Children’s Book Review: I Can Only Imagine by Bart Millard

I Can Only Imagine: A Friendship with Jesus Now and Forever

I Can Only Imagine: A Friendship with Jesus Now and Forever by Bart Millard

March 13, 2018 – Thomas Nelson

32 pgs. – Children’s Fiction, Inspirational, christian

Purpose: Review, #offmybookshelf

Source: Publisher

5 Stars 

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

This was another beautifully illustrated story that we received this month. The pictures are bright and fun. The story takes you through a series a questions that allows you to reflect on what you know about Jesus and imagine what it would be like to be with him daily, in the small ways.  It is very appropriate and engaging for kids. My daughter enjoyed looking at the pictures and my son enjoyed the rhythm of the story itself.

 

Always Shine!

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Review: Love Story By Karen Kingsbury

Love Story (The Baxter Family, #1)

Love Story by Karen Kingsbury 

The Baxter Family #1

June 6, 2017 – Howard Books

345 pages – Contemporary, Romance, Fiction, Inspirational

Source: Publicist

Purpose: Review

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Oh man, why did I wait so long to pick this up? I was contacted a long time ago about reviewing this title. And it being one of Kingsbury’s titles, I immediately said yes. I really love Kingsbury, and do plan on catching up with all of her backlist titles that I have yet to read. But, she is one of those authors that you forget how much you enjoy until you pick up her books. Or at least I do. When I do -finally- pick it up, I am never disappointed.  This goes back and tells the love story of John and  Elizabeth Baxter, the beginning of the Baxter family. So if you  have not read any of the other titles this is a good place to start, though there are references to previous events and characters from other stories, it is a story that can stand on its own.

There are three stories going on in this book. John is going down memory lane, for his grandson’s (Cole) heritage project, and reliving the heartwarming and aching story of is love story with his first wife, Elizabeth. Ashley is forced to confront her own past and rocky love history when her son, Cole, asks to know the story about his dad.  Cole knows that the man that has raised him all of these years is not his biological dad, and Ashley assumes Cole is asking for a story that she is not ready to tell.  Finally, Cody must admit that he has lost the one and only love of his life when he let Andi break off their second engagement and walk out of his life.

Each story requires each person to confront the mistakes that they made, relive the moments where love and God’s grace changed things for them. It is a sweet story, not just about the romance between couples. In each story, each memory that is shared, you can see how God is courting each person with all of their failings and flaws. It is beautiful as well as heartbreaking. The ebb and flow graceful dance between God and the people that He loves in classic Kingsbury style.

 

What You Should Know: 

-This is the first in a new trilogy set in the Baxter Family saga

-The Baxter Family saga consists of 20+ books broken up into multiple trilogies and quartets.

-I have not read any of the Baxter books, but I have read quite a few of Kingsbury’s other titles.

-This book is worth purchasing, unless you are the type that has to have a series in all of its entirety. In which case I recommend borrowing from the library first to see if its for you, since this is such a long running series.

 

4 Stars 

Always Shine!

 

Review: Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Can't Help Falling

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac 

October 11, 2016 – Howard Books

Purpose: Review, #Kindlecleanup

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

I was given a digital copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

5 stars!

If you want to read what this book is about, you can check out the summary here.

This is Isaac’s second romance, and just like she did in Close to You, she weaves the classic magic and whimsy of one beloved classic into her story. Instead of Tolkien, Isaac takes on C.S. Lewis and the magical wintery world of Narnia. Once again, I feel in love with her writing, her characters and the story in general.  I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this book up, considering that as soon as I finished reviewing her debut title, I asked the publisher for this book.

There are so many things that I loved about this story. Starting with the way that she uses Narnia to push the story along, while at the same time cause the reader to fall in love (or reignite their love) with Narnia.  She brought that story to life in a way that would make Lewis proud.  Also, I love the way that her characters are tremendously flawed. They are real people, despite their fantastical back stories. The way that they struggle with living their faith or finding their faith is so deeply real, it connects to people from all sorts of backgrounds. The romance is sweet, and humorous and things go catastrophically wrong. But, you are still invested and optimistic. Even if deep down you  know that there will be a happily ever after, you  don’t know how that is going to happen.  You know that the road to get together was long and complicated, but all of the issues are addressed. And while, there may still be some complications that the couple must work  through, you are still left with optimism and a feeling a romantic whimsy. It’s beautiful.

I enjoyed this book, tremendously. While it dealt with some heavy topics, it was done in such a way that made them feel real as well as weightless.  I can’t wait for her next novel!

Always Shine!

BookLook Review: Merlin’s Nightmare

Merlin's Nightmare (The Merlin Spiral #3)

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard

Merlin Spiral #3

Blink – May 13, 2014

Purpose: Review, Complete a Series

Source: Booklook Blogger Program

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 Stars

This is the third and final book in the Merlin Spiral trilogy.  So I can’t say very much about what happens in this book without spoiling the book. I can say that this is the book where Arthur has grown up and learns the truth of his birth and history. If you have been following me for a while you know that I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books. So no surprise that I enjoyed this one, though the enjoyment is bittersweet. I am very happy to have arrived at the end of this trilogy, but I am also very sad that this adventure has come to an end.

I am only sorry that it has taken me so very long to read this. Part of it was my aversion to reading the final book in a series, something that I am getting so much better at. Part of it was simply that I knew that it was going to take me a while to get through. I say that not to turn people away from this book, it is not a quick read. Though, it is hard to put down.  Once again, Treskillard has a way of packing his books with so so much goodness. It doesn’t feel like you are not just captivated by the story but that you are right there along the characters experiencing their adventure with them.

We have a returning cast of characters, and while they are all essentially the same, they are also different. So much has changed, the characters have grown and gone on with life. They have different roles and have taken on new challenges. I, once again, really enjoyed this book. It is hard to pick a favorite, so I would recommend that you just read the entire trilogy.  And once you have finished, keep an eye out for Treskillard’s new trilogy The Pendragon Spiral, where Arthur steps into his role and becomes the main character.

 

Revell Reads Review: Justice Delayed

Justice Delayed (Memphis Cold Case #1)

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

Memphis Cold Case #1

Fleming H. Revell Company – January 31, 2017

Purpose: Review

Source: Revell Reads Review Program

 I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

2.5 stars

Andi Hollister is a TV crime reporter for a Memphis news station. Detective Will Kincaide has recently been promoted to the newly established Cold Case Unit. Eighteen years ago, Andi’s sister Stephanie was murdered. Eighteen years ago, Will’s cousin, Jimmy, was convicted of Stephanie’s murder. Today, in less than a week, Jimmy is scheduled to be executed. Today, he receives a letter stating that he did not kill Stephanie. And so the story begins.

I wanted to review this book because Bradley keeps popping up on my book radar. I really wanted to like this book, and for the most part I did. Well, it was just okay. There are some things that stuck out to me that I had a problem with. And I guess I should start with them.

First, Will was not the only detective investigating this case. There was his supervisor/partner in the Cold Case Unit, Lieutenant David Raines, and Brad Hollister, a homicide detective. Brad is investigating a case that may or may not have anything to do with Stephanie Hollister’s homicide. Andi is also investigating her sister’s murder, though she is doing so under the guise of reporting and making a documentary. So in total, you are following four different people as they investigate the same case. Some of it is them trying to cover as many possible bases as possible since they have such a short amount of time. That is not the problem. The problem is that they don’t talk to each other.  If they had talked to each other, they may have been able to make connections a lot sooner. Characters (Andi) would not be put into unnecessary danger or accidentally reveal information to the wrong people.

Something else that bothered me was the fact that none of the detectives were suspicious of anyone that they talked to. I understand that they were talking to people that were prominent figures in the community. They question each person, again not discussing what was discovered with each other, but it seemed to be more of going through the motions than real investigating. I would think that as detective that they would be more suspicious, or at least curious about the people that they talked to. But, no, they detectives and Andi took everything that was told to them at face value.

My final issue is Andi’s addiction to pain pills. It didn’t read as authentic as it should have been to make it believable. It read as more of a plot device than something that was really affecting the character. It read as if it was something thrown in to move Andi in and out of different positions that would move the story along. If she was not addicted to the pills, there would have been something more believable that would have done the same thing.

But on the other hand, I did  find the  story interesting enough to finish the book, I did like the characters and their relationship to each other.  I also liked the fact that the romance part of the story really did take a back seat to the main story thread.  Though the problems did stand a lot to me, enough to affect the rating, I would be interested in seeing where this series goes next.

Always Shine!

*DNF Review* 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations

The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations: Walking alongside People Who Believe Differently

9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations by Mary Schaller and John Crilly

Source: Tyndale House Publishers

Non-fiction, Christian, *DNF Review*
A copy of this title was given to me, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Normally, I try to read review books in their entirety. But, after starting and stopping this one, I decided that this book just may not be for me. Or maybe I am trying to read it at the wrong time. Since I’ve had this book for a long while, I thought that it was time to  move forward with it, especially since it is unlikely that I will come back to this.

I will say that this books was easy to read. It was not bogged down with a bunch of fancy terms or technical lingo. From what I read this book was easily accessible. What bothered me was that the premise is really nothing original, it’s common sense. Yes, what it is suggesting goes against the norm and common practice. But the entire book can be summed up in one or two sentences that the authors kept coming back to (at least from the small part that I read).  From what I could tell, the rest of the book breaks the central idea into actionable steps.

Just because I was not able to get into it, doesn’t meant that it’s not worth checking out.

 

Always Shine!

Review: Almost Like Being in Love by Beth Vogt

Almost Like Being in Love (Destination Wedding #2)

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt 

Destination Weddings #2

A new day -another opportunity to prover herself to her boss. of course, Caron had complicated th whole “prove herself” challenge by working for her father.

The first two sentences tell you what the challenge is going to be right from the beginning. But, it goes deeper than just Caron working for her father.  What I found to be hilarious, yes I did laugh at this, was the fact that everyone seems to think working for her dad was a bad idea to begin with. When Caron quits, pretty much everyone is like “it’s about time”. She is shocked by this reaction and splutters trying to defend her choice to work at the family realty company.  The only person who wants her to try to get her job back is her long-term boyfriend, Alex.  This, amongst other things, keeps their relationship off-kilter. Caron takes her friend, Margo, up on the offer to come visit. While helping Margo prepare for her wedding, Caron wins an all expenses paid wedding. Which is awkward since she and Alex aren’t yet engaged.

An opportunity arises for Caron to develop a skill that slowly develops into a business idea. The catch is that she will be working with her ex-boyfriend. Something else that stands in that keeps her relationship with Alex off balance.  This story was more than just about how two people come together and fall in love. It’s about being honest with oneself and those that we love, and not just about who you choose to spend the rest of your life with. It’s about finding the strength to stand on your own and walk your own path. It’s about the choices that we all have to make in real life.

I enjoyed this story, it was deep but a little fluffy. I knew from the beginning that there would be a happily ever after, but I still enjoyed the journey to get there. What I enjoyed the most was the upfront faith that the characters had, and while they may have been struggling, they were still honest about it.  I also enjoyed that the humor that was found in the pages did not come from miscommunication (that is such an overdone trope). Will you be surprised by how the story ends? No, but your heart will be warmer and lighter. You will be left with a smile on your face.

3.5 stars

But hidden within these moments was a glimpse of the future and what might come, given time and prayer and choosing to love.

Thanks to Howard Books for giving me a free, copy to review.

Though this is a review copy, all of the opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

Almost Like Being in Love will be available June 28, 2016. 

Be sure to check out Beth Vogt’s websiteFacebooktwitter and instagram to find out about the author and her other books

Always Shine!