think about and learn.   I would give this book 3 1/2 stars.

**I checked this book out from my local library to read for the Summer Reading Program by Tyndale House Publishers.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Barefoot Summer is the first book in the Chapel Springs Series by Denise Hunter.  This was my first book to read by this author and I read her book in a day.  Loved it!  Below you'll find the book's description from the back cover, my review and a link to the author's website. 

Back Cover:
Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.
In the years since her twin brother’s drowning, Madison McKinley has struggled to put it behind her. Despite the support of her close-knit family and her gratifying job as a veterinarian in their riverside town, the loss still haunts her.
To find closure, Madison sets out to fulfill her brother’s dream of winning the town’s annual regatta. But first she has to learn to sail, and fast.
Beckett O’Reilly knows Madison is out of his league, but someone neglected to tell his heart. Now she needs his help—and he’ll give it, because he owes her far more than she’ll ever know.
Madison will do anything—even work with the infamous Beckett O’Reilly—to reach her goal. And as much as she’d like to deny it, the chemistry between them is electrifying. As summer wanes, her feelings for him grow and a fledgling faith takes root in her heart.
But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their new love. Can their romance survive summer’s challenges? And will achieving her brother’s dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

My Review:
Like I said at the beginning...I read this book in one day.  Denise Hunter did a fabulous job with this novel.  Have you ever had a tragedy in your life so difficult that you thought it would be impossible to ever move past it?  One of the main characters in this book, Madison, has faced the death of her twin brother.  Unfortunately, I can understand this character since my own brother was killed in an auto accident 13 years ago.  He was only 20 yrs. old at the time....two years younger than me.  Life can be incredibly hard and cruel at times and there is no way to cope or deal with it unless you have Christ in your life.  Madison has to work through this in her life.  Her tactics of filling her life with everything but God are not working.
Then Beckett comes onto the scene and things get a little uncomfortable for Madison.  She blames him for her sister's disappearance and has let him have a piece of her mind only to find out that she has to work with him to reach the goal she's set for herself.  But Beckett has changed since high school and Madison is in for quite a surprise.
This book will take you on a ride from start to finish.  So be ready to not want to put it down!  The story line was great and moved well throughout the book.  I really appreciated this paragraph in chapter 32 where Madison is getting some advice from her mother.

"'You've always been afraid of feeling, Madison.  Sometimes those negative feelings are so strong, they're overwhelming, and its easier just not to deal with them.  But death is part of life.  Not my favorite part, not by a long shot.  But God does not owe us ninety years on this earth.  Life is a gift, however long it lasts.  It's God's to give and take away as He sees fit.  We go through life thinking we're entitled to our ninety, but we're not entitled to anything.  All we can do is trust that He knows what He's doing.  That He has a plan for all of us, and that no pain He allows in our life will go unused.  I suppose realizing that has given me a good measure of peace.'"

Wanting a good book to read during this summer?  Pick up Barefoot Summer.  It's a keeper!

About the Author:
You can read more about the author and other books she has written by clicking here to view her website.

**I received this book free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Red Dawn Rising by Sue Duffy and Free Kindle Dowload

Welcome to the blog tour for Red Dawn Rising by Sue Duffy.  This is book 2 in her Red Returning Series.   You can read my review about book 1 here.

In this second book of the series, the mystery continues as to who is plotting evil against the United States.  In the first book, some of the conspirators were found out, but the mastermind behind it all was still out there somewhere, roaming freely and able to strike whenever he chose.  Besides the main characters of Liesl Bower, her father, Cade, Ian, Ava, Ben Haffner and Evgeny Kozlov, we are also introduced to a two new characters that have their own troubling pasts, Cass Rodino and Jordan.  Can this group piece together the bits of information they have found and solve the mystery of who, what, when and where the evil attacks are going to be?
Sue Duffy does an excellent job weaving this story together.  I love spy novels and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Her story kept my attention and she even threw in a few surprises at the end.  Her characters all have issues they are working through.  Many times they are things in our past that we are not proud of, and sometimes it is really hard to forgive ourselves.  I think Sue did a good job in showing that when we bring our problems to God, He is bigger then the things that overwhelm us and can truly heal our hearts.  This is another great read from Sue Duffy and I'm really looking forward to reading the third and final novel in this series to see how she wraps up this story.  If you're looking for a fun read this summer, pick up this series by Sue Duffy.  It's a winner!

More Information
Back Cover: 
     "They come from opposite sides of the world...and opposite lives.  She is a young set designer on Broadway.  He is a former KGB assassin trying to outrun his vicious past and the underground revolution he once served.  What they have in common are painful secrets that fester deep inside them, and an urgent quest for answers that can save the United States from assassination. 
     Working seperately for widely divergent motives, Cass Rodino tracks the mysterious activities of a man she knows well, following him into the New York night and fleeing her own wounded past.  Her counterpart, Evgeny Kozlov, has narrowly escaped his Russian homeland to pursue a phantom figure, known only as the Architect, who has masterminded an insidious plot to destroy the Americans' confidence in their country and its powers to protect them.
     The arcs of their investigations converge when Cass and Evgeny are swept into a major CIA/FBI dragnet, only to discover that the target of their search is conspiring to resurrect the Soviet Union and holds a secret that could devastate the administration of a U.S. president.
     With time slipping from their grasp, who or what will lead them to the center of the maze and the Architect?  Will they get there in time to save Liesl?"

About the Author:  You can read about Sue Duffy and see more of her books on her website by clicking here.



Don't miss this opportunity!!  Kregel is making this book available for free.  The free kindle download will be available June 20th and 21st.  Click here to get your free download.


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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Win Books on Goodreads and Library Thing!


Did you know that Goodreads has giveaways on their site?  I just won my fourth book today and that is only after a couple of weeks.  They have all kinds of books listed for giveaways so you'll have to browse through the listings if you're looking specifically for Christian Fiction or some other genre.  After you enroll on their site, head over to where it says Explore and click on the down arrow next to it.  Then click on giveaways where you can sort through the book giveaways by ending soon, most requested, popular authors and recently listed.   These books are only giveaways and do not require a review.


Another great site where you can win some books is Library Thing.  After joining Library Thing, look on the right side of the website and find where it says: The June ER Batch is up! We've got 2,865 copies of 106 titles this month. Take me to the books!  Click on Take me to the books.  In order to participate in the Early Reviewers program, you need to click join on the right side of the page.  Once you've put in the information they need and clicked submit, then you can go through the book list and click request for the books you are interested in.  You'll know if you've been chosen to review at the end of the current month when they send you an email.  The books change each month and you only have to give a review on their website that has a 25 words minimum.  I've won many great books from this site too!
So head over to Goodreads.com  and Library Thing today and you may win some great new books to enjoy this summer!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Enter to win a Library's worth of Tracie Peterson Stories!

Below is information regarding a promo going on for Tracie Peterson's new book that will be coming out this month.  And you can enter to win a library's worth of Tracie Peterson Stories!

QuarryBride-bannerBHPetersonPromo 
For nearly 100 novels, bestselling author Tracie Peterson has entertained readers with heartwarming tales of history, romance and courage. Now you have the unique chance to win a large selection of some of Tracie’s greatest adventures, along with her newest novel, The Quarryman’s Bride. To enter, just visit Tracie's Book Page on Facebook and fill out the short form. Then click around to read an excerpt, take a poll and more!

Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert

Katie's second book, Wishing on Willows, just came out this past March and I was excited to read and review it!
This second book is about Robin Price, Bethany's good friend.  Bethany designed this great little cafe for Robin called The Willow Tree Cafe.  This cafe was very healing for Robin, helping her to live again after the death of her husband.  Although the cafe is good for Robin, it is difficult to spend enough time with her young three year old son, Caleb.  When a dashing stranger comes into her life, she is taken aback by the feelings that are stirring within her.  Can Robin let go and live again, or will she continue to stay where it is comfortable?

I enjoyed reading the second book of this series.  It was great to read about Robin's story.  Robin has been through such heartbreak and has come so far with her new cafe, but there are still areas where she clings to the past.  And the handsome stranger that enters her life is not to be missed!  He is struggling through many past issues as well.  I think that Katie Ganshert does a great job with the characters in this book.  It's like reading about a familiar family.  It was fun to watch the characters grow throughout the book into something so much better at the end. 

You can read my review of Katie Ganshert's first book, Wildflowers from Winter, here.  Katie has a website that you can read about her and her books by clicking here.  You can buy Wishing on Willows here.

Below is a sneek peek of Katie's book.



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

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tyndale's Summer Reading Program


Tyndale's annual Summer Reading Program is up and running!  You can earn free books by reading and reviewing books from the book list on their website.  For every 5 books you read and review, you earn a free book.  The Program runs from June 1st-August 31st.  To join the summer fun click here!
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