Saturday, September 6, 2014

Review: "Love Story" by Nichole Nordeman

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     To be completely honest I was drawn to Nichole Nordemon's book  Love Story (Worthy Publishing) because her words have touched me deeply beforeShe has a talent for words in a very specific way, changing the way you hear stories you've heard your whole life; breathing new life into them.  I know, I auditioned for a fine arts school with a dance to just one of those songs in which she did that.  That song meant a lot to me, and I couldn't wait to read (which is my other passion) a whole book full of such stories.  Let me tell you she did not disappoint, but in fact blew my expectations out of the water.  She is so bare and honest with her words; the way in which she connects these biblical character's to her every day life, that it kept me not only turning the pages, but wanting to go get cupcakes with her and sit down and talk about it.
     Her retelling of Joseph broke my heart, and Moses made me cry.  After all the darkest, loneliest, most awful debilitating times of life--Joseph is that moment, the space before the "e" in hope and the period.  He's the moment went hope turns to fruition.  These stories I've read and heard plenty of times throughout my life touched me more deeply than ever before.  Read this book to understand why swans can't be made out of stone.  If you aren't convinced read that chapter on the disciples, I kid you not you will never look at life the same, it is SO beautiful.  And now that you read that chapter, and I know you are hooked, I think it's really important to read about Paul.  We are all Paul, and most likely don't know it.  This book will shake you, in a good way.  Nordeman's curiosity is this book's cake, and her talent to write words poetic is the icing.  I promise you that you will not put it down. 
Love Story was released September 2, 2014.  I don't think we'll be sitting down for cupcakes anytime soon, but give it a read and leave me a comment on your favorite story, and what story changed a little for you!
I was provided a review copy by Worthy Publishing First Look for a fair and honest review.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Review & Interview: "Hacker" by Ted Dekker

Photo credit: NetGalley
My Review

I asked every way I could for the honor of reviewing Ted Dekker's new Outlaw Chronicle installment Hacker (Worthy Publishing), because for me having to wait a day for a new Dekker book is a day too long.  The Outlaw Chronicles explore the ideas of what one's true self is, and forgiveness sooo far below the level of typical conversation.  That's my favorite thing about Dekker books; there is the edge of your seat thrilling story on the surface level, but if you pay attention there is SO, SO much more!  Hacker does not disappoint.
Nyah is a teenage hacker, trying to use her skills to save her mother's life.  She runs into some serious trouble with her hacks, putting not only herself in danger, but everyone she knows.  It's a race against the clock trying to mostly save her mother's life, but also her own.  She learns how to hack not only computers, but herself, and finds out who she really is--what life is really about.  Only when she learns how to surrender, everything falls into place how it is supposed to be.  It's amazing how often life plays out opposite of how we plan, but how it needs to be. 
Hacker reminds me a little of Blink in the sense of making you wonder where the lines stand.  It makes you think about what is really possible, if only you believed--REALLY believed.

Hacker was released on June 10, 2014.  If you haven't read it, why are you reading this still and not on your way to the nearest book store?  TOTALLY KIDDING, you should finish reading this, comment, share, the usual...THEN run to your closest book store, buy it, and don't stop reading till you're finished! ;)  Seriously though, the story will keep you on the edge of your seat and will bend your mind (hack?) to something you may not expect.  "Dedito."

An ARC was provided for review by Worthy Publishing First Look and a digital copy provided by NetGalley for a fair and honest review.  Interview below provided by Worthy Publishing.

(provided by the publisher)
1.      Your main character in Hacker, Nyah, makes a living by cracking the firewalls of major corporations. What role does technology play in her development as a character?
TD:  Nyah roots a great deal of her identity in technology. In doing so she defines who she is by what she does. She even says so at the beginning of the book. I am a hacker. We all do this. For her, technology is what she knows, it’s what defines her, and provides the comfort zone. But it’s also her prison, which she comes to discover later.  
2.      How does personal loss affect Nyah’s view of God?
TD: When we meet Nyah, we find her in a place of great suffering especially for someone her age. That colors everything, just as it does for everyone else. For Nyah, the inescapable question is, “Why is there such suffering in the world?” Or more to the point, “Why is all of this happening to me?”  That offense, that feeling of injustice and unfairness, feeds her entire view of the world, including her view of God as a distant, uncaring creator.
3.      Why do you consider Hacker a modern-day parable?
TD: Parables are meant to re-frame the world differently so we can experience it again for the first time. Hacker takes a simple concept that many people already believe, that there’s another reality so near to us that we’re unaware of its presence most of the time, and puts it center stage. The story doesn’t have a moral or try to make a point per se, because that’s not what parables are for, but it does ask you to look at the world through new eyes—Nyah’s.
4.      The central question in each book in this series is, “Who am I?” What prompted you to explore that question?
TD: The question of identity is central to all of life and, in fact, most of my own striving and struggle can be traced back to it. We define ourselves, almost without thinking much of it, by what we do. I’m a mother, a father, a man, a woman, a writer, an accountant… The list is neverending. But strip that all away, as death will one day for all of us, and what remains? Are you, at your core, really a mother or a father or an accountant? Or are you something far more and we’ve only bought into the notion that this costume, which we call the body and our careers and talents, is really who we are?
5.      The series so far includes a 17-year-old who claims she has been buried alive, a 13-year-old orphan with no memory, and a 17-year-old genius computer hacker. What are the similarities between these characters?
TD: [Laughs.] You’ll have to read the books to find out for yourself. Ultimately, they are all forced to take a journey that begins in the valley of the shadow of death and ends on the other side of it.
6.      What role does the unseen play in your books?
TD: An enormous role, because that’s how it is in real life even in a literal way. Physicists tell us that the visible universe is a miniscule slice of what actually exists, we just can’t see the rest. But just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s non-existent.
7.      What makes your characters in this series “outlaws”?
TD: It’s their journeys, which lead them “out of the law” of death and suffering into the light. It’s the same journey we all get to take, and which we’re called to.
8.      You grew up as a missionary kid among cannibals in Indonesia. How do you think your unusual upbringing affects your writing and your faith today?
TD: My upbringing gives me a unique way of looking at the world. Understand, I grew up among people for whom spirituality was integral to life. It wasn’t tacked on or part of life… There was no separation. They believed in the unseen, they witnessed its powers, and lived as though the seen and the unseen were woven together in a beautiful, mysterious way.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: "Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home: by Nina Stibbe

Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home, (Little, Brown and Company) by Nina Stibbe is a light read perfect for a weekend or the beach.  Fully comprised of the letters author Nina Stibbe sent her sister when she moved to London and became Nanny to two boys in the 80s, you learn her side of every story.  Some rather public figures are apart of the mother's life and therefore become part of hers.  The letters give the feel of listening to one-side of a phone conversation of these two sisters keeping up with one another's life.  It's witty and interesting and you will fall in love with Nina and the family!

Publication date: April 22, 2014

Book provided for review by  Little, Brown and Company via Goodreads First Reads

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: "Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis" by Edgar Harrell, USMC, with David Harrell

Picture credit: NetGalley

I read Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis (Bethany House ) by Edgar Harrell, USMC, with David Harrell with high hopes.  I may have come into the story biased by other somewhat similar stories I highly enjoyed.  This one was just different, not bad, just different.  The story itself seemed somewhat distant; lost in almost overwhelming details.  I understand that details are necessary to tell story; it's just that in this instance they took over and were sometimes disconnecting from the story.  I think the published copy of the book will be better.  I had an advanced e-reader copy, which did not include pictures.  I think the pictures may override those details in connecting the reader to the story.  Not a bad read, I just don't think it was told to it's full potential.

Publication Date: May 6, 2014

This book was provided for review by NetGalley

Monday, April 7, 2014

Contest: Win a signed copy of "Great" by Sara Benincasa

Win Sara Benincasa's new YA "Great"...a retelling of "The Great Gatsby"
contest here

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book Review: "The Here and Now" by Ann Brashares

I chose to read The Here and Now (Random House Children's) by Ann Brashares simply because she wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and I LOVED those books.  Now don't expect the same, the premise of these novels are VERY  different.  The Here and Now is a futuristic novel that takes place presently?  I know a little confusing.  The premise is a group of people from the future, time travel back to the present to save themselves, and hopefully the future as well.  I had never read a book like this, but decided to give it a chance, because like I said SISTERHOOD!  I had read  some reviews on this before I started reading, which gave me some trepidation.  There were some REALLY bad ones.  And I don't understand, because although this is really meant for teenagers, I kind of enjoyed it.  I wanted to find out what happened!  Brashares idea (I think) was to write a novel of warning about what we are doing to the Earth and the consequences it means for the future.  A warning to change that while we still can.  Not quite sure she accomplished that (maybe she did, because I did get it). While I wouldn't recommend this to EVERYONE there are some specific people I know that would eat it up and I will tell them to read it.  Not necessarily for lovers of The Traveling Pants but definitely for teenage girls who are sort of into dystopian novels right now.

Publication date: April 8, 2014

This book was provided for review by NetGalley

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: "Eyes Wide Open" by Ted Dekker

WorthyPub requested pics WITH the book

NEVER enough autographed copies

When I started Eyes Wide Open (Worthy Publishing) by Ted Dekker I was a bit nervous that it was going to end up being like Thr3e, and I won't tell you why because I don't want to ruin a good story for you.  Thr3e was the first Dekker book I read and the reason I started reading them all; part of the reason he is my favorite author.  If you've read it, the thing with the main character Kevin, I thought that was going to happen with Austin and Christy.  I had that problem when I started reading Dekker, I thought every book was going to be like that, and they aren't.  Not one book is the same, they are separate stories, although all the Dekkies out there are able to spot tie ins that make these books even more exciting (including this one).  Although I'm sure all the die-hard Dekker readers have already read this, THE END THOUGH!!!!! Eyes Wide Open is different but it's the same, because like other stories there is a parable.  Like other Dekker stories, you start to get confused between what's real and what's not, but that should be expected I suppose.  It is a YA so it is an extremely quick read and well worth it; even past YA age! OOOOOOOOOOH AND HE MENTIONS SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE which is my favorite show! and that kind of freaks me out but totally got me excited. My favorite author and my favorite show! Eeek! Also noted the Green Bay Packers (Ted are you stalking my Facebook page or something?)...kidding, I'm sure that part had something to do with Kevin Kaiser.
Anyways....main characters Chrissy and Austin are both somewhat loners and get tossed in to this journey when Chrissy is buried alive and Austin sets out to find her.  They are trapped in an existence that may or may not be real.  They will question who they are. What is true.  So will you, not just about them, but about you. Are we blinded to the truth, or are we truly seeing it?  Are our lamps on or off?  There is so much truth at the basis of this novel.  A different story but a drive at the message of Outlaw.  I'm sure there is a reason the Eyes Wide Open novels are all connected...different stories trying to hone in on a certain message.  Because they are different stories those messages come across differently, you'll probably learn something different about yourself with each one.  I know I did.  These stories change my life,  They make me see things in a way I didn't know how before.

Sorry this was so jumbled, I just get so excited and passionate about these stories!  I would obviously recommend that everyone DIVE DEEP and read this ;).

Side note: I just read the back where it says it returns to the kind of storytelling of Thr3e, so maybe I wasn't so crazy to be "anxious" about that!

Published: January 21, 2014

A copy of this book was provided for review by Worthy Publishing via Goodreads First Reads (although I had already bought and read my own copy and passed it along before I got this copy in the mail)
(Pictures above are of my First Reads copy).
(This is also the first DEKKER book of my own that I let someone else have my original copy.  I get attached to them an don't let them go).


Book Review: "City of the Sun" by Juliana Maio

Photo cred: NetGalley

I had read about and been eyeing up City of the Sun (Greenleaf Book Group) by Juliana Maio for some time so when I was invited to read it via NetGalley I jumped on it.  A World War II story told from the perspective of "Paris on the Nile" (Cairo), City of the Sun follows an American journalist, a Jewish refugee, and a Nazi spy.  I have always been drawn to stories from the Holocaust, but have never read one from the Egyptian perspective.  It was fascinating to learn how fragile (and vital!) a place Egypt was at the time.  Who knew!? The main three character's stories began separately, which started the story off at a somewhat slow pace.  Once the characters' lives started to entangle I was hooked.  I especially enjoyed reading about Maya (Jew) and Mickey(journalist)!  As Mickey is recruited by the US Embassy on a covert mission and becomes somewhat of a spy, and you find out Maya's brother is just the person he's looking for, the book becomes a page turner.  The Nazi spy I could have done without, although he was vital to the story.  He just seemed a bit forced into the story to me.  His parts of the story were quicker, which may be why I was more disconnected from him.  Mickey and Maya were more relatable and (sometimes) unbearably human, which is probably why I was more connected to their characters.  As these three characters' lives become more entangled, and their secrets more complicated, the story becomes more addicting.  Overall I really enjoyed it, and while years of history were stuffed into a shorter time period for the sake of story, I was very interested to glimpse a bit of history I was somewhat unaware.  I would definitely recommend this read, and make sure to read about the author at the end (it makes this story all the more interesting)!

Publication Date: March 10, 2014

This book was provided for review by NetGalley. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: "Growing up Dugger: All About Relationships" by Jill, Jinger, Jessa, and Jana Duggar

Photo credit: NetGalley


Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships (Howard Books) is incite given by the four oldest girls; Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger, of TLC's infamous family of their hit show 19 Kids and Couting.  Without an open mind I think many people won't like this book.  They'll open the cover expecting just stories, but if you have ever seen the show you know the basis of the Duggar's lifestyle and that's what you need to expect going into this book.  It is an interesting read whether or not you agree with their lifestyle and beliefs.  I have the same basic beliefs as they do, however when it comes to some technical points there are many differences, and that's completely okay.  It seems to mostly be written in a conjoined voice, and they specify when one of them is single handedly telling a story.  The book is as it says "All About Relationships" and each chapter is about a different kind of relationship.  It starts with yourself, ends with the world, and covers everything in between.

I enjoyed reading this, it's quick and insightful.  I too am a Christian, and I take the Bible literally.  There are some standards they follow that even I was like wow really.  It's not a bad thing, and they aren't condemning to others who don't feel led the same, it's just that going into reading this you have to understand there will most likely be lifestyle differences and not let that get in the way of the general message.  I really cannot stress that enough.  You learn a lot about what life was like growing up and how they were raised.  As you can imagine, with 19 kids, things had to be structured.  There seems to be a game plan for everything.  I was taking notes.  I don't plan on one day having 19 kids,  I imagine my family will be much smaller than that, but there are a lot of "strategies" they used that I was wowed by.  These "training" measures are ones I want to use on MYSELF.  Even if you don't have children, there is solid wisdom in this book that I think will strengthen every relationship.  Sorry for not being specific, I just don't want to give anything away.  There is value I read that I want to put in my relationships from friendship, to work life. 

I can't be overly specific, because I'm just not the kind of person that ruins a book for someone else.  I'd be more than happy to talk more about it after you read it.  The book focuses on God, the entire time.  And that's good.  There are some solid biblical principles that I believe, that I saw in a new way.  Even if I don't necessarily live these principles the exact same way, I saw some things in a new light.  I also found a bit in every section that I could apply in some sense to my own life.  In the end I would recommend this read (and have already actually face to face).  I would particularly recommend it to young girls.  Teenage years are so formative, and to see someone else who has successfully came through those years and while in those years lived their faith strong I think is important.

This book releases TOMORROW: March 4, 2014.  So hurry out to your local bookstore and buy it for yourself or as a gift!  Don't let your differences turn you away, read through to the end and keep an open mind.  I'm sure you will find some good meat in this book.  These girls are inspiring.

This book was provided for review by NetGalley.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review: "The Shepherd's Song" by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

Photo credit: NetGalley
Sister's Betsy Duffy and Laurie Myers novel The Shepherd's Song (Howard Books) follows a piece of paper with Psalm 23 written on it in a journey around the world.  Each time it is passed along, whether intentional or not, a different line impacts another character's story.  The journey of this piece of paper begins when Kate McConnell wrote and prayed over each verse for her son.  She finds herself in a serious car accident and wonders if she's done anything significant with her life.  Little does she know what impact her little gestures make.  The bible verse makes itself to 12 different people around the world; from America, to Turkey, to Rome and so one.  Eventually this piece of paper makes it's way back to Kate's son.

Each section is a little too quick, and leaves a longer to find out more about the character.  However, each story needed to be short in respect to the novel's entirety. Respectively so, all is revealed in the end.  Because of the verses and stories being sectioned out, this one is a quick read.

This novel is a great reminder of how much little genuine acts mean; like looking someone in the eye or writing them an encouraging note.  God uses our small acts for His great plan, and it's okay that we don't necessarily always know how much what we do really means.

The Shepherd's Song, released March 11, 2014, is a fast paced read with a solid reminder of how much the small things in our lives mean.  While the small stories are a bit rushed it all comes together in the end, so hold tight.

This book was provided for review by NetGallry.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: "The Tyrant's Daughter" by J.C. Carleson

Photo Credt: NetGalley

I was offered the opportunity to read an advanced digital copy of The Tyrant's Daughter (Random House Children's), by J.C. Carleson, which when the story looks interesting is honestly a hard offer to turn down. This story is that of a middle eastern, royal, teenager girl that was forced to leave her war torn country for America.  Although she speaks perfect English she has to learn to translate something even more difficult, an entirely knew way of life and culture, particularly high school.  The most interesting aspect of this book, in my opinion, is how the cultures are viewed differently in each place...meaning lead character Laila views her formal life differently in America than she did back home.  Interesting as well to see how American culture looks different through the eyes of a foreigner.  The events that drove Laila to America may hit close to home, as they are happenings that you may often read about in the news.  This makes the novel extremely relevant.  I would recommend for HIGH SCHOOL aged teenagers to read it.  Some content may be too mature for young teenage readers.  Due to the cultural nature of this book it would be highly educational to read.  It's a quick, interesting read that will take you suspensefully from cover to cover. I would also recommend this to teenagers who may not like to read, the sections are broken down into small parts, so it would not be overwhelming for them.  Overall I really enjoyed learning about a different culture through American comparisons. 

Published: February 11, 2014

This book was provided for review by NetGalley

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: "The Thief" by Stephanie Landsem

Photo credit: NetGalley

I decided to read The Thief (Howard Books), by Stephanie Landsem, simply because it looked interesting enough.  I never was one that loved speculative historical fiction.  I dabbled in it a bit last year, so I decided to give it a go.  The Thief follows a young Jewish spinster (Nissa), who becomes the best thief in Jerusalem in order to pay the rent and keep her blind brother (Cedron) fed.  She crosses paths with a Roman centurion (Longinus) who coincidently is hunting "the thief."  Her blind brother is healed by a certain teacher you may have heard of (Jesus), but instead of their lives becoming easier, they become a lot more complicated.  Cedron and Longinus become drawn to this teacher, and Longinus and Nissa to each other.  Nissa's web of lies becomes even more complicated, and her heart torn.  They end up in the middle of Jesus's arrest, trial, and crucifixion and  must decide for themselves what the Truth really is.

I DEVOURED this story.  I'm falling in love with stories that teach you to read scripture differently.  Not to just read the same words you've always read but to look at the story from every single angle.  I think then you are able to more fully understand.  It tears your heart up a little more, and that's okay.  There's something about imagining what it would have been like to be there, to see Jesus's eyes, to witness such true love and compassion.  It wrecks me.

I would definitely recommend this book, and I would actually read it again (which is rare for me, there are just too many new books to read!)

Published: February 25, 2014

This book was provided for review by NetGalley

Update: Enter to win your very own copy here!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date" by Katie Heaney

Photo cred: Goodreads

I HAD to pick up Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date," (Grand Central Publishing) by Katie Heaney, because it had been out for only one day and I had already read about it countless times all over the internet.  Katie Heaney is a 25 year old who has (kinda) not dated, but has surely never had a boyfriend.  I was smiling the entire time I read this book.  Her stories of "love," or at least the trials and hopes of trying to get there, start in kindergarten and work up to her  current age.  We are both Midwesterners, went to catholic grade school, had crushes on some of the same 90s heart throbs, and have never had a boyfriend.  Although I do really like Apples to Apples, and have not done some of the things she has.  Katie is over all pretty relatable; I found myself laughing, cringing, and wanting to cry. So relatable in fact that after reading about her younger hers, I myself had a weird middle school feeling, like it just totally brought me back.  I found myself reading parts out loud because I just couldn't get over how true they were (and how funny)!  I am baffled at how Heaney could write and publish this (I could never), but I am so glad she did!  As you follow her adventures in crushing you will learn so much more about friendship.  Some of these pages may be from her (Lisa Frank) diary, but more importantly it is a beautiful ode to her friendships. 
I think the last two lines sum of the book best "Falling in love is totally unimaginable to me.  I think maybe the best things often are." 

Published: January 14, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Frog Music" by Emma Donoghue

Photo credit: Goodreads

I received Frog Music (Little, Brown and Company,) by Emma Donoghue, for free via Goodreads First Reads. Had I not, I'm not sure I would have stuck with it. The storyline is interesting enough (at least the concept is). However, it was far too crude for my liking, especially in places that didn't lend to plot development. To be honest I was much more interested in the story once I finished and discovered it's based off true circumstances. The mystery behind that is quite interesting, and I'm not sure this novel played it proper homage. If the main characters were my ancestors I'm not sure I would be pleased at the assumptions placed upon their characters.  I would not necessarily recommend the novel, but would neither dissuade a reader from picking it up.
Expected publication: April 1st 2014