Friday, September 12, 2014

A Rant of Sorts

Sometimes I just have to wonder what I'm thinking. For most of this past summer, I've been listening to the Left Behind Series mainly because the first book was part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program. And while it was nice to revisit this series, I see now why I never took the time reading either the prequels or the final one Kingdom Come. The final one came out 7 years ago, and by that point I was already over the series. Especially since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out that year.

This isn't exactly a review per say, it's really more of a rant.

For those who haven't read either the Left Behind Series or this book, here is what this one is about.
Following the years of the Tribulation and Christ's triumphant victory over the Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia, believers have been reunited with their loved ones. Set during the Millennial Kingdom, Rayford Steele and others who survived are enjoying the peaceful kingdom of Christ on earth. His grandson, Kenny Williams, has grown up and is working with his parents at a child care center. When he is asked to infiltrate a group of dissidents, he agrees. Though he realizes it could very cost him the love of the woman he is in love with. But with lies cast against his character and Kenny's parents and friends doubting him, Kenny must trust in Jesus in a way he never has.

Ok, so that's pretty much the synopsis. This book was not only VERY slow moving, but I felt it wasn't even written by the same people. There is so much wrong with this book. I think I see why I've never actually read it when it came out. I didn't need to know what was going on. I think that the authors decided to capitalize on the success of the series and truly only wrote this for the money.

From my understanding of Scripture, I've always been taught that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and that there is no need to offer the Old Testament sacrifices again. In this book, it appears that life in the kingdom is like the Old Testament times - sacrifices and all - only with Jesus as the ruler of the world.

It has also been my understanding of Scripture (and I admit that I could be completely wrong!) that the Church will need no need for food, drink, sleep, etc during this period. The authors have chosen to make even those who were either Raptured or martyred need food, drink, sleep, etc. The authors have also chosen to make the main characters (Rayford, Irene, Abdullah, Chloe, Cameron, Chaim, Tsion, etc) even those who have glorified bodies be in need of food, drink, sleep, etc.

Also, this book introduces a whole new cast of characters while not even mentioning some of the others (Chang, Leah, Hannah, Naomi, etc). I've also been given the impression that the characters (all of them including those who have been glorifed) still go through the normal human emotions.

There are VERY large pieces of the book are basically retelling pages after pages of the main series. And HUGE passages of nothing but Scripture. I don't mind the characters speaking Scripture, I really don't, but the large amounts of it, specifically within the heroes stories, I found to be very tedious and did nothing to move the plot along.

The action scenes are really few and far between. When there is action, it does move quickly, but I've been bogged down in the rest of the "filler" that I'm like oh There's the story!

After the authors have invested twelve books developing the characters, they (the characters) had depth to them. They also had personalities and I felt like I knew them. Yet in this book, the characters are very flat. These are characters that have been fleshed out since the first book (Rayford, Chaim, Chloe, Cameron, Tsion). I felt really cheated. Here were characters I'd come to really know and love and I'm left with really nothing to them.

There are times when I really liked Kenny. But so much of the interactions with Kenny are juvenile and seem to just be a case of "he said/she said." Once everything was wrapped up with Kenny, what happens to him was almost an afterthought. I expected more. Oh and the ultimate final battle. It was like only a chapter long.

What happened to the thrill ride of an adventure I'd come to enjoy and expect from the Left Behind series? Why did the authors write this book as if it's target audience was between the ages of 10-14? I know that my reading tastes have changed over the years since I first read Left Behind. But even with my reading tastes changing, I can still recognize quality when I read it.

Yes, I forced myself to finish the book, mainly because I'd already invested in the series and I really don't like not finishing books I start.

If I had to recommend this book to someone, I truly wouldn't. I've been left feeling very disappointed in a series I've enjoyed over the years. While I don't feel the same way about this one that I felt about Casual Vacancy by Rowling (I felt really disgusted with that one), this is not one I'd recommend. I'd tell you, reader friends, that just read the 12 books in the main series and don't even waste your time or money on this one.

 The rating I'd give this one is 1.5 stars, which I wouldn't round up at all.

This is my own personal opinion and I received absolutely zero compensation for sharing my thoughts. I'd actually read this book via Audible.

Rant over.

Those who know me, know that I will very rarely go off on a rant like I just did. Because that's just not my personality. But every once in a while, I will need to get something off my chest. This particular post, I'll leave comments available for one week and then lock the comments because I don't want it to turn into a debate.

I will say that Audible gets 5 stars on customer service! I had a problem with the playback on Thursday, and through a series of tweets, I worked with the people at Audible to figure out what I needed to do for the problem. They were very very helpful. And while this was my first time to seek help via Twitter, I was very surprised by the fast response.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nowhere to Turn - A Review

Published - August 2014, Revell Books a division of Baker Publishing House
Series - Hidden Identity Series Book 2
Author - Lynette Eason
Title - Nowhere to Turn
Format - paper, ebook
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For years, Danielle Harding has suffered abuse in silence. On the same day that she and her son leave her husband, is the same day that she becomes a widow. Feeling free at last, Dani and her son set about building a new life. But when what she thought was just a stalking incident escalates into being threatened at gunpoint, Dani is fearful for her life. Evidently she has something of her husband's that someone wants. Not knowing who to trust, Dani turns to Operation Refuge. Adam Buchanan is sent to protect Dani and her son. Yet as the danger grows, so do the feelings Adam feels for Dani. Will Dani be forced to run for her life yet again or will she find the courage to stand tall and not only accept Adam's love, but also his protection?

I've read a few of Lynette Eason's books before and have found them to be very suspenseful. This one was good, but not enthralling like some of her others.

It was very suspenseful, true. I'd figured out pretty early exactly how the stalker kept finding Dani's location at each new safe house, so when that was actually revealed, I wasn't surprised. I thought that the characters were pretty well developed as a whole. Simon, Dani's son, was probably my favorite.

I didn't see that this book had quite the same element of suspense as the first in this series. And when the overall villain was revealed, I felt it had come out of nowhere. Still I did enjoy the book. It was a fast read for me.

I received this book for free from Revell Books for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book, only give my honest opinion. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon, romantic suspense, Dee Henderson

Rating - 3.5 stars - This is another time that I wish that Amazon/Goodreads would offer half ratings! It's not a four star book, but it's not a 3 either. But I will rank it for Amazon/Goodreads as 3.

Friday, August 29, 2014

An August Bride - A Review

Published - July 29, 2014, Zondervan Books
Series - Year of Weddings Novella
Author - Debra Clopton
Title - An August Bride
Format - ebook
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Kelsey Wilcox has given up on love. And cowboys. And anything to do with ranching. She's happily running a popular bistro on the beach in Corpus Christi. She's also a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. When the Mule Hollow Matchmaking Posse arrives in town for the wedding, Kelsey hoped to stay under their radar. But no such luck with her aunt on the posse. Especially when she races into the ocean to rescue her aunt's puppy. Yet when the current pulls her down, she soon finds herself in the arms of a handsome cowboy. Brent Corbin thinks he's seeing things when he sees a mermaid struggling in the water. He quickly realizes that his mermaid is a beautiful woman. When he discovers that they are both in the same wedding, he hopes to build on the attraction between them. There's just a couple of obstacles in the way. The biggest being that she doesn't want anything to do with cowboys or ranches. With the encouragement of the posse, Brent takes a chance. Will Kelsey let him break down her barriers?

I've always enjoyed Debra Clopton's books. This one was no exception.

I found it to be full of humor and very sweet. I really loved Brent. Handsome cowboy who is a sweetheart? That's like a swoon worthy combination. I loved how he was so patient with Kelsey. Yet he was determined to show her that not all cowboys are the same. And of course I loved the Posse. They are always a hoot whenever I stumble across them.

I think that romantics everywhere would enjoy this. It is one of my favorites in the Year of Weddings series.

This one is probably my second favorite of the series so far. My fave being March Bride. :)

I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of weddings, novellas, Love Inspired, Debra Clopton

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wild Thing - A Review

Published - May 2011, Tyndale House Publishers
Series - Winnie, the Horse Gentler Book 1
Author - Dandi Daley Mackall
Title - Wild Thing
Format - ebook, paper
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Winnie Willis loves horses. Some might even say she has a gift. When she comes across an Arabian that is obviously being mistreated, Winnie befriends the horse. With all they have in savings, Winnie and her sister convince their father to purchase the horse at auction and allow Winnie to prepare her for sale. The only drawback, Winnie would love to keep the Arabian for her own. Will she get her wish?

It has been a  very long time since I read a book about horses. I remember loving the horse books by Marguerite Henry growing up.

This was a pretty quick read. I spent most of Sunday afternoon reading it. I loved the characters of Lizzy, Catman, and Barker. I loved too how each of those characters used their unique gifts to relate to various animals.

I loved how Winnie went through times of not sure if the work she was doing with the horse would be successful or if her father would even notice her. She also struggled with forgiving herself for her mother's death. And being under the impression that her father blamed her. That discovery was, for me, one of the most poignant pieces of the book.

I read this book as part of the Tyndale Summer Reading program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of horses, the Babysitter Club, Sandra Byrd

Rating - 4 stars

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

All for a Story - A Review

Published - October 2013, Tyndale House Publishers
Series - All For Book 2
Author - Allison Pittman
Title - All for a Story
Format - ebook, paper
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Monica Bisbaine  loves all that the Roaring Twenties has to offer. She is frequently heading to the speakeasys and other places that a good girl really shouldn't be at. Yet, she finds herself wanting more. When Max Moore inherits the paper that Monica writes for, he is determined to bring changes to it. He wants to make it more than a tabloid. He wants to turn it into an uplifting and encouraging paper. When Max tells Monica that she needs to infiltrate the Anti-Flirt Club and to write a piece about them, Monica resists. Yet as she gets into the assignment, she discovers that maybe it's time for her to quit being the way that she is and to truly change.

It's been a long time since I read one of Allison Pittman's books. I can't really say why other than they've not made it onto my radar. This one was one I saw I had on my Kindle and saw it was on the Summer Reading list, so I thought why not.

I found it rather hard to hold my attention. Parts of it were really good. But I also thought that parts were really dull. Maybe it was the language of the Twenties. Maybe it was the way that Monica didn't really want to change. I don't know. It left  me feeling a little disappointed.

I'm also not really sure that I liked the way that the threads of the story were not completely resolved. I liked the hopeful ending, but the way that that ending came about, I think I missed something. I know it's part of a series, but I also know it stands alone.

Still it was rich in historical detail. Others may enjoy this, but for me, this time period isn't one I really like to read about.

I read this book as part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, Roaring Twenties, Jessica Dotta

Rating - 3 stars

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Really Want to Read by Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly theme hosted over on The Broke & The Bookish

This week's Top Ten is the Top Ten Books I Really Want to Read but I Don't Own Yet. And while it was fairly simple for me to come up with some, I realized as I was writing them down on a sticky note, that I've actually four categories of ones I don't own. So my top ten is broken down into these categories:
1. Books I've read but don't own that I would like to
2. Books I want to read but don't own yet
3. Books that aren't yet published that I will own
4. Review copies I have that I've not yet had a chance to read.

So here are my top ten.

Books I've Read that I Don't Yet Own but Want to Own

1. For Such a Time by Kate Breslin - This was a beautiful retelling of Esther set in WWII.
2. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Mariller - This one is based on the fairy tale, Seven Swans, which has long been one of my favorites. It's probably the only one from the series I really want to own.

Books I Want to Read but Don't Own Yet

3. Desires of a Baron by Rose Gordon - I've just not been able to get this one yet. I will soon though.
4. Chateau of Secrets by Melanie Dobson - I love her fairy tale books. This one isn't one of those, but it has captured my attention.
5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I keep hearing great things about this book. I've really got to get it read soon.

Books Not Yet Published That I Will Own

6. Home of Our Hearts by Robin Jones Gunn - I cannot wait to continue reading about Christy & Todd and their married life!
7.  Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren - The next installment in the Christiansen series. I'm in love with this family and can't wait to read this one.

Review Copies I Own That I Need to Read

8. Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears - I got this in the other day and need to get it onto my schedule. I enjoyed the first in the series.
9. The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate - I've heard great things about this author and I'm excited to finally getting around to reading one of her books.
10. Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer - I've enjoyed her other books. I enjoy reading about the Harvey Girls. I'm sure I'll enjoy this one.

So there you have it. My top ten books I'm looking forward to reading soon. What is on your list? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Revenge of the Red Knight - A Review

Published - February 2012, Focus on the Family
Author - Marianne Hering
Series - Adventures in Odyssey Imagination Station Book 4
Title - Revenge of the Red Knight
Format - ebook, paper
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Cousins Beth and Patrick are trying to help Mr. Whittaker reclaim several missing treasures from a treasure room in ancient England. They've been to Greenland, the time of Kublai Khan, and now they are in England in the 1400's. It's here that they meet Hugh, a man they soon realize is a villain.  Will they be successful in restoring the historical treasures?

I think that it would have been very helpful for me to have read books 1-3 in the series before this one. But I didn't. Still I was able to enjoy it.

I did find that this one didn't have the nuggets of truth that some of the later ones I read do. In some ways, I think that the author was trying too hard to make the storyline work. But I can still see kids enjoying this one. I probably read this in about 30 minutes.

While this one wasn't my favorite of the Imagination Station series, I liked it.

I rented this book from the library to read as part of Tyndale's Summer Reading Program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Adventures in Odyssey, I survived, Magic Tree House, kids ages 7-9

Rating - 3 stars