October 14, 2017

Review: With You Always

With You Always With You Always by Jody Hedlund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this historical set in both NYC and in Quincy, IL. I liked the contrast of the two settings and also enjoyed the time period.

It was fun to see characters from the previous novella again. I liked Elise a lot in the novella and was glad she was the main character in this one. I love her type in historical books. The type that gives as good as she gets. The type that doesn't back down from the men - especially not the ones that don't want to pay a fair wage and take good care of their employees! I really loved how she puts Thornton in his place - more than once!

I also liked the little bit of mystery and suspense that Hedlund threw in. I did figure out part of it but not every detail. But it was the perfect amount to keep the pages turning without detracting from the story.

I did feel like the romance went a little fast but I do know why it had to and I guess sometimes when you know, you know.

I also have to admit that I didn't love the younger sisters this time. I was actually quite annoyed with the middle sister in this book.

I loved the research that obviously went into publishing this book. I loved the historical significance of the time and also the details on the different train loads that were taken west.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This is my honest review.

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Review: Any Dream Will Do

Any Dream Will Do Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked the redemption story in this book. I also liked the forgiveness given numerous times. It isn't often that a mainstream book leaves me feeling this good but this book was wonderful!

I'll admit when I first met Shay I really didn't think much of her. Of course that is because that is how Macomber wanted me to feel. And honestly I didn't think much of Drew either! But as the story progressed and I got to see more into both of their lives and especially personalities I grew to like them both more and more.

I loved how hard Drew worked to keep life normal for his kids. And I loved how hard Shay worked to better her life. And I really loved how Shay poured herself into those less fortunate in little ways that made a big impression.

But I'll admit what I really loved was that I just read a mainstream book about a preacher and a woman and there were a lot of fiery kisses but no premarital sex. In fact he was quite careful about not putting themselves in that position. Loved that. Even some of the Christian novels these days are starting to push the border a little bit. And I understand it because they want to relate to more people and they want to be more realistic. But I like the fact that this book was realistic and it was a little edgy with Shay's past. Yet it still remained very clean while still having passion. I will definitely continue to read more from Macomber!

I did receive an advanced copy from NetGalley. This is my honest review.

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October 13, 2017

Review: Becoming Resilient: How to Move Through Suffering and Come Back Stronger

Becoming Resilient: How to Move Through Suffering and Come Back Stronger Becoming Resilient: How to Move Through Suffering and Come Back Stronger by Donna Gibbs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the better personal growth books I've read in a long time. I chose to read and review it because I saw that the tagline was "How to move through suffering and come back stronger" and I am glad I did.

I really learned a lot in this book. Some of it I didn't really learn in this book but was reminded of but just the same I learned a lot. I really appreciated that this book was grounded in spiritual truths. A few of the scriptures she used are ones that I have clung to as some of my favorites over the years. And I related with some of the stories in this book pertaining to health concerns, chronic conditions, and pain because I deal with all of those. I really appreciated the advice she gave in this book.

A few things that really stood out to me were the importance of a positive inner dialogue replacing false thoughts with truth, that God must be greater while I am less, the importance of support, and finally the importance of self care along with many examples of how to take care of yourself.

Like I said a lot of what was in this book wasn't brand new information but it was shared in three parts that just really made sense. I appreciated Gibbs' thoughts as a counselor but I also appreciated the scriptures and stories from the Bible that went along with her thoughts. Not all of her real-life stories from friends, family, and patients were applicable to me but they were great additions to the book.

I would especially recommend this book to anyone dealing with health issues, trauma, abuse, or loss.

I received a copy of this book from Revell. This is my honest review.

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Review: Talking with God: What to Say When You Don't Know How to Pray

Talking with God: What to Say When You Don't Know How to Pray Talking with God: What to Say When You Don't Know How to Pray by Adam Weber
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was really excited to read a book with this title. I was hoping for a book that would help me grow my spiritual life and improve my prayer life. Unfortunately I was let down.

I liked the topics that Weber chose to discuss. Of course I wanted to read about how to pray during the storms of life and when I'm discouraged or when I'm stuck. I especially looked forward to the chapter about being exhausted. But no matter how much I liked the topics he picked to write about I was left feeling a little disappointed. My expectations were not met.

I think that I just wasn't the intended audience for this book. I didn't care for the super short sentences or the colloquial wording. I especially didn't care for the references that seemed they would have fit better in a youth group. Which leads me to think that maybe this would be a good book for youth to read. But then I remember that I felt this book almost over simplified prayer so I'm not sure I would want it to be the example for a teenager.

This book might be best for someone young and very new to the faith. Much like the author was when he changed churches in high school.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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October 9, 2017

Review: My Unexpected Hope

My Unexpected Hope My Unexpected Hope by Tammy L. Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love that Gray writes books that push the boundaries of Christian Fiction. I love that this book deals with really difficult problems like alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse, and divorce because it keeps readers like myself from only reading easy, happily ever after books that only leave a smile on my face. I really liked that there were times in this book that I wasn't smiling because that is truly realistic. Life isn't always sunshine and roses.

I also loved how unpredictable this book was! Gray surprised me a couple of times with turns of events that I didn't expect. I get tired of books that are too easy to figure out so that was a lovely change of pace.

I really liked how we got to watch both Laila and Chad grow in this book. And I loved that it wasn't always easy growth either. I especially liked Chad's dedication and how well Gray portrayed the difficulties he faced as a result of both his childhood and his addictions. I also liked how Laila found healing through volunteering.

I think my favorite part of this book was the honesty. So many books gloss over the hard stuff or leave it out completely and Gray doesn't do that. She writes about the gritty hard stuff and even pushes deeper as she helps her characters find hope.

I received a copy of this book through the publisher and NetGalley. This is my honest review.

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Review: Healing Love

Healing Love Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a hard book for me to review because there were some aspects that I loved very much but also some parts that were just a little far fetched. I have served on many short-term mission trips. Some were one and a half weeks but one was six weeks and the last two were 12 weeks. All were in Latin America. And I am fluent in Spanish. I have seen the conditions described in this book. So keep that in mind as you read my review.

First, what I loved:

I loved the view of short-term missions trips in this book. It was actually a more realistic view of them than I usually find because it actually mentioned the fact that sometimes a short-term mission trip can do more harm than good. The rich, all-powerful, white men and women swoop into a developing nation and drop off tons of "gifts" and spend a lot of money on airfare and make a lot of promises that are never fulfilled. Thankfully this book actually shows a group of people and a church that plan repeated trips to the same orphanage to foster actual relationships. And they also continued to help from the US.

I also loved that this book portrayed BOTH sides of the missions trip. I appreciated the view points of so many people. Especially Ubaldo, Fatima, and the reluctant to go Brooke. I liked the honest portrayal of the life of young Fatima. How desperate she was for food and water. How she was treated by family. How scared she lived life everyday. And I liked that Slatterly made it hard to read her story with the daily fear of being raped. I liked how honest Ubaldo was throughout the story. His view of the North Americans is very common and I liked that it was revealed. And I appreciated that Brooke went on the trip even though she didn't want to because it opened her eyes to a whole new world. And I loved how Brooke used her own personal life to really show empathy to the orphans.

Things that I didn't love about this book were minor in most people's eyes probably but really stood out to me. For me the biggest problem I had with this book was the love story. Honestly if the love story had been left out of this book or only been a minor crush I might have given it five stars. Unfortunately though I had to watch a rather unrealistic love story unfold. I know it is fiction but the reality of the difficulty of a cross-cultural relationship is very hard. And even more so when they don't both speak the same native language. There was more to this situation that didn't seem realistic but I don't want to share spoilers.

Overall this was a good book and I'm glad I read it.

I was provided a copy of this book by the author. This is my honest review.

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