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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

'The Christmas Singing' by Cindy Woodsmall

I'm not usually one for Christian fiction or Christian romance books. I've read a few Amish romance novels and I couldn't ever connect with the characters. My own life seems so far removed from the characters in these kinds of books, so normally I don't really have a frame of reference to go with. So I don't really know why I picked this book to review but I'm glad I did.

This is a light easy read with characters that are real and flawed and likable. The story centers around Mattie who had her heart broken by the love of her life, Gideon. She then moves out of state, starts a new life with her own bakery and meets a safe, nice man who she plans to marry. Through various circumstances, she comes back into contact with Gideon and realizes that she's not over him completely.

While the ending became a little predictable, I enjoyed this book all the way to the end. Honestly though, every romance novel regardless of genre is a little predictable! I don't want to give anything about the story away, but there's really no bad guy here. All the characters had their flaws but you could really empathize with them. They all had their reasons for doing the things they did but didn't try to actively hurt one another.

My only small complaint is, there were parts that I felt would have been better and made the story overall better if they had been fleshed out more. A little longer, more in depth book would have been better for me.

A nice surprise is the recipes at the end of the book for the cakes in the story. They sound so very yummy and if I ever have the time and the inspiration I might have to pull out this book and make one of those cakes.   If Christian romance, especially Amish is your thing you will really enjoy this book.

I received a copy of this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review and all thoughts contained within are my own.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

'The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband' by Nina Roesner

Just a little disclaimer at the beginning of this review, I haven't actually gone through and done all the dares. I just read the book for this review and I plan on going back through later and doing all the dares.

Just like the Love Dare this book is a forty day journey. But unlike the Love Dare, this book focuses more on changing your own thoughts and feelings instead of showing lots of outward signs of affection and respect. I think that this is good for several reasons. One, while all men like to have the respect of their wives, respect looks different for every man. Two, it helps us as women to understand that our actions can really build our husbands up or tear them down in a way that no one else on earth can.

Just reading the book I was amazed at how in depth it is. At first I was a little confused about some of the chapters like the 17 Frying Pans chapter. I realize that keeping an orderly home helps things to run smoothly and better but I just felt like it was out of place. Unless you husband really wants you to keep an orderly house. Then it makes sense.

I do like how in every chapter there is scripture. That's where we get the strength to be the women that God has called us to be and He needs to be central in everything. Plus the verses tied very well into what she was trying to say into the chapter. That showed me that massive thought was put into this book.

The one drawback to the book for me was all the talking about the authors Daughters of Sarah program. It just felt like the author found a way to get lots of free advertising in. While it did annoy me after awhile, it didn't take away from the overall message for me.

I would recommend this book. I honestly can't wait to start actually doing the dares. It seems like an answer to a prayer for me to have found this book. It's exactly what I need to change the direction I am heading in my marriage. Get the book! You won't be disappointed.

I got this book for free for review from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review and all thoughts contained in this review are my own.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

'A Home in Drayton Valley' by Kim Vogel Sawyer

I wasn't sure about this book when I requested it because I am very picky when it comes to historical fiction. But the story sounded interesting to me so I gave it a whirl.

The basic story is, two friends are desperate to escape their lives in New York in 1880. Tarsie is single and Mary is married with two children. Mary's husband Joss is not a very nice person at the beginning of the book. The only things he seems to care about are drinking and Mary. Through a series of events the two friends and Mary's family head out to live in Kansas.

Mary dies on the way and before she dies, she makes Tarsie promise to take care of Joss and the children. Then the story goes on from there about the life in Kansas and the changes in Tarsie and Joss.

Overall I thought this was a good book. A nice solid story and for the most part believable characters. However, there were a few things that I just didn't understand. We don't get to see a lot of the friendship between Mary and Tarsie so it wasn't very believable to me that Tarsie would just fork over her life's savings to get Mary out of New York and then take over the care of Mary's family when she died. The book talked about how they were such great friends but the only thing that I saw was Tarsie doing Mary's work because she was just too sick. I guess if there had just been some more back story it would have been a little better for me.

I almost didn't finish reading this book because of the character of Joss. I disliked him so much that if I didn't think that he would be redeemed at the end of the story, I would have stopped reading. He was just such a loathsome character that when he first started to change into a better person, I didn't even care. Plus with him changing a little bit and then changing right back it was so frustrating to read.

Overall though, I thought this was an excellent book. I really liked the character of Tarsie. She was a strong woman who cared deeply about people and had a strong faith that is admirable. I really enjoyed this book and I'm glad that I picked it.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for free in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review and all thoughts in this review are my own.

Friday, January 18, 2013

'Healing is a Choice' by Stephen Arterburn

When I requested this book I wasn't sure what to expect. I figured that this could be a really good book or it could be one of those self-help books that leaves me flat and wondering why that book didn't work for me. I must admit that when I started to read the introduction I almost put the book down. It seemed that the authors divorce was the driving force in his life and the pain and anger seemed to still be present in his writing about his ex-wife. I'm very glad that I pushed on.

The basic premise of this book is that there are ten decisions you can make in your life to start healing from past hurts and traumas. There are also ten lies that you can tell yourself that will stop you from healing. The ten choices are, The Choice to Connect your Live, The Choice to Feel Your Life, The Choice to Investigate Your Life in Search of Truth, The Choice to Heal Your Future, The Choice to Help Your Life, The Choice to Embrace Your Life, The Choice to Forgive, The Choice to Risk Your Life, The Choice to Serve, and The Choice to Persevere. While all of these chapters help some great advice and words of wisdom, the chapter about risking your life was the chapter that struck me the most. I've been stuck in my own little safety cocoon and I needed to break out. That chapter actually inspired to come to a decision about something I've been mulling over for months. It inspired me to take a risk.

The ten lies are, All I need to heal is God and me, Real Christians should have a peace in all circumstances, It does no good to look back or look inside, Time heals all wounds, I can figure this out by myself, If I just act as if there is no problem, it will finally go away, Forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it, I must protect myself from any more pain, Until I am completely healed and strong, there is no place for me to serve God, There is no hope for me. All these lies are something I could relate to as I've thought them at one time or another. The author does a fantastic job of laying out why these things just aren't true and giving examples why.

This is a fantastic book. It's hard to get through because you really have to look at yourself and try to look at yourself in depth. It can be hard to do but it really is worth it. I recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book for free from Thomas Nelson publishers through their Booksneeze program. I was not required to give a positive review and all the thoughts contained in this review are my own.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

'Happily Ever After' by Gary Chapman

Due to life events (surgery, pregnancy, and a new baby this past July) it's taken me a very long time to review this book.

First off, I thought this was a really informative advice with a lot of exercises and how-to so you could actually apply this advice to your life. It can sometimes be frustrating when you get advice from a book but have no idea how to apply it to your life and the book gives no examples.

This book is split up into 6 parts. Part one is 'Everybody Wins: Solving Conflicts without Arguing;. Part two is 'Home Improvements: Negotiating Change with Your Spouse. Part three is, ' Profit Sharing: Making Money an Asset in Your Marriage'. Part four is, 'Now What?: Marriage after the Children Arrive'. Part five is, 'Making Love: Making Sex an Act of Love' and part six is, 'In-Law Relationships: Becoming Friends with Your In-Laws'. Then each section was broken up into different chapters.

While overall this book was very good, I felt like I got tons out of some sections and not a lot out of others. The first section about conflict management was fantastic. It was chock full of advice and how-to and I really got a lot out of it. The section about making love fell completely flat for me. It felt like that section was just saying the same thing over and over in different ways. To be honest about mid way through the section I just started skimming.

One last thing I wanted to talk about was, his other book 'The Five Love Languages' is massively referenced in this book. While he does go over each love language in this book I think reading 'The Five Love Languages' first would probably have helped me more with this book.

Overall a very good read and stuffed with lots of practical advice that can help marriages.

I was given this book to review by Tyndale Publishers for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.