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Making a Decision — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

When I was growing up, I adored the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I would try out every scenario and keep my thumb held in place so I could go back and switch my decision to get a different outcome. The problem with those books though was that they usually involved situations that I would never find myself in and therefore couldn’t really relate to. Therefore I was pleased to hear that there were these books coming out that were in the same vein as the CYOA books but involved real teens and tweens in situations that come across in life. This books deals with the ever popular game of Truth or Dare and the subject of peer pressure. Girls of this age deal with this issue pretty much every day of their lives and it’s good to know that there are books out there that tackle this topic and try to help guide them in making good decisions. The characters in this book have to make choices about how their actions will affect their lives and whether they end up suffering the consequences of their mistakes or reaping the benefits of their smart choice. It was refreshing to see Lindsay have a good relationship with her parents and that it was easy for her to talk to them about almost everything.

As much as I enjoyed the book I did have a few qualms with it however. The first was I felt that the girls acted a bit young for eighth graders. I only say this because other mainstream YA books that feature girls that age, the characters act older. I’m not implying that they should be acting like adults or even older teens and worry about subjects like sex. It’s just even in a series like The Baby-Sitters Club, 13 year olds were acting more mature and had responsibilities. In this book there’s a lot of giggling and the girls seems to be very naive. I honestly don’t know any 13 year olds who don’t know that buying alcohol as a minor is illegal. It just seemed to take away from the story because it seemed so highly unlikely that this could happen and that the parents, who are otherwise good role models, never told their daughter this. The other thing was there are several sermons in the the book such as one of the characters goes to church or at youth group. While there’s nothing wrong with it, I just felt it was really out of place for a YA book. I’m not a fan of reading sermons even in adult fiction and it sorta made me lose interest during those few pages.I think that some target age readers might feel the same way about that especially if they aren’t Christians. It just seemed a bit wordy and a little preachy. I’d much rather see the message lived out in the story rather than just words dictating it.

Other that that, I did enjoy reading this book. It was a fun read and it was really cool to make a choice at the end. Since I have that habit of choosing every scenario, I read both and was pleased with the outcome of each. This is a really unique series idea and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the books and making more decisions! While the series is marketed as young adult, I would classify this one as being more tween-centered (10-13).

Wonderful thought provoking debut — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

If you are someone that thinks that Christian fiction is always positive, with sunny, happy characters who are willing to drop everything to help out whoever walks by, you need to read this book. It will definitely change your mind about the genre. This book isn’t your typical Christian fiction book. The town of Jonah, New York has been a safe haven for Sarah Graham’s father and now after his death, it has become hers. I enjoyed reading about her becoming acquainted with the small town and its cast of characters. Also the discovery about the truth of the situation involving her parents is painful yet life changing for her. The chemistry between Sarah and Jack is really excellent, and I really liked his character.

Sarah is an extremely prickly character. Throughout almost the entire book, she is nothing but mean, snippy, rude and always trying to get a rise out of a person just for the fun of it. I understand where her hostility comes from. If I had to live the life she went through, with a mother killed by your father who then abandons you with a grandmother who tells you everyday you are worthless, I’d be angry and sullen too. However her attitude continues throughout the entire book and her continual rebuffs at those who try to help her make it very difficult to actually like her as a character. I found myself several times in the book wanting to yell at her to just listen to what the other person had to say before making snap judgments about them.

I did feel that the ending was rather abrupt and leaves the reader with a sense of incompleteness. I honestly felt that there could have been more, not necessarily a neat and tidy ending, but at least a little bit more closure than what we were given. It made me almost feel as if the time I invested in the book seem to have vanished almost immediately. I really liked the entire Watson family and would have liked more closure with them as well. That being said though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is not preachy at all and the storyline sucks you and keeps you wanting to read more. This is an absolutely wonderful debut novel and I am looking forward to reading future works from Christa Parrish. HIGHLY recommended.

Poetry in Motion — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

This book was absolutely fascinating to read. I will admit that I have not read any of either Elizabeth or Robert’s poetry before, other than the famous title of this book. I’m not too big a fan of poetry and while I will admit the writing is beautiful, it just doesn’t do anything for me. Therefore because I was almost completely unfamiliar with their story, this book was a little harder to get into than the author’s previous historical fiction works. However, I soon was able to find myself getting swept up in this world of hidden romances and a yearning for true love. Once again, the story is told in first person and the reader is taken into the mind and world of Elizabeth Barrett and her family. The descriptions of the settings, clothing and actions of the people have been well researched and carefully detailed. You feel swept up into the story and feel that you’re actually in 1800s England.I really felt for Ba and her family. I cannot process the logic of her father’s thinking. It just goes against everything from what’s expected of society to biblical meaning to human nature. It was also incredibly hypocritical of him to marry himself and have all those kids yet expect every single one of them to stay at home and be controlled by him. I’m so glad that several of them managed eventually to break away and that Ba was able to find true happiness. I could not imagine being almost 40 and still living at home under my father’s command and not being allowed to get married.

At the end of the book are a bunch of appendixes which help to fully enjoy the story. The author has included chapter by chapter, where she added to the story and which parts were actually real life events. This is extremely interesting to be able to distinguish fact from fiction and even more so when you find out that some things that sound too good to be true, actually happened! An even bigger delight is the inclusion of Elizabeth’s poems from “Sonnnets from the Portuguese”. After reading her love story, the poems become more beautiful and have more significant meaning.

My only qualm is that I feel the girl on the cover of the book is way too young to be Elizabeth. Clearly throughout the story, she’s described at being 30 or older whereas the cover model looks like she’s in her young twenties. It’s a minor complaint though. Nancy Moser is such a gifted writer and I really think she’s found her niche in writing historical fiction. I’m looking forward to whoever her next featured lady will be and discovering her past.

A Delight to Read — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

This book was quite a surprise to read. From the front cover and description, I immediately assumed this was going to be another mommy-lit book where the wife has the unruly children and the husband seems to be oblivious to his wife’s struggles. Luckily though I was in for a treat as this was not the case. Yes, there is a pregnant mom trying to juggle her kids and her life but there’s a twist. She’s a working mom and not a SAHM . Essie is a character that you immediately like as you read about her tackling life out in the work force and how to take care of the kiddies back at home. Meanwhile she has to watch her husband face a midlife crisis as he actually goes out and buys the stereotypical Porsche. An incredibly funny scene happens when Essie comes home one day and finds her beloved SUV replaced by a hulking Hummer. The story is also about Jack’s estranged father Hamilton and how his life has become unfulfilled. He’s had numerous wives that have come and gone. His new catchphrase could be “I’m on a boat!” as that has become his permanent home. He has found out that his so called easy way of life has completely alienated himself from getting to know his only son’s family. It’s interesting how living on the boat is a metaphor for how unstable and unpredictable Ham has made his life.

The story is very entertaining and it’s filled with lots of humor. There were times when I would get a bit miffed with Jack and his lack of concern for Essie’s life at times. However their marriage is quite healthy and it’s refreshing to see a family who actually enjoys spending time with each other. I believe this is the author’s first novel and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s fun, light, non preachy and teaches one what’s meaningful in life. I’ll be looking forward to reading the rest of Majorie’s books.

Relax at your own risk — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

I’m always a big fan of stories set in spas. The setting just seems so relaxing to read about massages, facials, and being in total luxury. I haven’t had the chance to go to one in a while, so reading about it is the next best thing. Love Inspired Suspenses can be hit or miss, as some of the stories don’t really have good suspense plots. This book, however, has a very good mystery, people actually do die, and there is a romance. This may sound surprising, but there have been some LI Suspenses where the mystery is non existent and there is more emphasis on the romance. A successful book in this series would blend the two together with more focus on the mystery. That is what this book does. I was immediately sucked into the story and tried unsuccessfully to guess who the culprit was. I know a mystery is good when I pick out a background character to be the murderer and I’m totally wrong.

Something I found incredibly funny is that Naomi’s sisters are named Monica and Rachel. I’m half surprised Naomi wasn’t named Phoebe! (That’s a “Friends” joke if you didn’t get it). Also Devon’s last name happens to be Knightley, a sly reference to a certain leading man in a famous Regency book. I also appreciated how the author has made the lead character half-Asian, but treats her as a normal person. Other than initial descriptions so the reader is aware of her ethnicity, there is no stereotypical descriptions. I really hope this is a series so that way there can be more about the Grant family and more adventures from the spa. Yes there was a murder, but I still came away totally relaxed. This was a really fun book to read and as always Camy Tang has written a winner.

A review of "It's a Green Thing (Diary of a Teenage Girl: Maya, Book 2)" — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

The Diary of Teenage Girl series is, in my opinion, one of the best series out there for teens, Christian or not. There have been four girls spotlighted throughout the series and each has been different yet enjoyable to read. Some girls I’ve liked more than others and I will have to say that Maya’s series is my favorite. I like Maya because she asks the questions that challenge Christians who think they know everything and isn’t afraid of what others might think of her. In this book Maya feels that she’s starting to become a normal teenager and is able to escape the jumbled life she used to live.

I really liked Maya’s reactions to the Christian girls from her youth group. I have felt that Amanda and Brooke represent a good deal of real Christians teens who are two faced. They act like they are the perfect Christians while they are at church but then in real life they condemn everyone but back down when challenged. They also seem to throw themselves at boys a lot. I’ve experienced this treatment myself and the way Maya reacted was realistic. If she had just immediately forgiven the girls and let them walk over her, I would have been very disappointed in this book and would stop reading. However, she challenges them, gets irritated and tries to seek justice for the wrongs they caused. I really liked the way that everything got worked out involving the incident between Brooke and Maya. It’s not neat and tidy and obviously Brooke needs to work on her attitude but it’s an ending that I can accept because it’s not sugar coated with fake Christianity. Also the situations with her and her boyfriend were handled tastefully and realistically as well.

Throughout the book Maya shares tips on saving the planet. Maya’s green tips are great and I’ve tried several of them myself (although the tip about the car and not using the air conditioner or even opening the windows won’t really work during summer). They really make you think about saving the environment but they are not trying to push an agenda. The only thing I would have liked would have been a response from Caitlyn to Maya’s questions about being green and being vegan. It would have just been interesting to see what she would have to say or what most Christians think about that subject. This series is a favorite of mine and I’m looking forward to the rest of Maya’s adventures.

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Food and Family Galore — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

Nom nom nom. That’s all I could say after reading this book. If I could eat what I read, this entire series would make me gain so much weight. This book features pies, and lots of them. I would have loved to help out Charlotte and her pie making business, although I will admit I might have been one of those sneaking away bites during the cooking process! Charlotte sounds like a wonderful cook who does enjoy cooking, although probably not for such high numbers with a deadline.

This book is a great combination of food, family, and friendship. Even with the fourth different writer contributing to the series, there is still continuity and flow within the books. Honestly, except for little tweaks here and there, I would not have been able to tell this book had been written by a different author. The characters’ personalities remain the same as are the feelings and struggles they face. While the author has put his personal touches here and there, it’s still very nice to read about the family and still have that same familiarity. Once again I appreciate that the teens in the family are portrayed with respect towards what real teens go through and are not treated as cardboard characters.

The only thing that really bugged me was the fact that Charlotte could not seem to say no to anyone. I understood that she wanted to help out everyone and didn’t want to disappoint anybody. However there comes a time when you have to realize you can’t please everyone and you can’t do everything. It just took Charlotte a long time to realize this. I also don’t understand why the townsfolk didn’t seem to think that this could possibly be overwhelming for Charlotte. I would have thought in a small town this would have been easily noticeable. It was just a bit disheartening to see close friends seem to take advantage of Charlotte. Other than this, there’s nothing to complain at all about this book and this entire series. Once again this is an excellent addition to the Heather Creek saga and I enjoyed spending time with the family. Looking forward to returning for another adventure!

Cherish Your Life — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

This book reminded me very much of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Instead the message is that we don’t know how much time we have left, and that any minute we could be taken away. Cherish the time you have with your family and don’t take them for granted. Throughout the first half of the book, I just wanted to keep screaming at Sarah for the flippant way she was treating her family. I understand that her job was important, but the fact that she couldn’t see how it was affecting her relationships really bugged me. I appreciated that the book did not try to make it seem that it was condemning women who work outside of the home and being away from their children. I have read some Christian fiction books that seem to make that point and it always annoyed me at how chauvinist it seemed that the women was supposed to stay at home while the man is the one that does all the work.. In this book however, the story is not blaming Sarah for wanting to work, just how she happened to handle everything.

I think the harshest moment in the book was the fact that Sarah has sacrificed everything for her boss and the company, and has pretty much died trying to do things for them. Yet it doesn’t seem to matter at all. Her boss, after finding out about her death, pretty much dismisses it and is already looking to replace her with no sympathy at all. Another heart wrenching aspect of the story is when Sarah realizes why her mother treated and acted the way she did towards Sarah her entire life. While it still doesn’t give her the right to act that way towards her daughter, Sarah’s mother becomes a more sympathetic character when we find out about her past.

If there’s anything I didn’t like about the book, it would have to be the ending. I just thought it was too “let’s tidy up everything” and seemed rather predictable. I thought it would have had a better effect if the unexpected had happened. Other than this, I enjoyed the book and thought it was a good read with a strong message. It makes you see life in a whole new way.

A Ballet of Words — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

This was one of the most wonderful stories I have read in a while. It’s been a while since I’ve been to see a ballet live and I really miss it. There’s nothing like watching the beauty, grace and elegance of the dancers on stage and seeing the wonderful performance right before your eyes. This book made me feel like I was watching a carefully choreographed dance with words. Gilly and Jonathan had wonderful chemistry together and I could picture both of them dancing together on both stage and in real life. They were characters that grew throughout the book and their transformations were intriguing to read. I enjoyed learning about the ballet and how hard it is to be a dancer and the struggles one has to go through to make it to the top.

While the book has a strong faith based message, it is not preachy. It handles topics such as abortion and homosexuality with grace and tactfulness and does condemn those that choose those lifestyles. I really enjoyed seeing how the situation with Alexandra was handled. Too often in Christian fiction, there’s always a cop-out ending with people getting away with things wrongfully. However, this time I was delightfully pleased with how everything played out, there was enough to satisfy mysnarky side with forgiveness and mercy being displayed as well. It’s always nice to see authors putting in recurring characters in their books for their long time fans. I enjoyed seeing Laurel and Cole make appearances in this book. It’s like seeing long lost friends again. This is another wonderful book from Elizabeth White and I’m looking forward to reading her next book.

Hooked on the Edge of Your Seat — 4 years ago

WORTH CONSUMING!

Ghostwriters are interesting characters as it’s hard to imagine the thought of working hard on something and then letting another person take all the credit for it. This story manages to grab the reader from the get go, with material that pushes the edge and makes you cringe and squirm but keeps drawing you in. One thing I really did enjoy about this book was the tidbits it told about what life is like for an author. Just all the daily going ons of writing, touring, marketing, fan mail were very interesting to read and it made me wonder how many authors are struggling with these issues every day. The story builds up slowly but once it does it’s like a non stop roller coaster.

I’ve been reading other reviews and have seen that other readers have found this book too gory, very dark, and quite scary. To be honest, I didn’t feel that way at all. I have read other Christian fiction books that are way more gorier than this one. In fact, compared to books I’ve read that have people being gored up on doors or having their skin peeled off, this book paled in that factor. I will admit the storyline is very creepy. Cillian’s character is one that gets under your skin and makes you very uncomfortable due to his obsession with having Dennis tell the truth. However on the other hand Dennis is also a character that you could despise because of his actions. To me that is more the horror of the story, the fact that you get so desperate that you do anything to save someone you love, even if it means going against everything you believe in.

A funny note: when I first picked up the book and flipped through it, the first thing I saw was Dennis Shore’s bibliography. I was immediately confused and thought the publisher had inserted the wrong page from another book inside this one. Luckily though, I turned that page and all was made right.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it is a page turner and kept me on the edge of my seat. If you’re in the mood for a thriller and you’re looking for a new author to try, you must read this book. I’m looking forward to reading Travis’ back list and whatever new he’s cooking up.

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