Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daily Gifts of Grace

From the publisher:
Women of Faith speakers share insight, advice, laughter, and maybe even a few tears in this daily devotional. Voices from fiction, recognizable names from Christian conferences, and well-known Christian writers also are included.
Daily Gifts of Grace is a daily devotional designed specifically for women, with a beautiful hardbound case and a magnetic closure. Readers will be pleased to open it for a devotion that will help them face the day or for an inspirational devotion to close the day.
Contributors include Joni Eareckson Tada, Lisa Whelchel, Jenna Lucado, Sheila Walsh, Kim Cash Tate, Patsy Clairmont, Natalie Grant, Lisa Harper, and others.

A year or so ago Lisa Whelchel came to speak at my church. It was an all day event, and I wondered if I would be able to "sit through" so much lecture. Lisa was dynamic, interesting, and funny. It was like a good friend was up there talking just to me~despite the huge crowd of women listening with me. Our church and many neighboring churches contributed to bringing her to our town, and they all started her Bible Study, The Busy Mom's Guide to Bible Study following her visit. I joined one of the studies and enjoyed it. She was about to release her book, Friendship for Grownups, and I couldn't wait to read it. I started following her on Twitter and that's how I found out about the Booksneeze blogger program. She tweeted the her book was available for free through the program and I joined to get it. It was my first Booksneeze review. I loved her book, and when I saw that she was one of the contributing authors to Daily Gifts of Grace, Devotions for Each Day of Your Year, I knew I would most likely enjoy the book. I recognized a few of the other names also, and decided to give it a try. 

Each daily devotional starts with a Bible passage and is followed by a story, metaphor, or thought by one of the contributing authors. The writing is followed by a short prayer. I enjoyed them because although they are short enough to read quickly (I have three kids three and under, a full time job, and grad school), the are deep enough to be thought provoking. In addition, they invite the reader to dig deeper into the scripture that is quoted at the beginning of the daily writing. I look forward to starting the book over and digging deeper throughout the coming year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Thomas Nelson Publishing Booksneeze blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

First Date

Addy Davidson is the last girl in the country who wants to be on the new reality TV show to win a date to prom with the President’s son. She’s focused on her schoolwork so she can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college, uncomfortable in the spotlight, never been on a date, and didn’t even audition for it.
But she got selected anyway.
So she does her best to get eliminated on the very first show… right before she realizes that the President’s son is possibly the most attractive guy she has ever seen in person, surprisingly nice, and seemingly unimpressed by the 99 other girls who are throwing themselves at him.
Addy’s totally out of her comfort zone—but that may be right where God can show her the most about who she is . . . and who she was meant to be.

 When I read the summary of this book on Booksneeze's website, I though it sounded like a great book. When I finally finished my last book and found First Date on the list of available eBook titles, I was excited. There were only two reviews for it, but it only average 2 1/2 stars which made me a little weary, but I requested it anyway. I am so glad I did! I loved this book. 

The "good guy" characters a loving and sweet, causing the reader to root for them to succeed. The "mean girls" (and guy) are mean enough that at the beginning, the reader wants them to fail, but after walking with Addy and seeing her lovingly reach out to them we're left kind of rooting for them too. The book has a cute storyline and is fast-paced enough to keep the reader interested without moving too quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and hope to read more from Krista McGee in the future.

 I received a complimentary copy of First Date through Thomas Nelson Publishing's Booksneeze blogging program in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bittersweet Surrender

Carly Westlake is living the dream. She spends her days at a spa (okay, so she owns the place), she's dating a hunk, and she's surrounded by chocolate—milk chocolate, her favorite—that she uses for the chocolate facials that made her spa famous.
But when long buried secrets threaten Carly's business and her friendship with business-partner Scott, she fights like crazy to keep the dream—and the illusions—afloat.
It takes a miracle of grace to get Carly to finally make that bittersweet surrender to love and real life.

 I received a complimentary eBook of Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt through the Thomas Nelson Publishing Booksneeze blogger program in exchange for a review. I was not required to provide a positive review and all opinions are my own. 

Bittersweet Surrender started out a bit slow for me. However, the buildup was needed to provide enough information about the characters and situations to make the ending as worthwhile as it is. This book is a perfect example of the tangled web that lies create, and also of the grace that God provides. Carly feels like she is broken both physically because of breast cancer and emotionally because of her husband leaving her when she needed him most. Another character in the book sees her as beautiful inside and out, and reminds her that Jesus sees her that way too. The book is set in a town that neighbors Smitten, a town that Hunt co-wrote a book about with three other authors. It was fun to read references to the other book too.

Princess Stories

Princess Stories is the big sister to popular board book My Princess Bible. Princess Stories, appropriate for girls ages 4 to 8, is a collection of first-person narrative stories about 29 women in the Bible—and the 30th story is about the reader, who is God's princess too.

In each four-page story, the reader gets a rhyming verse about the princess (addressed to "Mirror, mirror on the wall"), a first-person story of the featured Bible woman and the special quality her life reflects, a Bible verse from another passage of Scripture that summarizes/relates to the character trait, and Princess Ponderings—questions that help girls and their parents discuss the stories and relate the lessons to life.

Through this book, girls will learn more in-depth stories of women of the Bible and how to apply Scripture to their own lives.

I received a complimentary copy of Princess Stories by Carolyn Larsen through the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for a review. I was not required to provide a positive review and all opinions are my own.

This is a cute book about the women of the Bible, designed to capitalize on society's infatuation with the Disney princesses. I enjoyed the format of the book, using a "Mirror Mirror" poem at the beginning of reach story is a nice way to draw the kids into the story. Changing to the princess' point of view allows the children to feel like the character is more real than it would be in a third person storyline. The last page for each princess has three discussion questions that the parent/guardian can talk with the kid(s) about after each story, helping to bring the story into real life and the child's life. My girls are 3 and 2, and this is a little bit beyond them right now. I'd say that if would be much better suited for children 5 and up.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Harvest of Grace

Reeling from an unexpected betrayal, can Sylvia find relief from the echoes of her past…or will they shape her future forever?

Although Sylvia Fisher recognizes that most Old Order Amish women her age spend their hours managing a household and raising babies, she has just one focus—tending and nurturing the herd on her family’s dairy farm. But when a dangerous connection with an old beau forces her to move far from home, she decides to concentrate on a new start and pour her energy into reviving another family’s debt-ridden farm.

After months in rehab, Aaron Blank returns home to sell his Daed’s failing farm and move his parents into an easier lifestyle. Two things stand in his way: the father who stubbornly refuses to recognize that Aaron has changed and the determined new farmhand his parents love like a daughter. Her influence on Aaron’s parents could ruin his plans to escape the burdens of farming and build a new life.

Can Aaron and Sylvia find common ground? Or will their unflinching efforts toward opposite goals blur the bigger picture— a path to forgiveness, glimpses of grace, and the promise of love.

I received a complimentary copy of Cindy Woodsmall's The Harvest of Grace; an Ada's House Novel through the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books blogger program in exchange for a review. I am not required to provide a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

This book was excellent. I can honestly say that something happens towards the beginning of the novel that made my jaw drop! I don't think that has ever happened to me. They betrayal that Sylvia has to endure is beyond anything that I expected. The healing and grace that is depicted within this novel is completely moving. I enjoy Amish fiction, but this book truely is a notch above all others that I have read. I think I need to go out and get the Ada's House books from before this, even though I know the outcome of them through the characters in this one. Definately a well-deserved 5 starts out of 5.

Heart of Ice

The Triple Threat Club novels follow three fiercely intelligent women—a TV reporter, a Federal prosecutor and an FBI agent—as they investigate crimes as current as today’s headlines.

The Triple Threat women have faced intense situations before…but never such a cunningly cold-blooded murderer.

Elizabeth Avery is a stunningly beautiful woman. But her perfectly managed exterior hides the ice cold heart of a killer. She ingeniously manipulates everyone who crosses her path to do exactly as she wishes--from crime reporter Cassidy Shaw, who thinks Elizabeth is her new best friend, to a shy young man Elizabeth persuades to kill for her.

As Elizabeth leaves a trail of bodies in her wake, Federal prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI agent Nicole Hedges must piece together clues from seemingly unrelated crimes. Can they stop her before she reaches her unthinkable, ultimate end-game?

I received a complimentary copy of Lis Wiehl's Heart of Ice throught the Thomas Nelson Publishing Booksneeze blogger program in exchange for a review. I am not required to provide a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Heart of Ice is a book that will leave you wanting to know what happens next with every turn of the page. It is a Christian based crime novel that shows the story from many different persepectives at one time. The reader knows "who done it" all along, yet determining how the crime experts will put the pieces together is a mystery. In addition to the sometimes mind boggling crimes that are being committed, one of the main characters goes through a tragic life experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, storyline, and style of writing of Heart of Ice. The author kept the story going really well, and came to a satisfying conclusion. There are enough strings left untied to make the reader want to grab the next book in the series as soon as it is available, yet there are also enough strings tied up to not cause the reader to feel left in the cold at the conclusion of the book. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Four friends devise a plan to turn Smitten, Vermont, into the country's premier romantic getaway-and each finds her own true love along the way.

With Smitten Lumber closing, residents wonder if their town can stay afloat. Then four friends and local business owners-Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese--decide the town is worth saving. How will they do it? They'll turn Smitten into a honeymoon destination!

As Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese work to save the town, each discovers romance in her own life. Meanwhile, the faith of a little child reminds the whole town what it means to have real faith in the God who is the always and forever Love.

Discover a novel written by four of Christian fiction's most popular romance novelists- friends in real life who've drawn an amazing story of four friends! Includes a Reading Group Guide as well as "Conversation over Coffee with the Authors".

"Smitten" is the perfect novel for a hopeless romantic. Written by four talented authors, each took the tale from a different woman's perspective and continued the story where the previous author left off. Readers begin with Natalie and walk with her as she begins the process of transforming Smitten into a lover's destination. The story continues with each of her friends in turn as each woman contributes to the town's transformation and also magically falls in love herself. I enjoyed this book, but did get a litte weary of the predictible way that each woman was certainly going to end up with the man of her dreams by the end of her chapter. However, I expected that going in, with a book entitled "Smitten," that is about making a city into a romantic getaway! All in all, it was a decent book and I enjoyed it.

I received a complimentary copy of "Smitten" through the Thomas Nelson Publisher's Booksneeze blogger program in exchange for a review. I was not required to provide a positive review, and all opinions are my own.