Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears 5 Minute Inspirational Stories

The Berenstain Bears 5-Minute Inspirational Stories: Read-Along Classics

The Berenstain Bears 5 Minute Inspirational Stories by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

May 2, 2017 – Zonderkidz

Source: Booklook Bloggers

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

5 Stars

I enjoyed the last Berenstain Bears that I got for review, so when I saw that they had another collection I decided to request it too. To be completely honest, we are a Berenstain Bears family. My son enjoys them, in book form or watching the TV show. So I am not sure if I can be very objective in this review.  I like this collection, it has 12 stories in it. These stories are part of the Living Lights collection, which means that they have faith based themes.  Each story deals with a specific issue, whether it’s prayer, gossiping or bragging. Brother and Sister Bear learns more about their faith and their characters in these stories. The solutions are biblical and addressed in a manner that kids can relate to and make sense of. I think that this is a nice collection of classical stories to add to any family library. While, it may take more than 5 minutes to read (and discuss) the story, they are not overly long and they are sure to hold the attention of any child.

Again, I would recommend this to any family. As a side note, if you have already started collecting any Berenstain Bears books, I would suggest checking the table of contents since this is a bind up of 12 previously published stories.

Always Shine!

Booklook Review: The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

The Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings by Jan and Mike Berenstain

5 Books in 1

April 4, 2017 -Zonderkidz

Source – BookLook Bloggers

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

5 Stars

This is a nice collection of five Berenstain Bears books.  Each story highlights one (or more) aspect friendship and family relationships. This was a great set of stories to share with my kids, and it was a bit nostalgic for me. The writing style was familiar for the most part. Perfect Fishing Spot threw me off a bit because I was not expecting the rhyming. But it was cute, fun and had a lesson at the end.  This collection touches on a variety of issues that children will encounter. How do you treat someone who’s different? What if your best friend gets a new friend? What happens when you are kind to someone? All of these issues are explored but comes with a Biblical resolution. I am happy to add this book to my kids’ collection, and I think that most people will be too.

 

 

Always Shine!

 

Review: *DNF* Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

In case you may be wondering what happened to me this past month, or where I have been… I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. While I will be posting reviews regularly, the rest of this blog’s content won’t come back for a bit. Not until we find our new rhythm. I and family are doing well. 

Unfolding

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

January 31, 2017 – Blink YA Books

Purpose: Review

Source: Booklook Bloggers

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

DNF

                When I read the summary of this book, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy of it. I just had to read it ASAP. So when I had the opportunity to review it, I jumped at the chance. I really thought that I would like this book, I really wanted to. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I was frustrated and bored with this book that I couldn’t even finish it. I hate to review books that I didn’t finish, but there are some cases where I have to. And this is one of them.

I would say that I finished a third of the book, at least a hundred pages into it. And yet, if someone was to ask me what this book was about, I wouldn’t be able to clearly explain it (hence why I skipped that part of my review).  A boy with scoliosis and who is also an epileptic is friends with a girl who was delivered to his neighborhood via a tornado and who is also able to see into the future. I know that something has happened and something is currently happening, I have no clue what that is.  The mystery, the selling point for this book was very slow to unravel. The beginning gives you a lot of questions, but no clue as to the possible answers. A lot of cloak and dagger and otherness, without a real or defined purpose.

My other complaint would be with the characters. Each seemed to have a role to play, and while they have distinct personalities, I didn’t really like any of them. I didn’t connect with any of them, in any way that would cause me to be invested in them or the story.  What this story does have going for it is the potential. I think that the bare bones of this story are good and strong, but it’s everything else that just didn’t work for me.

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!

Adult Psychological Thriller: Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

Sister Sister

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin 

HarperImpulse – January 6, 2017

Purpose: Review, Book Club Pick

Source: Edelweiss, HarperImpulse

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

4 Stars

The last time that Clare had seen her sister Alice was when she was in the car being driven away to America by their dad. Despite every effort to find Alice, going through multiple private investigators and internet searches, Clare has been unable to locate her sister. An unexpected letter arrives, announcing that Alice is indeed alive and looking for her sister and her mother. But meeting her sister does not go according to any of the fantasies that she had imagined.

Without giving too much away, somebody is crazy and it’s really not clear who it is until the end. That makes for an enjoyable reading experience. I really enjoyed this book, it kept me guessing. While there were a few twists that I was able to predict, I was never 100% sure that I was right until it came to pass in the story. I can’t say that there was any one character that I truly liked, it’s hard to say that when you see how they react. I think it was unreasonable, considering how involved that they were with each other.  And that would be my one complaint, there really wasn’t any allies for the person who needed it most.

If you are into psychological thrillers, or family dramas, I would definitely recommend this one!

Always  Shine!

Adult SFF Review: Department Zero by Paul Crilley

Department Zero

Department Zero by Paul Crilley 

Pyr- January 24, 2017

320 pages

Purpose: Review

Source: Edelweiss

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

2 stars

 Harry Priest is divorced with a daughter he is devoted to. He is a crime scene clean up technician. The book opens with Harry and his co-worker, Jorge the boss’s son, being called to a crime scene at a motel. When they arrive, Harry observes that the crime scene doesn’t appear to be ready for them. He is looking for some sign that the police have been there and have already processed the scene. As he is trying to figure this out a team from some unknown organization comes and claims jurisdiction over the crime scene. Harry and Jorge leave, Harry a bit curious but nothing more.  This is the night and the crime scene that changes everything and challenges everything that Harry has believed. The team that took over the crime scene is demoted and blames Harry. Harry is then recruited for what he believes to be for interstitial detective work, but it’s not.  It’s to do the exact same job that he had been doing but on a multiverse level. Havelock Graves recruits Harry in hopes of figuring out what happened to the case that caused him and his team to be demoted. Pursuing this case will take them across dimensions, universes and deep into the mythology of Lovecraftian monsters.

That sounds interesting, to say the least.  The actual book summary caught my attention and made me want to read this book immediately. Unfortunately, it didn’t maintain that level of intrigue throughout the book.  If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be absurd.  There was enough action and mystery and “what the hell is going on?” at the beginning to draw me into the story.  But it didn’t last.  And it wasn’t any one thing that didn’t work for me, it was a bunch of little things. Let’s start with the villains. There were quite a few, but only two really spent the time interacting with the other characters. And both villains sounded the same. Their speech patterns had the same lazy speech rhythms and tones, and they both used the same outdated lingo. Then there is the good guys, the team that you are supposed to be rooting for. But, Graves was an ass and not likable in any way. Ash was just there. I think Crilley missed a lot by not flushing out this character. The dynamic between her and Graves could have made some of the scenes so much stronger and convincing, but instead it was just disappointing. Then there is Harry Priest, himself. I guess he would be the main character, but he is a bumbling idiot. With the amount of times that he stumbled across something only to be knocked over the head, he deserves to end up with permanent brain damage.  While there were surprising moments of impressive instincts, they happened so rarely that it was mostly out of luck or out of character.

Yes, there is a certain amount of suspension of belief when you are reading any fiction book, more so with fantasy. When you decide to add in touches of science fiction, you are looking for science that makes it a bit believable. It is hard to fall into this story as even plausible when the characters themselves are not convinced. It’s like listening to someone tell you a lie when you know that they are lying and you know that they know that you know that they are lying. I really wanted to like this book, I thought that it had a lot of potential. But unfortunately, it was unfulfilled potential.

Always Shine!