Friday, December 28, 2012

"You, Your Family, and the Internet" Blog Tour

From the Publisher: How may Christians better understand the dangers and opportunities offered by the Internet? Written by an expert in the field, You, Your Family, and the Internet explains and illustrates what the technologies are and guides readers to draw on biblical principles such as self-control and accountability and apply them to the possible dangers at hand. It also encourages believers to make the best use of opportunities that arise from judicious use of the World Wide Web.

For more information about this book or to purchase, please click here.

About the Author: David Clark was born and brought up in a missionary family working in France. A Bible believing Christian since the age of 15, he is active in his local Evangelical and Reformed church in England, where he lives after spending a number of years in the USA. He has worked with computer technology for over 30 years, has a degree in Computer Science and Electronics, and carried out Postgraduate research into the uses of Artificial Intelligence in the design of silicon chips. He owns and runs a consultancy company that carries out technology related work for the UK and US governments. He has published a number of technical papers at various conferences, ranging from the use of Artificial Intelligence, to Risk Analysis. He has also served on the boards of Evangelical Times and Evangelical Press, as well as working in publishing in the Russian and Chinese languages.

My Take:

For this review, I am going to let my husband, the IT guy, give his take on the book.
As an IT professional, I know how dangerous and how useful the Internet can be.  As a father of a three-year-old, I tend to focus on the dangers and wonder how to protect her while still allowing her to use one of the most powerful tools in the history of mankind.  David Clark gives some excellent advice on how to find a good balance between caution and usefulness.
Many books that I have read about Internet safety tend to have two main problems.  The first is to focus almost (if not exclusively) on the dangers of the Internet.  And, to be fair, the Internet can be a very dangerous place.  But, this book also explains how powerful and useful the Internet is.  It was very refreshing to read a book about using technology that wasn’t all doom and gloom.

The second problem that most books about the Internet tend to have is that they offers solutions of extremes.  A common example is with online pornography.  Other books will extol the dangers and evils of online pornography and suggest that the solution to an addiction is to stop using the Internet.  Today, that just isn’t a practical solution.  And, if you doubt it, I challenge you to try to go an entire day without accessing the Internet.  I imagine some of you might be able to do it for a day, but can you do it for a week?  No web pages, no email, no Facebook, no Google, no Smartphones – no Internet just isn’t a practical solution in this day and age.  David Clark is aware enough to know that.  He explains the dangers found online and calmly suggests reasonable solutions of how to avoid them.
As a father and an IT professional who works on computers all day, I highly recommend this book.  It is a great read for people of all levels of computer knowledge and an eye opener for all. 

I will give You, Your Family, and the Internet … 4 BookWorms.
Thanks, honey! I agree with everything you said! J

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Twice a Bride" Review

When Willow Peterson settles in the town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1898, she does so in hopes of moving on with her life. Widowed at a young age, Willow now decides to set out on her own to follow her dream of being a painter.

Trenton Van Der Veer is also a newcomer to Cripple Creek. He, too, is moving on with his life, and he hopes opening a photography shop will be the first step in this new direction. When he is encouraged to hire a portrait painter to supplement his line of photography services, he finds a young woman, Willow Peterson, who is perfect for the job.

As Trenton and Willow get to know each other as employer/employee and as friends, they each wonder if their friendship might lead to something more. There are always surprises in the ever-growing town of Cripple Creek, and unexpected visitors might just lead to romance for some and the end of a newly-formed friendship for others.

The final book in the Sisters of Cripple Creek series, Twice a Bride thoroughly explores life’s unexpected turns and how a loving God will lead all the way.

When I finished the previous book in the Cripple Creek series, The Bride Wore Blue, I was so excited to find that there would be another book to finish out the series.

In Twice a Bride, the reader mostly follows Willow Peterson, who is Tucker Raines’s sister and who is therefore a sister-in-law to one of the Sinclair sisters, Ida. If you are totally confused by all of these people because you have not read the previous three books, then you definitely need to start at the beginning of the series! If you start reading this one without reading the others, you will be hopelessly lost and will not enjoy the book as much. There are a lot of characters in this book and in the series, and it even took me a while to be able to keep everyone straight again.
Speaking of the characters, I really liked the ones in this series. Even though there are a lot of them, I have enjoyed them and been able to relate to them. They are not perfect, but they strive to live their lives according to God’s Word and with His leading. There are some very tough situations and circumstances encountered in these books, especially in Twice a Bride, but through it all, they always have hope and faith in God.

I especially liked Willow and Trenton in this novel. Their relationship formed in an interesting way, and even though their romance was somewhat of a whirlwind, it was still convincing. I also liked the love interest for Miss Hattie. It was neat to see her side of the story a little bit more.

All of the sisters from the series are included in this novel, which made for a lot of scene changes and “head-hopping.” While I enjoyed getting so many points of view, it did get confusing at times. I also thought that some of the dialogue in this novel was a bit odd. I’m not sure if I remember this from the previous novels, but there would be times when someone would say something to someone or ask a question, and the other person didn’t really seem to give an appropriate answer or would seem to ignore them. It was almost as if I was sometimes waiting for the next sentence, and then I would turn the page to a scene change.

The thing I liked the most in this novel and in this series is how the author focused on the characters’ faith in Christ and how they used His Word to guide their lives. This was done so well in this novel. If you have read any of my previous reviews lately, you know that this is something that I think is missing from many Christian fiction books. I applaud Mona Hodgson for not shying away from using the name of Jesus in her novels.

Even though I think my favorite in this series was The Bride Wore Blue, I still enjoyed Twice a Bride. It had a lot of what I love about Christian historical fiction. It also had a very satisfying ending – for this book and for the entire series.

I will give Twice a Bride … 4 Bookworms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Every Perfect Gift" Review

When Sophie Robillard returns to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in 1886, she does not know what kind of reception to expect. She spent the last 15 years with Wyatt and Ada Caldwell on their ranch in Texas as well as learning the ropes of the newspaper business in Dallas. Sophie’s reason for returning to Hickory Ridge is to reopen the small town newspaper. While she realizes the task at hand will be difficult, she is even more concerned about the rejection she might face upon her return to the town that, because of her unknown background, shunned her as a child.

Ethan Heyward recently arrived in Hickory Ridge to oversee the building of a luxury resort, which is being financed by his long-time employer, millionaire Horace Blakely. When the local newspaper reporter interviews him about the resort, Ethan is immediately drawn to her. But Ethan holds secrets from his own past, and they may catch up with him sooner than he thinks.
Both Ethan and Sophie have spent years guarding their hearts and their secrets. Will they have the courage to overcome their pasts and recognize the gift God has given them for their futures?

After finishing the previous book in the Hickory Ridge series, Beauty for Ashes, I was looking forward to reading this next offering. There were a few things left hanging in the previous book that left me wanting to continue with the story of this small Tennessee town.
As I have said in my previous reviews of the books in this series, I grew up in a small town in Tennessee that would be in the same area as what is described in this book. The setting and the scenery and the people came alive for me and were endearing.

Even though I loved the small town setting and people of this book, there are a lot of minor characters to keep straight. You definitely need to read these books in order. Even though I did, I found myself being confused by who was who and what their stories were several times throughout this book. It has been a year and a half since I read the first book which introduced Sophie and her story, so I sometimes struggled to remember previous events that were brought up again in this novel. I think I mentioned this in a previous review, but it would have been nice to have a character list in the front of this one in order to keep everyone straight. (I am assuming the finished publication did not have this – I had an advance copy, so I don’t know what the final product will look like).
Once I got reacquainted with Sophie, I enjoyed her story in this novel. The issues she faced as a child were heartbreaking, and her continued dealings with these prejudices as an adult were equally tragic. While I was not able to completely relate to her sufferings, I still felt for her and was encouraged by her continued growth and reliance on God throughout the novel.

I also liked the character of Ethan, but I didn’t feel as if I got to know him as well. Part of this was probably due to the fact that Sophie’s character had been in the other books. However, I think the other reason was that the reader was not clued into Ethan’s past early on in this book. Bits and pieces were revealed here and there, but since I didn’t understand where he was coming from until it was explained towards the end, then I didn’t feel as much of a connection to him. I did like Sophie and Ethan together, though, and Ethan’s story was interesting once it got going.
I enjoyed the relationship between Sophie and Ethan, but in some ways I enjoyed one of the side stories even more. There is a secondary character, Sabrina Gilman, a nurse, who spends her time lobbying for a small clinic to be started in the town so that she and the town’s doctor will have more opportunities to treat patients. Since I have a science background, this story intrigued me almost more than Sophie’s newspaper story. It is not that the newspaper story or the relationship between Sophie and Ethan was not interesting; I just liked the medical side of Sabrina’s story a bit better.

Although I liked this book (as well as the others in the series), and I liked the ending, to me it still seemed as if there were a couple of things that needed to be wrapped up. I don’t always like epilogues in novels, but I thought this book would have benefitted from one. I don’t want to say too much here, but it would have been nice to know what might have happened in some of the characters’ lives in the future.
Overall, I really enjoyed this Hickory Ridge series. Although I think the second novel in the series was my favorite, Every Perfect Gift was a nice read with a great message of embracing the wonderful gifts God gives to everyone who trusts in Him.

I will give Every Perfect Gift … 3 ½ BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, December 17, 2012

"The Hidden Life" Review

Emma Stolzfus has never been courted or kissed, and now that she’s 30, it has become her place as the unmarried daughter to look after her elderly mother. But in the dark hours when her mother is asleep, Emma writes letters and essays to Amish periodicals, short stories, and even a novel she’s been working on for the last five years.

When a New York literary agent, Tyler West, takes an interest in her work, Emma secretly goes to meet him. When she returns, something about her is different – and the men of her Amish community take notice. But how can she settle for second best when her heart made its choice years ago-to a man she can never have?
Only her friends, Amelia and Carrie, know the truth in her heart as they work together on their quilt … and only they understand when an old tragedy comes to light that will either hurt or heal … and reveal Emma’s hidden life.

The Hidden Life, Adina Senft [link]
Published by FaithWords: June 26, 2012

This is the second novel in the Amish Quilt series. The first is The Wounded Heart.

This novel also contains Part Two of the quilt instructions for the Crosses and Losses quilt that was begun in the first book in the series.
About the Author:

Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church and was often asked if she was Amish. (The answer was no.) She holds an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she is part of the adjunct faculty. Between books, Adina enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making historical costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.


My Take:

The first book in the ‘Amish Quilt’ series focused on Amelia, but this second offering follows Emma and her bumpy path to find true love. I liked Amelia in the first book, but I think I actually liked Emma even more. She kind of walks along the edge of what is considered acceptable for a good Amish women with her writing and her ability to sometimes say too much or to say it bluntly. I liked the fact that Emma realized that God had given her the gift of writing and that she needed to use it, even if those in authority might frown upon it.
I also liked Grant Weaver in this book, but since the story is only told from Emma’s point of view, I didn’t really get to know him as well as I might have liked. Since this is an Amish community, there are, of course, a lot of secondary characters to keep up with. Emma’s sister Karen was maddening, I thought, but it was really neat to see how well Emma handled herself in response to her prickly sister. It made me think about how I would sometimes do better to hold my tongue around certain people.
As is said in my review of the first book in the series, The Wounded Heart, when I read Amish novels, I tend to get too focused on the doctrine of the Amish church (which I obviously do not completely agree with, since I am not Amish) instead of just enjoying the story. This was especially true in this novel when it came to the references that one can lose his/her salvation. This was said in the context of leaving the Amish community – that when you go away from the ‘people of God’ you risk your eternal hope. It just makes me wonder what other people think when they read Amish novels that say this. I mean, I’m not Amish, but I do have an eternal hope. Christ is my Savior, my only hope of salvation, and nothing can separate me from that. But I am not a part of the Amish community, so how does that coincide?
I also was bothered by the tremendous amount of gossip and judgmental attitudes that existed in this fictional Amish community. I have heard jokes about the “Amish grapevine” being the best way to spread news in a community, but the gossip in this novel was just too much. It’s one thing to share news with your friends (i.e., Mary had her baby, or we think there will be lots of weddings this fall, or John fell when working on his roof last week), but to whisper and speculate to others in a cruel and judgmental attitude is not Christ-like. There was a quote in this book that I did like that said, “Little birds would do better to pay attention to their own nests and not chatter about other people. Gossip is a sin.” I totally agree with this, but apart from the three friends in this story (Emma, Carrie, and Amelia), there was no one else in the book who seemed to follow this. Emma was chastised by so many people for just having ice cream with a man, but no one is called out in this community for their sin of gossiping about it. This was just something that was hard for me to read in this novel. I like to read historical and Amish novels not just to be entertained but to learn something, and this book left me with a bad view of the Amish when it comes to not gossiping but extending grace to others.
Overall I thought this story was interesting, especially when it revolved around Emma and her writing. There were a few things that kept me from enjoying it fully, but I still look forward to finishing this series next year.
I will give The Hidden Life … 3 BookWorms.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from FaithWords/Hachette Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Lovelier than Daylight" Review

Susanna Hanby arrives at her sister Rachel’s home expecting to spend some time with her before heading back to Otterbein College in the fall. But what she finds at her sister’s home is far from expected. Rachel and her children have disappeared, and her alcoholic husband, George, is not talking. Desperate to learn the truth, Susanna departs for Westerville, Ohio, earlier than expected and elicits the help of her aunt and uncle, Ann & Will Hanby.

The son of a successful German brewer, Johann Giere is expected to take over the family business. But what he really wants is to be in journalism. When he encounters the beautiful and feisty Susanna Hanby while delivering a supply of lager to a new saloon in Westerville, Johann is intrigued, both with Susanna and with the story of the temperance movement in Westerville.

Susanna and Johann form an incongruous friendship while the temperance battle wages all around them – and they seem to be on opposing sides. When Susanna finds herself in need of Johann’s help in rescuing her nieces and nephews, she must decide whether she should follow her head or her heart.

Lovelier than Daylight is a fictional story based on the Westerville Whiskey War of 1875, and is the third and final book in the Saddler’s Legacy series by Rosslyn Elliott.

When I read the first book in the Saddler’s Legacy series, Fairer than Morning, I was completely captivated. It was the best Christian Historical Fiction book I had read in a long time. I equally enjoyed the next in the series, Sweeter than Birdsong, which is why I was really looking forward to this final book in the series.

I really don’t think that Lovelier than Daylight quite captivated me as much as the first two, but it was still excellent.

This book got my attention right off the bat when Susanna arrives at Rachel’s home and discovers (according to her drunk husband George) that Rachel left town and place the children in an orphanage. After Susanna travels to Westerville, however, the story slowed way down for me. I liked Johann right away, and I appreciated the set up that was given to the situation that was going on in Westerville. But for some reason it still seemed to drag. Once I got about a third to half of the way through the book, though, I couldn’t put it down.

There is a lot going on in this novel, even during the times that it seemed slow. This is especially true when it comes to some very thought-provoking issues such as drinking alcohol (the difference between enjoying an alcoholic beverage and getting drunk) and the temperance movement (protesting peacefully versus using acts of violence). I thought that the author did a great job of showing both sides of the issues without being too heavy-handed towards one or the other. Ultimately, however, the mercy, grace, and love of Christ and the wisdom of the Scriptures shone through as the best way to handle tough issues in our lives.

The characters in this novel were well thought out and likeable. I enjoyed the return of Will and Ann Hanby, and I really liked Johann, even though he came across as squeaky clean, in my opinion. He did have a few flaws that came out here and there, but it was ultimately Susanna who experienced the most growth. I really related to her thoughts and feelings, especially as it related to her demand for righteousness. She realizes that the things of the world have not been broken by a lack of righteousness, necessarily, but because of a lack of love. In other words, instead of always expecting legalistic morality from others, she should be extending mercy and grace and showing love to others just as Christ did.

Once the action got going in this novel, there was no slowing down. So many things happened to these poor people (on both sides of the issue) that I kept thinking that surely some part of the story has to have a good ending. It was so heartbreaking to read about Susanna’s nieces and nephews and their plight living in the orphanages and about the families who were so dramatically affected by alcoholism. Fortunately, when I did get to the end, I was very satisfied with how the book and the entire series wrapped up.

As I said before, I was not as engrossed in this novel as much as I was the first two in the series, but it was still a wonderful book. I look forward to the next series/novel from Rosslyn Elliott with great anticipation.

I will give Lovelier than Daylight … 4 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Betrayal" Review and Giveaway!

Second in the "Where the Heart Lives" series by Robin Lee Hatcher

Can two wounded hearts find a way to trust again?
Julia Grace has no desire to enter into another marriage. But with her dead husband’s half brother threatening to take away her Wyoming ranch, Julia realizes that she must fight for what is hers.
A man well acquainted with betrayal, drifter Hugh Brennan finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia Grace, who gave him a place to stay and work as he makes his journey to find his long-lost sisters. And when he looks into Julia’s eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.
A thoughtful romance from the turn of the twentieth century, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming and into the souls of two seekers learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.

For more information on this title, please click here.

(Summary taken mostly from the back of the book with a few additions/changes from me.)

About the Author:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of over sixty books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin currently resides in Idaho. For more information, visit

My Take:

Last year about this time I reviewed the first book in this series, Belonging. I liked the novel, especially the way the author wove the characters’ commitment to God and the Bible so well into their everyday lives. I liked the story in Belonging, but I liked the story in this next one in the series, Betrayal, even better.

Once again, the author did a great job making the characters’ faith real and relatable. While I might not have experienced exactly what Julia and Hugh had experienced, I was still able to relate to their thoughts and feelings, especially as it related to their faith in God. I really, really appreciated how the Bible was woven into the characters’ lives. Julia and Hugh were not perfect, but when they lacked faith or went through trials, they did their best to focus on what is true from the Word of God. They did not long neglect praying to their Father and reading His Word, especially when they faced difficult times.
Some might think that this book is preachy – that it didn’t have enough balance between Christian themes and real life. But I think that is what was so great about this book. Our lives aren’t compartmentalized – God and His Word should permeate our entire beings – and I think the author did really well with that in this novel. It truly is Christian historical fiction.

As far as the story, I really enjoyed this one. The things Hugh and Julia had been through at times were heart-wrenching to read and to think about, but there always seemed to be a sense of hope through it all. Even though the storylines were deep emotionally, I didn’t feel depressed as I was reading. I also thought their romance progressed in a realistic manner and was really sweet.
As is often true in historical fiction, I could mostly see where things were going, but there actually was a bit of a surprise for me at the end. I liked that this book didn’t have as many characters to keep straight as the last book in the series did. I also enjoyed the point of view of Julia’s neighbors, although I’m not sure if it was completely necessary. I guess it did seem to keep the flow going when the novel seemed to slow down a bit towards the middle. (The names of the neighbors’ ten kids were interesting, if a bit quirky – starting with an ‘A’ name and going through a ‘J’ name. I’m not sure I would ever name my baby girl Gomer, though, even if it is in the Bible…!)

I thought Betrayal was a great second offering in the “Where the Heart Lives” series.
I will give it … 4 BookWorms.

The Giveaway:

Zondervan Publishing has graciously offered me a copy of each of the books in the “Where the Heart Lives” series by Robin Lee Hatcher! Enter below to win a print copy of both Belonging AND Betrayal!
The contest starts now and will run through Wednesday, December 19th. I will randomly select a winner and announce it here on my blog on Thursday, December 20th. Good luck!

(Contest open to U.S. residents only, please)

Congratulations to the winner of the two books, Belonging and Betrayal...

Christine B.!

I will be contacting the winner by email.
Thanks to all who entered!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Short-Straw Bride" Review

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride.

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.

Years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.

Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

Find more information about this title here.

And check out the video promo!

My Take:

As I have said before, I am a sucker for marriage of convenience stories. This plot is very popular in the Christian historical fiction genre, but I love it, and I like seeing how authors come up with new and interesting ways for the couples to have to get married.

This was one thing about Short-Straw Bride that I liked. The situation that Meredith and Travis found themselves in was intriguing, especially since they each secretly had absolutely no problem being married to the other. Even though Christian historical fiction books, and especially marriage of convenience stories, have a formula to them, I still like them.
Even though I liked the overall concept of the story, there were some things about Short-Straw Bride that made me just not like it as much as the previous novels by Karen Witemeyer. One of these things was that instead of being confident and quirky, I just found Meredith to be immature and annoying. I seem to be in the minority here, based on other reviews that I have read, but I thought Meredith came off as being foolish and stubborn instead of strong and independent. Since I really, really enjoyed and related to the main female characters in each of the past Karen Witemeyer books I have read – ATailor-Made Bride and To Win HerHeart – I was disappointed that I didn’t have much of a connection with Meredith.

I have often mentioned that sometimes romance novels make me roll my eyes over how dreamy and starry-eyed the characters are. For some reason, this tends to be true for me more in contemporary novels rather than historical ones. Maybe that is because I tend to like more of a fairy-tale aspect to historical fiction than I do in contemporary fiction. Whatever the case, I was disappointed that this novel made me roll my eyes at times. I just couldn’t believe that Meredith would have such an infatuation over some guy she met for a few hours when she was 10 years old. The ‘big, strong, handsome hunk of man having to come rescue the damsel in distress’ bit also had me rolling the eyes several times over the course of the book. The characters, including Meredith, did experience growth over the course of the novel, though, so, I guess this sort of makes up for the eye-rolling parts.
The secondary characters in this novel pretty much redeemed the novel for me. I loved that all four brothers had such different and interesting personalities and interests, even though they had been secluded on their ranch for years. And the addition of Meredith’s cousin Cassie and her predicament added a lot to a story that had the potential to be very one-dimensional. The ‘bad guys’ in this book, although a bit over-the-top, also made the story interesting and kept things moving.

I also have mixed feelings about the sexual tension that is present in this story. While sex outside of marriage is, of course, not condoned in the realm of Christian fiction, I have found descriptions of physical intimacies between those who are married to be a more common theme in the genre. I am obviously not saying that sex within marriage is a bad thing, but when it comes to the physical descriptions portrayed in Christian novels, even between a man and wife, there is a tendency for it to go too far. I understand that this makes the story more realistic – what husband and wife who are attracted to each other would be able to live in the same house and not have sexual tension between them? But as a reader, when I feel a bit of a blush creeping up as I am reading about a kiss or an intimate touch, then I realize that it might have been taken a bit too far. What if the person reading the novel is not married? It might be hard for that person to keep his/her thoughts pure.
Apart from these issues, I was extremely glad that the author continued her way of weaving spiritual issues very seamlessly through the book. The characters experienced a lot of growth over the course of the novel, and they turned to Scripture for help in their lives. I wish the Scripture part had gone a bit deeper at times, but at least it was there.

I really wanted to like this novel. It had lots of things that endear me to the Christian historical fiction genre, but I just think it fell a bit flat. Short-Straw Bride is an entertaining read, but it was not my favorite from this author.

I will give Short-Straw Bride … 3 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Accidentally Amish" Review

Accidentally Amish
by Olivia Newport
Escape the helter-skelter of the modern culture and join software creator Annie Friesen, hiding at the home of an Amishman. With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures colliding within her. But is her love for Rufus strong enough for her to give up the only life she’s ever known?

Find out more information about this title here.

My Take:
Since I have read several Amish books this year, I thought it would be interesting to read one that was set more from the 'English' side of things. The main story about Annie is an interesting look at the differences between the lifestyles and beliefs of someone who is 'English' and someone who is Amish.

There is also a historical story that is told in this book that takes place in the 1700s during the arrival of the first Amish people to Pennsylvania. Even though this story was more depressing than the modern story, I actually thought the historical angle was much more interesting. I almost would have rather read just that story rather than the modern-day story of Annie and Rufus. It was very interesting to learn how and why the Amish came to America and to read about the various struggles they faced.

As for the story between Annie and Rufus, it was nice, but I wasn’t really captivated by it. For one thing, it was hard for me to take the main male romantic character seriously when his name is Rufus. I realize that this might be a very common Amish name, but it just made me think of a name you would give your pet rather than your baby - not to mention a name that you would speak fondly of or romantically to your husband or boyfriend. I don’t normally get hung up by the names of characters in books, but this one just bothered me.

As I said, I enjoyed the historical part of this book more than the modern one. It was just more exciting and felt more realistic than Rufus and Annie’s story. I didn’t really know what to make of Annie throughout the book. She seemed to make decisions very suddenly, and her spiritual background was not very clear.

I will say that the concept of the modern story was interesting. Would someone give up their modern lifestyle to become Amish – even for a little while? And why would they do that? I often struggle with some Amish books because the perspective seems to be that if you are not Amish, then you aren’t a Christian – you don’t have true salvation. So, what would compel someone to convert to being Amish? Would this be a decision based on spiritual issues, or would it be for some other reason?

Even though I was not as captivated by this story as I had hoped, it did make me think and would lead to good discussions at a book club or some other such setting.

I will give Accidentally Amish … 3 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Barbour Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowing" Blog Tour

Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowing
by Steve Leavitt & Tommy Nelson
Today more people than ever are suffering from emotional distress. Whether they are dealing with depression, anxiety, obsessiveness, fear, worry, or stress, their lives are limited and compromised by the ill-effects. People who suffer from emotional distress often feel isolated and unloved, either by God or by others, and often believe that there is no hope and no way out.

There is good news, however! A truly biblical approach to healing emotional distress focuses on a holistic cure that integrates the mind, body, and spirit. Even when we feel truly alone, God is holding us in His hand. Even when we feel truly hopeless, God offers comfort and purpose. And even when we feel like we will never escape the pit of emotional distress, God sets our feet on firm ground and promises to never let us go. No matter what we have been through or what we are going through now, God can bring critically needed healing and transformation into our lives when we adjust what the authors refer to as “stinkin’ thinkin’.”
For more information about this book, click here.
About the Authors:
Steve Leavitt is a Christian counselor who understands grief. His compassion for the hurting grew when he lost his first wife to cancer in 1997. With an MA in biblical counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary, he is an ordained minister who has been ministering and counseling for over 25 years. During that time he has written and spoken to thousands of people on the issues of marriage, raising a family, growing strong teens, and grief. Steve hosts a live call-in counseling show on KSLR out of San Antonio, Texas. He has an extensive published teaching CD ministry on the subjects of marriage, parenting, the church, and biblical solutions to depression, anxiety, fear, worry, and obsessive compulsive issues. Steve lives in New Braunfels, Texas, with his wife, Marty, and four growing children.
Since 1977, Tommy Nelson has been the Pastor of Denton Bible Church, located in Denton, Texas. He has been featured on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, Josh McDowell, For Faith and Family, and other national broadcasts. He has a Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Tommy has been married to Teresa Nelson for more than 25 years. They have two adult sons, Benjamin and John.

My Take:

What struck me most about this book was it's honesty. Neither of the authors hold back when discussing their own struggles with fear and anxiety, and this is was got me connected to the book right away. Hearing from other Christians who have experienced fear, anxiety, and depression and have dealt with it biblically is encouraging.

This entire book is excellent, but the best part is the section on the Keys to Recovery. In it they offer thorough advice on living with these struggles. The advice is biblical and Christ-centered. The authors do not pull any punches, but they also avoid the "if you are truly a Christian and living a faithful life, you won't struggle with these issues" bit. In fact, they say that this mindset has been prevaelant in the church for so long that it has actually been harmful.

The points that were brought up about perfectionism were also good. We don't always associate fear and anxiety with perfectionism, but they are actually all related.

This book has been extremely eye-opening for me, and I recommend it to everyone dealing with these types of issues.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Resurrect" Blog Tour

Book 1 in the Resurrect trilogy
by David E. Stevens

Preventing his burning fighter from crashing into a neighborhood, Navy Commander Josh Logan ejects ... too late.

Critically injured, he's offered a new life and mission to exploit highly classified military technology to stop a global cataclysm. The price? He'll be dead to everyone he knows.

He wakes in a city hospital with a genetically enhanced body and no identity. With the help of his brilliant Neuro ICU nurse and guided by nothing but a voice, he must infiltrate the military-industrial complex to develop the world's most powerful weapon ... to protect humanity?

Link to buy the book:

Meet the Author:
A Navy fighter pilot with hundreds of aircraft carrier landings, Commander David E Stevens holds degrees from Cornell and the University of Michigan with graduate work in astrophysics. He test piloted new fighters and received an aviation patent. With a Top Secret clearance, Dave served as Strike Operations Officer for the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm and led classified defense programs. He's traveled to over two dozen countries.

Find out more about David E. Stevens at
My Take:
My wonderful husband wrote the bulk of this review since this book is more his type of genre than mine! :)

Resurrect ias a great concept that was turned into a good book.  The idea of a person being brought back to life in a new body is pretty neat.  Make that body the peak (or perhaps even just above the peak) of human limits, and it is even better.  Give that person a contact that communicates with him in his thoughts and guides him towards his goal and you have the makings of a great spy novel. 
Unfortunately, I feel like David Stephens kind of mixed a great concept with unnecessary distractions and a main plot that was too big for this character.  Instead of working with a master spy to save the country from an enemy, he is working with someone who might be an alien (or even God…) to save the world from an incoming comet that no one else knows about or can see.

Having said that, I must say that the book is still well written.  The tension the author creates is intense and makes the reader want to keep reading.  At times I got frustrated with the concept of one man knowing all of the answers and everyone else being in the dark, but, overall, the drama was compelling and fun to read.
I just wish that the author had made Jessie (the voice) less frustrating.  He refused to answer any questions directly or even volunteer any information.  There were several points where the characters had a major setback due to finding out information Jessie had earlier but they didn’t directly ask about.  Add on to that the insinuation that Jessie was either an alien or God and it got a bit annoying.  Then, Josh kept asking spiritual questions that seemed to distract from the main plot.  It was like the book couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a Christian novel or not.  Either be a Christian novel or don’t, but don’t sit on the fence.
Still, overall I liked this book.  And, it is the first book in a trilogy.  I can’t wait to see what the next two books will be about and where our character will go.  I am eager to read the next installment in the resurrect trilogy. 
I will give Resurrect 3.5 bookworms (leaning towards 4).
Find out what other reviewers are saying here:

To celebrate the release of Resurrect, David E. Stevens has teamed up with his publisher, Kregel Publications, for a Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Author Chat Party {12/4}.

One "thrilling" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Resurrect by David E. Stevens
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Resurrect" Author Chat Facebook Party on 12/4. Connect with David, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Resurrect Trilogy, try your hand at the trivia contest, and win some great prizes—gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of Resurrect and join David on the evening of December 4th for a chance to connect with David and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications/Monarch Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."