Thursday, December 16, 2010

Book Review - "Running Around (and Such)"

Linda Byler, a new author, to me offers a new and refreshing Amish story with her novel "Running Around (and Such)," the first in the Lizzie Searches for Love series. Byler grew up Amish and still is active with the Amish church. This is evident as the characters are very realistic and believable throughout the novel as everything is not sugar-coated, there is the negative and bad mixed in with the good. What jumped out to me is that Lizzie is a "typical teenager" as teenage girls may be stereotyped as and she is not portrayed as Amish girls of this age usually are in novels.

Lizzie feels as if she does not belong in her family or her Amish community at times. Lizzie feels inferior to her slim, pretty, and competent sisters, Mandy and Emma. Lizzie is overweight, loves to eat and loves fancy thing, especially high heels. Fifteen is a tough age for Lizzie as formal education is ending for her and she is expected to help around the house more and also work outside of the home. Staying in another family's home and helping out just does not appeal to Lizzie, yet this is expected of her. To add to the feelings of not fitting in, Lizzie's family moves to another county, in order to allow her father to follow his dream of farming much to her mother's dismay. This move is worse still as Lizzie and Emma are at the age of beginning to run around and there are not other young people their age in their county. In order to meet prospective husbands, Emma and Lizzie have to travel to another county on the weekends to spend time with other young people. Lizzie's life is never dull as she helps with the milking at home, works for a short amount of time with eggs and learns to make her own clothing.

Byler's novel is great for adults and also teenagers as Lizzie deals with emotions and also situations that "English" teenagers cope with as well. Byler's style of writing is easy to read. Lizzie has flashbacks throughout the novel and this allows the reader to know Lizzie better and understand her perspective.

*FSB Associates provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Book Review - "Blue Ocean Bob Discovers His Purpose"

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a copy of "Blue Ocean Bob Discovers His Purpose" to read and review! This book is filled with beautiful illustrations, a great story with a wonderful message that is written in rhyme and will hold the attention of children while getting the message across to them.
This is volume one of a new series, The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob. It is written by Brooks Olbrys and illustrated by Aleksandra Beaucher. And how this series has started is wonderful! Olbrys has studied the work of Bob Proctor and after Olbrys' son was born he wished to have these principles be available and more geared toward children, hence the creation of Blue Ocean Bob. I encourage you to check out the website:

This book begins with introducing the reader to Bob, someone many children and adults can relate to. Bob daydreamed about what his life may be like and he lived a good life, but he was not content with what he had. Something was missing for Bob, so he went on a journey to discover what else there is to life. Bob begins with consulting his closest friend (and bird) Zena and then goes to visit the sea creatures as Bob believes them to be "generous, happy and wise." Bob receives advise from various creatures. One of my favorite lines in the book is the advise Bob receives from Doc, a turtle. Doc advises, "Discover your passion, then simply jump in. Decide what you love, what excites and inspires - then make that your purpose and watch what transpires." This advise leads Bob to discover his purpose and knowing what he needed to do! Bob is reminded that although his purpose is set, he will "face crooked pathways and challenges too."

This book is a great story with a great lesson for children and adults. I am looking forward to more adventures of Blue Ocean Bob!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Review - "Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball"

I love Christmas - Christmas movies, books, music, everything, so I was excited to read Donita K. Paul's novella, "Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball!" This hardcover book has a beautiful Christmas scene on the cover as well as being a magical Christmas romance. Christmas is a magical time of year, but for some people it is a time of stress and painful memories instead of spending quality time together with family. Cora had difficulty getting into the Christmas spirit and she hated the frenzy of Christmas shopping. Cora had her entire life organized and protected until one day she stumbles upon an interesting bookshop on the even more interesting Sage Street. While browsing for a gift, Cora runs into her boss' boss, Simon in the same shop. Simon, ever so serious and socially lacking Simon, is also shopping for a gift. Both Cora and Simon receive a ticket to an annual Christmas Ball, a ball that is a well-kept secret, but has a unique history and stories associated with it. Neither knew that these tickets would be only the beginning of changes in their lives as through these tickets not only do Simon and Cora spend time together outside of the office, but with Sandy, Simon's sister as well. Cora's sister arrives in town causing chaos and may be the one to disrupt the plan of the ball's organizers if she has her way.

This book is so fun to read and is just a feel-good, magical Christmas story! Sandy's character plays such a vital role throughout the story and with the relationship that grows between Simon and Cora. Sandy and the shop owners are minor characters, but really play huge roles and are really a team working together. Sage Street adds mystery, romance and beautiful imagery throughout the story. I would love to have a Sage Street to walk down, window shop on and enjoy it's treats. It is a place that appears as if it belongs in another era, is uncrowded and filled with beautiful shops with unusual owners and wares. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get into the Christmas spirit!

* “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review - "Angry"

Written from the perspective of 16 year-old Emma, "Angry" by Laura L. Smith is a perfect book for teenagers to read. Emma is struggling with her parents getting divorced, her dad's new girlfriend, her mother's drinking problem and caring for her younger siblings. Along with this, Emma is involved with the school play and "drama" with friends and boyfriends. Emma prays to God throughout the book when she is in the midst of crisis, however she does not really appear to have a real relationship with God or really rely on Him. However, she is on a journey to really placing her trust in God.

This is the third book in a series that deals with teen issues. I thought this book was a quick, easy read and would hold the attention of a teenager. This book could be a great resource to use with a youth group, probably with the girls, as I felt like I was part of a group of teenage girls as I was privy to their thoughts and conversations. I think that by using this book, great discussions could result. Emma deals with real issues and her reaction to everything going on in her life is typical, teen girls would be able to really relate or know someone who could.

*I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Book Review - "A Rush of Wings"

Kristen Heitzmann had me hooked from her very first paragraph of "A Rush of Wings." Noelle is fearful, but of what she is not completely sure and she is not sure where this fear stems from. Noelle is searching for answers and also running from being controlled by the men in her life, most specifically her fiancee Michael who became physically harmful to me. Noelle finds herself taking buses to anywhere that will be far from home and lands at a ranch in a small town. Always loving horses, Noelle is drawn to the beautiful creatures at the ranch and this allows her to forge a friendship with the ranch owner Rick. Images and memories continue to immerse and flood Noelle's mind, but she struggles to piece them together. Through many trials and spending time with Rick, his brother Morgan and their family, Noelle discovers that she is missing out on something in her life that is important to the majority of this family - faith in God. But, why do all of these memories have "God" in them and why does He cause her more fear?

The reader is taken along on a journey with Noelle to sort through these thoughts and memories. I like that I was learning and reliving these along with Noelle and the past and fears were not revealed to me initially. This added to the suspense and also allowed me to really empathize with Noelle. The character development was great in this novel. Noelle begins as a rich, yet fearful twenty-three year-old who has lived in a secure environment with friends hand-picked for her. Noelle sets out on her own with little money and develops her talents and strengths in order to survive and really find herself. One of my favorite parts of the novel is the time that Noelle spends with the Spencer family at their home. The family is very real with their relationships with each other and how they accept Noelle into their lives and at times some are also wary of her. I would recommend this book to any fiction reader!!!

*Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review - "Allison Investigates Does Chocolate Milk come from Brown Cows?"

Written and Illustrated by Colette Omans Nicoletta, "Allison Investigates Does Chocolate Milk come from Brown Cows?" takes the reader on a journey to discover where chocolate milk comes from. This book is perfect for children, it is educational and filled with beautiful pictures portraying each step that is taken in order for chocolate milk to be produced. Allison's dad tells her that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, but to Allison this does not seen quite right. So, Allison goes to a farm and sees different kinds of cows, helps milk the cows and goes to the plant where the milk is taken. This book is enjoyable to read and is written so that children can truly understand where chocolate milk comes from.