Wednesday, July 31, 2013

King - A Review

Akabe is the Infinite's chosen king to rule the people of Siphra. He doesn't feel that he should be king, but he wants to honor the Infinite and rebuild His Temple. His advisers clamor for him to marry and the only woman he feels would be a great queen is Ela of Parne, the Infinite's Prophet. Ela firmly believes that she will never marry, even though she loves Kien Lantec. Though she refuses the king's request, she follows the Infinite's will and marries the man she loves. The king marries a mysterious young woman who may be a threat to both his reign and to the Temple. When assassins attempt to kill the king multiple times, Akabe, along with the queen and friends Kien and Ela Lantec, go into hiding at the far ends of the kingdom. Yet even there, danger lurks. When the women are taken captive, will Akabe and Kien obey the Infinite and stay where they are or will they risk everything for the women they love? And will Ela and the queen follow the Infinite's orders to speak the truth no matter what may happen?

This is the conclusion to the Books of the Infinite Series. I've enjoyed both Prophet and Judge and was really looking forward to reading King. While I thought that Judge moved rather slowly, I was eager to delve into King. I was not disappointed in this book. Once again a mix of Old Testament prophets (I recognized some of Moses, some Samuel) as well as Old Testament kings (mainly David and Solomon) fill the pages of the book. My favorite character is still the destroyer-horse, Pet/Scythe, but the rest of the characters were engaging as well. I was thrilled to see that Ela and Kien finally got their happily ever after. And the storyline of the king and queen kept me reading to the end. I think of the three books in this series, this is the best, and my favorite.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, fantasy, RJ Larson, Byran Davis,

Rating - 4.5 stars which will round up to 5 stars

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daughter of Jerusalem Giveaway Winner

I'm back from my trip to Dallas. And it was wonderful. More to the point, I'm actually back in my apartment!!!!!Wohoooo!!!!

Look for a blog post in the next few days entitled... "A Princess, A Queen, and A Lady of the Realm". It'll have pictures from Seminar, including my fabulous prizes and things. But I have to write it first. :)

Anyway, using to pick a winner of the Daughter of Jerusalem book, the winner is:

Karen K!
 I have notified the winner.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dolled Up To Die - A Review

When assistant Private Investigator Cate Kinkaid receives a frantic call about three shooting victims, she just can't keep from investigating. Even though the agency's not supposed to investigate murder and this sounds like something the police should handle. As she investigates, she discovers that the victims are actually life-sized dolls. But soon a human body is found. Cate's suspects are starting to mount. There's an ex-wife, the current wife, the mother-in-law, and those who have worked with the victim at his businesses. Will Cate leave it to the police or will she solve the crime?

Every once in a while, I like a good mystery. Not a romantic suspense story, but an actual mystery. This second book in the Cate Kinkaid Files fits that bill. Cate is still a fun character. She's impulsive and has a tendency to speak first and think later. These tendencies drive her boyfriend Mitch crazy. But she's also genuine. She genuinely cares about the people she investigates. Cate's quirkiness as well as the rest of the cast of characters made this a fun, relaxing read. It's great for those who just want to relax and read a mystery.

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

Recommended to fans of cozy mysteries, Lorena McCourtney, Colleen Coble, Mary Nealy

Available July 2013 at your local bookstore from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Rating - 4 stars

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Daughter of Jerusalem - A Review & Giveaway

About the book (from Amazon)
She was a widow, a businesswoman, an adulteress.
In her lifetime, she knew murder, prejudice, and faith. She transformed from a Jewish girl longing for family to one of the closest friends of Jesus of Nazareth -- the Son of God.


In this fictionalized story of one of the Bible's most compelling women, New York Times best-selling author Joan Wolf beautifully recreates the history, romance, and tradition of Mary's world. Daughter of Jerusalem follows Mary's life from her first love through her loveless marriage, to the moment she heard of a miracle worker in her own town -- and ultimately to the moment she saw Him risen from the dead.

As this inspiring chronicle reminds us, Mary was the first to witness history's greatest moment. She was a woman who sought forgiveness for her sins, and a follower of God who yearned for a deeper faith. She was Jesus' beloved disciple. Read Mary Magdalene's story and find yourself in this remarkable woman's journey to discover the Kingdom of God.

My Thoughts
I've never read anything by Joan Wolf before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. In my own personal studies of the Scripture, I've discovered that not much is really know about who Mary Magdalene is other than the fact that she loved Jesus and He appeared to her first after His resurrection.

This particular book makes Mary Magdalene the Mary who is the sister of Martha and Lazarus. While I personally feel that Mary Magdalene was not their sister, I found myself engrossed in her story. From an early age she sought God. And even when her husband encouraged her to commit adultery, she wanted to resist because she knew it was wrong. But what I really loved about this book was that her sins were recognized, and she repented and sought forgiveness. Her encounter with Jesus changed her life forever.

Did I agree with everything that the author said? No I didn't. Did I find the book to be an enjoyable read? I did. In fact, I've got at least one other book by this author sitting in my to read pile and will be working it into my reading schedule. I found this to be one of the better books I've read about Mary Magdalene and one of the better Biblical fiction books I've ever read.

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

Recommended to fans of Brock & Bodie Thoene, Francine Rivers, Tessa Afshar, Mesu Andrews, Diana Wallis Taylor, Jill Eileen Smith, and Biblical fiction.

Rating - 4.5 stars which I'll round up to 5 stars.

The publisher has graciously provided me a copy to give away.

To enter, leave a comment telling me your favorite New Testament character other than Jesus and why that person is your favorite. For me, it's a toss up between Peter and Mary, the sister of Martha. I love Peter for being so gung ho about Jesus that he frequently doesn't think before he speaks. Yet Jesus loves him anyway. And I love Mary because she's at the feet of Jesus soaking up the knowledge He imparts. Makes me want to be like that.

Second entry for a comment telling me you follow my blog and how you follow it.

No additional entries for comments on reviews, though I love to read your comments.

This will end on July 27, and I'll pick a winner on the 28th.

I can only ship US.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Prairie Song - A Review

Anna Goben and her family have joined the wagon train leaving St. Charles, Missouri. Anna's thrilled at the chance to start over away from the pain of her brother's death. The fact that several of her quilting circle friends are on the trip as well is a bonus for her. Caleb Reger has signed on as a trail hand for the wagon train. He doesn't have time to be distracted by the young beauty that is Anna or the secrets she holds. He has his own secrets. As the trip commences, the two form a tentative friendship. Anna's determined to help her mother overcome her addiction and to protect her at any cost. Yet when Caleb discovers her mother's addiction and knows he can relate, he knows that unless he can talk with Anna, then the fragile relationship they've built will be torn apart. Will their love blossom or break as they travel West?

This is the first in a new series, The Hearts Seeking Home Series. It picks up where the novella series ends. The good thing about this is that Caroline and Garrett's story is continued and has a sense of closure to it. I know I wasn't happy in not getting a sense of closure in the Ripples Toward the Shore novella. This book offers the closure. Some of the characters were endearing. Some had their characters deepen as we'd already met them in the novella series. I'll admit that this book took me a LONG time to really engage into the story. Once I finally did (around page 100 or so), I was enchanted with the story telling. Growing up, I'd always loved to play the computer game Oregon Trail. To actually read about the hardships the travelers faced just in getting out of Missouri and really on the road was very interesting.

Will this book make my to read again list? I doubt it. I thought it turned into a sweet story, but it's not a must own for me. But I will also look forward to the next two books in the series.

I received an advance readers copy of this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, Mona Hodgson, Little House on the Prairie, Janette Oke, Mary Connealy, and gentle reads.

Rating - 3.5 stars, which will be rounded up to 4 stars on Amazon. This is mainly because I had closure for the story of Caroline and while it did take me a while to get into it, parts of the story redeemed it for me.

Please rank my review!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary - A Review

Lydia Eldridge is willing to do almost anything to keep her young son out of the clutches of his drug-addicted father. When her father tries to help her out by involving a college from her past, Lydia is reacquainted with Dr. Micah Hatcher. Micah arrives in Boston to set the record straight. Yet once there, he finds himself captivated by Nicky and his mother. Offering another solution to the problem, Micah returns to New York and his work among the immigrants. A search sends Lydia to New York where her path crosses Micah's again. She sees his work with the immigrants as well as the "packages" he receives on occasion. As the pair struggle to find a way that will allow Nicky to remain with those who love him, they realize that their callings are joining together as well - including Micah's secret calling. Will they learn to trust God in everything including the fates of Nicky and the immigrants?

I'm pretty sure that this was the first book I've read by Kim Vogel Sawyer. I loved the setting - WWII. There were times it took me a bit to get into the story, but a lot of that has to do with my not being in a reading mood. I think Nicky was my favorite character in the whole book. He's got such a cheerful personality and outlook on life. The other characters were well written, and I enjoyed them.

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

Recommend to fans of Renee Ryan, Janette Oke, Lauraine Snelling, Tracie Peterson, Beverly Lewis, WWII

Rating - 4 stars

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Anomaly - A Review

Years in the future, a Nuclear War has destroyed life on Earth. Yet there is a community of Scientists, known as the Ten, who have genetically engineered humans to be free of emotions in the hopes that another war can be prevented. Thalli is different than the others. She feels and reacts to emotions. So far she has managed to keep her feelings hidden from the Scientists. But when she reacts to an ancient piece of music she's asked to play, she suddenly finds herself facing annihilation. At the urging of a young Scientist and friend of Thalli's, she is granted a chance to live - if only to be studied. But as the experiments and simulations start to take place on her, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous and forbidden alliance. Thalli also discovers a Designer who may be even more powerful than the Scientists. Will Thalli's emotional outbursts put all of those she loves in danger including herself, or will there be an escape?

Having read Krista McGee's other books and enjoyed them, I was curious to see what this book would be about. It's VERY different than her other series. But I really enjoyed it. As I was reading it, I felt that it was an almost Hunger Games type of novel. And I saw the similarities between them immediately. The biggest difference, aside from the fact that this is a Christian fiction book, is that the characters are not in a competition for their lives. This had a society that has genetically altered humans to have no feelings. Any sicknesses (common colds, etc) are causes for immediate removal and Thalli is considered an anomaly because she doesn't accept the way that things are.

What I loved the best about this book was the relationships between Thalli and John and Thalli and Berk. I did not like that those who were different were removed from the society. I felt that that was too close to what Hitler tried to do during WWII. Don't get me wrong. Those removal scenes were in fact necessary for the reader to understand that the Scientists were manipulating the society and that there was something else out there for Thalli to believe in.

I did enjoy this book. I look forward to the next one in this series.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of the Hunger Games, Dystopian fiction, Krista McGee, Jenny B. Jones, young adult books

Rating - 4 stars

Signature picture is still under construction and will not be attached to this post. Please feel free to leave me a comment telling me what you think, if you liked it, want to read it, hated it, or just to tell me Hi.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Miracles happen if you believe

What an amazing month! Yesterday ended the Mary Kay year for me, and it was amazing. I've always heard over and over at Mary Kay events that June is the month of miracles and most of the miracles happen in the last 48 hours of the month. I never dreamed I'd see on happen to me.

One of the mirrored table lamps.

My biggest goal this past year was to be a consistent four quarter star consultant. Each quarter, I finished it up EARLY and not on the 15th of the month. And each quarter, I got a prize. The first quarter was a rustic iron blanket rack. The second quarter was a voucher for business supplies. The third quarter was a three piece tote bag, purse, and wristlet set. And for the fourth quarter I got a pair of beautiful mirrored table lamps.

I cannot wait to set them up on my nightstands by my bed! This month, at Seminar, I will have a special invitation to a special function for being a 4-quarter star consultant. And at that function, I will get to spin a wheel for an additional prize. I have no idea what prize I will get. I've been told there's everything from jewerly to electronics. So we'll just have to wait and see. Also, because I was a 4 quarter star consultant, I will be receiving a necklace with a star key on it.

At the end of May, my sales director, Laura, gave me my numbers for the year. I'd thought I was at about $12,000 retail, but I was wrong. I was actually closer to $16,000 or $17,000 - I don't remember which - and all of a sudden a new prize was within reach. That new prize was a chance to earn the National Princess Court of Sales for retail sales of $20,000 or higher. So I was between 3 and 4 thousand that I'd need to get in for the month. I set my goal for Princess Court and decided I was going to go for it. I knew I'd be placing an order around the 15th of the month that would move me up to the ruby level of star consultant. Once that order was placed, I had just a little over $2100 retail to do in 15 days. So I was going to work hard.

The jewerly that will be given at Seminar for earning Princess Court.

I let my customers know of some of the specials I had going on (discounts for coming to my meeting, etc). And I got to work calling, texting, emailing, meeting people, just going about my life. I had my eyes on the prize and I was going to work hard to reach it.

On June 12, I discovered a water leak in my apartment. Actually 3 leaks, and my apartment wanted me to pay for the damages because they were unable to get in to make the repairs. (Yes I'm a horrible house keeper and my apartment was a DISASTER!) So for the next several days, I was at the apartment tossing things out and cleaning up and just getting rid of things (hence the blog posts with books up for grabs) with the help of a friend and her teenage daughter. Truthfully, without my friend's help I'd never have gotten it finished. So my cat and I packed up the minimal things we'd need (litter box, cat food, cat carrier, clothes, etc) and headed over to my mother's. My mom was currently on vacation in Alaska and so we camped out there while repairs to my apartment got underway. Needless to say, we're still at my mom's as the apartment complex is still working on the apartment. The bathroom floor has been replaced and now they just need to do the sheetrock and I can move back in.

Yet, through being displaced, I still was working towards the goal of Princess Court. On June 22, I sent out several texts, emails, and Facebook messages to my customers asking for their help. I even did a blog post on the 23rd. I offered my customers a chance to be entered to win a pampering basket of goodies by spending $50 or more. Basically if a customer ordered $50, she got her name entered once, and then an additional time for every $50 past that. My customers responded. I had emails, texts, calls, and online orders coming in left and right. I'd write down what all they ordered on a sticky note, head to the apartment after work and pull the products and then plan my delivery trips. Because I was still working at my full time job and still reading books to review.

On morning of Saturday June 29, I'd gotten in $465.50 in sales since the texts were sent out on the 22nd and had no clue how the rest would come in the next couple of days. I went to my sales meeting that morning firmly believing that somehow, someway God would provide the amout that was left. My order was ready to go. I just needed the funds to show up in either my bank account or my propay account. With all of the sales and what was already in my bank account or propay account, I was sitting at $714.30. In short, I needed a miracle.

I arrived back at my apartment on Saturday morning after the sales meeting to check my mail. In my mail box was the typical stack of things - fliers, bills, a letter. Oh look a letter. I opened it up and I found a sweet note from one of my author friends that said "I believe in you. Use this to help finish your goal." The this was a check for $800. This author friend isn't a customer of mine. Just a friend who believes in me. I pretty much started crying right then. Because I knew God had just showed up in a really big way. So I stopped in the apartment office to pick up the package that was delivered on Friday (a book to review yay!) and to find out about when the sheetrock would be replaced. Then I headed over to the bank to deposit it into my account.

That $800 added to the total of $714.30 was pretty much the EXACT amount that I needed to finish. It was all in my bank account. On Sunday, I made a couple of product deliveries to people at church who wanted to pay via credit/debit card. So I get home from church, process their cards, and then place my order. My order ended up being $15 more than what I needed to complete Princess Court. Of course, I double checked my numbers about 10 times before hitting submit.

One thing I've learned through all of this is that God likes to do things in a BIG way. When it seems impossible, He moves in such a way that it can only be from Him. I didn't ask my friend to send a check. She just decided to do so.

The song lyrics (or at least part of them) from the song When You Believe by Whitney Houston kept playing through my mind.

There can be miracles
When you believe
Though hope is frail
It's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe somehow you will
You will when you believe
When you believe...Miracles happen. I am proof of that today.

So what is your miracle?