Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Starring Me

Kara McKormick is told she’s auditioning to star in a new teen variety show. But it’s what she isn’t told that could change her life.

The feisty New Yorker moves to sunny Orlando to participate in a month-long audition, where she’ll live with nine other contestants and an eccentric housemother. Kara knows that the show already has a big-time celebrity lined up for the co-host, but she doesn’t know who it is.

Chad Beacon quickly rose to fame after winning America’s Next Star, but he doesn’t want his entire career to be about singing. There is so much more he wants to do—like act. The new variety show sounds like the perfect next step for him, but his parents want him to have a co-star who shares his faith since they’ll be spending so much time together.

Acting is high on Kara’s priority list. But a relationship with God? Not so much. In fact, she’s tried to stay away from anything religious. But God is after Kara’s heart and He’s put people in her life who are showing her there’s far more to Christianity than rules and judgment.

And just when it seems that Kara’s going to have to give up her acting dream, God reveals that she may have a starring role after all—in a story so big only He could write it.

You may or may not remember that I loved the first book I read by Krista McGee, First Date. When I saw that I could request a complimentary copy of McGee's second book, Starring Me, through Thomas Nelson Publishing's Booksneeze Blogger program in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance. Starring Me is a continuation of the story started in First Date. The story is continued through the perspective of Addy Davidson's new best friend, Kara McCormick. Kara's dream is to become an actress and after her performance on Book of Love in First Date, she is contacted to audition for a variety show for teens. In her journey to find fame, she meets challenging people, challenging situations, and God. I enjoyed this book even more than First Date, and hope that McGee somehow continues the series. It would be interesting to get the perspective of Anna Grace, the "mean girl" in the two books.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Winning Balance

Twenty-year-old American gymnast Shawn Johnson is a four-time Olympic gold and silver medalist; a national- and world-champion athlete. Already a popular role model to all ages, in 2009 she captured the national spotlight again when she won the widely popular Dancing with the Stars. Yet Shawn is no stranger to hard work and adversity. Her loss of the major gymnastics prize everyone expected her to win in Beijing, the all-around Olympic gold medal, was the loss of a dream she’d worked for since childhood. And later, she suffered a potentially career-ending injury in a skiing accident that forced her life to a halt and made her rethink what was really important. She wasn’t sure who she was anymore. She wasn’t sure what her goals were. And she wasn’t sure she was satisfied with where she was with her faith and God. Could she find the right kind of success in life—the kind that doesn’t involve medals or trophies, but peace, love, and lasting joy? This is the amazing true journey of how the young woman who won an Olympic gold medal on the balance beam became even more balanced.

Do you know what it takes to become a gold medal winning Olympic gymnast? Shawn Johnson does, and she brings us down the journey she traveled on in her quest for the gold. Shawn's ultimate goal was just out of reach, but this caused her to learn more about life, disappointment, and faith than anything in her life thus far. I loved watching Shawn perform in the Olympics, so when Tyndale announced that I could receive a complimentary copy of her first book in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance. Shawn was able to write her book in just the honest, open way I imagine she is with her friends. I truly enjoyed her book. 

The Corruptible

How much money would it take for you to betray the truth?
Ex-homicide detective Ray Quinn never had glamorous thoughts of the life of a private investigator—but being cornered in a bathroom stall by the enraged philandering husband of a client? That’s something he could live without. Retired from homicide and living with a painful disability, Ray’s options are limited. Stick to the job, keep impetuous sidekick Crevis alive, and spend quiet evenings with trusted pal Jim Beam, that’s about the best he can hope for.
As a new client emerges, Ray finds himself in an impossibly large boardroom holding a check with enough zeros to finally lift him from his financial pit. The job seems easy enough: find Logan Ramsey, an ex-cop turned security officer who’s taken off with sensitive corporate information. But few things are easy in Ray’s world, regardless of the amount of zeros in the check.
In what should be an open-and-shut case, Ray stumbles across Logan Ramsey in a seedy motel room. Only Ray wasn’t the first to find him. Now Logan’s dead, the client’s information is nowhere to be found, and Ray’s employer is less than forthcoming with the details. Suddenly the line between the good guys and bad guys isn’t so clear. With a foot in both worlds and an illuminating look at an unhappy ending that could well be his own, which will Ray choose?
 I received a complimentary copy of the eBook, The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir through Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing's Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

I have always enjoyed a good mystery, and Mynheir is certainly one to deliver. I found The Corruptible to not only be a great story, but one that kept me guessing until the end. The final outcome wasn't a transparent conclusion, but one that clearly took a lot of thought and planning. If you have ever read a Kinsey Milhone mystery by Sue Grafton, I would compare The Corruptible to that series. The Ray Quinn series has a male lead, and a Christian perspective in one of the characters, but it similar in most other ways. The writing was wonderful, and matched the storyline perfectly. The reader was given significant detail in every aspect of the story, but the author never gave too much detail, boring the reader or giving away too many clues. I am excited to be introduced to a new (to me) mystery series, which I plan to read through to the end.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Lily Series: The Beauty Book

Learn with Lily and her friends just what it means to be beautiful in God’s eyes—inside and out!
In a society so focused on the idea that external beauty reigns supreme, it can be difficult for young girls to figure out what “true” beauty is all about. This unique and creative book for girls ages 7–11 answers the common questions girls ask during this often confusing and overwhelming stage in their lives in an inviting and conversational manner.
Filled with fun quizzes, imaginative activities, and cool illustrations, The Beauty Book offers cool, relevant information about everything from great hair styles to tattoos, from skin care to clothes, and much more. Above all, the message that God-confidence is beautiful is highlighted on each and every page.

I downloaded a complimentary copy of Nancy Rue's The Lily Series; The Beauty Book through Thomas Nelson Publishing's Booksneeze Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.
While I sincerely enjoy Nancy Rue's characters in The Lily Series, I did not enjoy this book as much as the last one that I read, Here's Lily. I think that is simply because this book is not a story, but almost a self-help style book. Rue has parts of the book that her characters write, and parts that are "answers" to the characters' concerns. I think that a tween girl with self confidence issues would probably appreciate this book. I am looking forward to the next story involving the Lily Series characters.