Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: Tender Warrior

Tender Warrior: Every Man's Purpose, Every Woman's Dream, Every Child's Hope
I grew up the oldest of four daughters, with no brothers. Five years into marriage with my best friend and husband, I know I have only gotten a taste of how men and women are created so different. We are definitely wonderfully and uniquely made! God has blessed us with an adorable son, who is now two years old. As we have watched him grow and develop, I know I have so much to learn about parenting a little boy who is day by day moving towards manhood!

Stu Weber's book "Tender Warrior: Every Man's Purpose, Every Woman's Dream, Every Child's Hope" looked interesting, and I wondered what kind of insights I might gain into raising my little man into one day being a strong, tender warrior. This book has sat on my shelf for months because of the busyness of life, but I have gotten to skim different chapters, and realized it is really written more towards men. My husband has read the book before and said it was really good. I finally knew I couldn't progress through the book because I have other things claiming my time. But what I read is really good. I have recognized in so many ways the battle that goes on in our culture for men to try and be masculine, strong, compassionate, etc... The balance is hard to find. And who can young men look up to as they try to figure this out? Not all young men have positive older role models to follow.

So this book could help fill that thirst for men as their try to seek God and live as men of integrity in this world. If you're a man (and I'm not), this might be a book you should check out. Stu Weber really lays out well that a "tender warrior" can impact his workplace, home, marriage, children, etc...

Feel free to rank my review here... it only takes a few seconds!

* I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review, as part of their Blogging for Books program. All views expressed are strictly my own.

Book Review: "Love in Disguise"

Love in Disguise
When I discovered the book "Love in Disguise" was about a young woman who used her theatrical skills to become a Pinkerton detective in the 1880's and travel West to investigate some silver mines in a small town that have had their silver shipments hijacked, I laughed and knew I had to give it a try.

This book was a first read for me by the author Carol Cox, and now I want to read some of her other books. Here's the book description:

When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona.

Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments--until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow...or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie.

But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?

If you enjoy historical fiction, mystery, humor, and romance, you might want to give this book a try. It's definitely a different plot, and one that kept me laughing and turning the pages, while also trying to figure out who the culprit was! Ellie's character, and in this book, characters, just kept me grinning as she acted out her different roles, trying to keep each person straight, balance out friendships with the townspeople, and of course battle her own heart regarding the mine owner Steven, who doesn't even know who she really is!

Just writing this review is side-tracking me while I remember various parts of the book. So yep, it's a good read and I recommend it! Have fun!

* I received a copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review. This review is completely my own, and all the opinions expressed in it are mine and not Bethany House!

Book Review: "Submerged"

Submerged (Alaskan Courage)
I knew I was running a risk when I requested a copy of "Submerged" by Dani Pettrey, a new author on the Christian fiction scene. But the synopsis of the book captured my interest...

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers. 

One single clue.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a town that doesn't forget. She's returned only to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash, but then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can face dangerous rescue dives. He can face the fear a murderer may be threatening his town. But facing the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart...but doesn't seem to be the same girl who left Yancey ten years ago. And he's not the same guy she left behind. 

Racing against the clock and a rising body count, Bailey and Cole must move beyond the hurts of their pasts to work together until the truth of what is hidden in the depths finally surfaces.

Mystery. Suspense. Adventure. Rugged nature. A little bit of romance. All wound together with faith. So I decided to try it. And I couldn't put it down. Battling a severe ear infection this weekend, I struggled to get comfortable enough to sleep, so I decided to read to get my mind off the pain as my meds started working. And I was hooked within the first few chapters. 

Bailey has started a new life through the power of God's redemption, but no one in her hometown knows that, and she doesn't want to stir back up the pain of her past. When her aunt suddenly passes away, she has to return, but plans on it being for as short of a time as possible. Once back, other events start happening, and Bailey is drawn into finding out what is really going on behind the crime and rising body count in a normally calm tourist town. One of the other main characters, Cole, had been a quality guy she'd known in high school before she had gone off the deep end into the partying life, and now they both aren't sure how to rebuild a friendship. But they start working together, and of course in the midst of solving the mysteries surrounding the events in town, they start talking more. Their conversations were pretty realistic and honest, and I was encouraged by the forgiveness, hope, and health that came about through their developing relationship... Especially the Christian faith aspect of the book was refreshing to read because it wasn't the often-used pat church answers you find in some Christian fiction, it was woven throughout in a non-preachy way, while also being real and not just the "insert name of God here so this can be a Christian book" type either.

I just loved this book. Writing a review without giving away too much of the story line is hard. This book was quality, had different elements than a lot of other Christian fiction books, intriguing historical twists about Russian-Alaskan history, and was just plain good. So if you see it at your library, have Amazon gift cards, or live local to me :-), take a chance and read it, and let me know what you think! This is a book I don't think you will regret! My only disappointment is that the second book isn't coming out until February 2013!!!

* I received a copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review. This review is completely my own, and all the opinions expressed in it are mine and not Bethany House!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun (Land of the Lone Star)
Author Tracie Peterson is well-known for writing historical Christian fiction, and I've enjoyed several of her other books. So I was excited to get to read "Chasing the Sun" because the story-line is based in my home state, Texas, shortly after the Civil War.

The two main characters, Hannah and William, come from two different backgrounds... Hannah's family moved west to Texas during the War to get away from the conflict. William and his brothers & father left their ranch in Texas to join the fighting on the Union side. Being viewed at traitors, William's ranch is given to Hannah's father as a reward for Confederacy loyalty. When Hannah's father leaves to visit a sick relative back in Mississippi, she is left with her younger siblings in charge of the ranch. William returns home as the only survivor of the family after the fighting, he finds that the ranch no longer belongs to him and wants to do everything he can to regain it. A variety of situations (deceptive business partner, indians, sickness, etc...) throw together the main two characters, and following very predictable romance fiction, they fight falling in love and don't have real conversations until the end. Two minutes of talking could have solved a lot of problems. But both characters fight pride and independence.

The various situations in this book honestly made it hard to swallow all in one story. Yes, a lot of those things happened back in that time period, but for them to all happen in just a few months, and to the same young woman (she's only 19), and everything to always turn out in her favor, just wasn't realistic. I also felt like the author was trying to impose current viewpoints on slavery, prejudices, male-female roles, etc... all into one character that didn't give the story an authentic fit to be 1860's Texas. Basically, too much history and flavor was packed into one story, and it would have been more enjoyable if it was kept simpler.

I think this is the first book I've read by Tracie Peterson that I would honestly say to a friend, "Skip it. Don't bother." I had a hard time sticking to the story, and often thought to myself "Seriously? That's where this is going? She just said this? She did what?" and I finished it only because I needed to as part of the book review program by Bethany House. Check out some of her other books, because she is a skilled historical fiction author, but this book didn't meet my expectations.

* I received a copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review. This review is completely my own, and all the opinions expressed in it are mine and not Bethany House!

It's about to rain book reviews... :-)

As a wise woman shared with me a few weeks ago: "You know, I think every season on life is crazy, just in different ways." Well-meaning friends often say something along the lines, "If you think you're busy right now, wait until you reach ---insert life season---, then it really gets crazy!"

I'm sure that's true, but in the midst of learning a new season in life (in my specific instance, a stay-at-home mom of two kiddos 21 months apart), thinking of it getting crazier doesn't help me catch my breath in the moment! Letting myself acknowledge that right now, in this particular adventure in my life, there are days that DO feel crazy, somehow gives me breathing room to face the next moment. It relieves some pressure.

One area I've been able to start catching up on this summer has been reading... I have enjoyed being part of both Waterbrook Multnomah's "Blogging for Books" and Bethany House Book Reviewers programs, but have gotten behind on reading the books and writing my reviews. So get ready for a slew of reviews coming the next few days! Feel free to skip them, skim them, or whatever else you want to do. But I need to hold up my end of the deal with writing honest reviews for receiving these books*!

And if you, too, are sometimes overwhelmed with a "crazy" season or adventure in your life, take a deep breath. Don't fear life getting crazier. Embrace today (but you don't always have to enjoy every single moment), capture the great moments, and let go of the hard ones when you can. And let yourself smile! I know the connection isn't really clear between book reviews and life being crazy, but for me it was a tangible example of how something as small as writing a review can feel like pressure, when it really doesn't have to be!

* If you are a blogger (of any size blog) and like reading, sign-up to be part of either of those programs! I personally recommend them. Both publishing companies send you a free copy of the book you choose, which you read, and then write an honest review for them. A great way to read good books without having to spend extra money! And no, neither company is paying me anything to promote their programs! :-)