Friday, November 6, 2009

Book Review: Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury

Shades of Blue
Karen Kingsbury
336 Pages

Shades of Blue is a stand-alone title from Karen Kingsbury. It is a story of forgiveness and healing.

The story starts with Brad Cutler. He is an advertising executive in New York. He is engaged to Laura and they are to be married in four weeks. He is working on an account about baby blankets. He can't concentrate and come up with a slogan for it. Something is bothering him. He finally realizes that an event in his past with his former girlfriend is standing in the way.

He is miserable. He must resolve the issue before he can get married. He tells his fiance and then goes to North Carolina to find his old girlfriend, Emma.

Emma is having her own problems. She can't put the past behind her and move forward.

Brad and Emma work through the past and eventually find forgiveness and healing.

Spoiler Alert

This story works through some tough issues. It works through the emotional pain that abortion causes to the people who have had one. It shows that the only way to true forgiveness is through God.

This was a very emotional story. The last third of the book, I had tears running down my face constantly. It is a good reminder that unresoved conflict can eat away at us for years until we take care of it.

I think that this is one of Karen Kingsbury's best books. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

Source: Library

Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger
Mariner Books
560 Pages

I had heard about this book from other book bloggers and then saw that a movie was made about it. I have always liked time travel stories so I logged onto my local library's web site and placed a hold on it. It had a lot of holds on it and took about two months before I had it in my hands.

The Time Traveler's Wife is told from two peoples point of view. The story of Henry and Clare is a love story that spans time.

Henry was born with the ability to time travel. He can't control when or where he goes. Sometimes he is gone for minutes and sometimes for days. A lot of the time, he travels to places where his loved ones are. He has viewed his mother's death over and over. He meets himself many times. He instructs his younger self on how to survive when he travels.

Harry has a big problem when he travels. His clothes don't travel with him. So he is frequently naked and without money. He has to learn how to steal wallets and clothes.

There is one place that he travels to more than any other. That is to a meadow behind the house of a little girl named Clare.

Clare is the other main character in this book. She meets Henry when she is 6. She leaves clothes for him in the meadow. She brings him food. He visits many times over the years. As time goes on, she falls in love with Henry. Henry knows that this little girl will eventually be his wife.

The story does go back and forth a lot. Sometimes it is hard to keep track of who is where in time. I have to look back and see what year it is. Even so, I think that the author does a fantastic job of telling the story.

There is a sub-plot about Clare and another man that I didn't like. There is also too much sex. I would rather not read about their sex life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review: Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently
Marcus Buckingham
Thomas Nelson
288 Pages

Marcus Buckingham is a consultant that specializes in strengths-based solutions. His newest book, Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, grew out of a workshop he did for The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Mr. Buckingham and his team counseled thirty women to help them rediscover the passion they were missing in their work. They followed them for six months and then came back together to see what changes had been made.

It was what happened after the show aired that caused him to write this book. After the show aired, over a million (mostly) women downloaded the workshop from and then lit up the message boards.

Mr. Buckingham has created a test called The Strong Life Test. It asks you 23 questions and then tells you what your lead role and supporting role is based on your strengths. In chapter 7, he defines what each of the nine roles are. The nine roles are: Advisor, Caretaker, Creator, Equalizer, Influencer, Motivator, Pioneer, Teacher and Weaver.

I was very interested in reading this book. I am in the midst of a transition and have been trying to decide what type of work I should look for. For me, the best advice that Mr. Buckingham gives is to examine the times in your past that were strong moments. What excited you. What made you look forward to going to work. You must pay attention to those moments and apply what you learn to the decisions you make about the future.

I took The Strong Life Test. It said that my lead role is Teacher and my supporting role is Influencer. These are not the roles that I would have thought described me. I am not saying that it is wrong but I am going to have to think about it more and see where those roles might lead me.

I would recommend this book for any woman who is not satisfied with her work.

Reviewed for Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger Program.

You can take The Strong Life Test here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's on My Nightstand - September

What's On Your Nightstand

Looks like the last time I participated in What's on My Nightstand was April. It is time to dive back in. Since I have already posted my Fall reading goals for Callapidder Days Fall Into Reading, I will be picking from that list.

Here is my list for this next month in no particular order:

  • Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham
  • HTML In Easy Steps by Mike McGrath
  • Beginning Programming with Java For Dummies by Barry Burd
  • National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris
  • The Creative Photographer by John Ingledew
  • The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
  • Green by Ted Dekker
  • Eleventh Guest by Bodie & Brock Thoene
  • Left Behind: The Kids Books 1 and 2

    Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009

    Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge. It is a challenge to list the books that you want to read this fall and at the end post how you did.

    These are the books that I am going to read this fall:


    • Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham
    • HTML In Easy Steps by Mike McGrath
    • Beginning Programming with Java For Dummies by Barry Burd
    • SQL Demystified by Andy Oppel
    • National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris
    • The Creative Photographer by John Ingledew
    • First things First by Kurt Warner


    • The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
    • Green by Ted Dekker
    • Eleventh Guest by Bodie & Brock Thoene
    • 1st To Die by James Patterson
    • 2nd Chance by James Patterson
    • Left Behind: The Kids Books 1 and 2
    • Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury
    • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
    • Forgiven by Shelley Shepard Gray

    That makes a total of 17 books. As you can see from the non-fiction titles, I am trying to teach myself programming and photography. We will see how that goes.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Review: Next Generation New Testament Audio Bible

    I received the Word of Promise Next Generation - New Testament: Dramatized Audio Bible through the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program. It includes 3 MP3 CDs and a behind the scenes DVD. It features an all-star cast. It uses the International Children's Version of the Bible.

    From the publisher's website:

    Now the entire New Testament is ready for the Wired Generation.

    Today's youth ingest media at a faster rate than any previous generation. And they can't get enough! The Word of Promise: Next Generation - New Testament is the perfect way for young multi-taskers to absorb Scripture. This ambitious recording makes the Word accessible to more kids than ever before.

    Starring a Hollywood-level cast of young talent including Cody Linley (Hanna Montana, Dancing with the Stars) as Jesus, AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Mary Magdalene, Jordin Sparks (American Idol Winner) as Elizabeth, Cobin Bleu (High School Musical) as Peter, Alyson Stoner (Cheaper by the Dozen) as Martha, and narrated by Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings). The project includes informative book introductions by author Max Lucado and his daughter, Jenna Lucado, who is a speaker on the Revolve® Tour.

    My children were excited to be able to listen to the Bible. They put the audio files on their mp3 players. They both thought it was a good way to learn what the Bible says. They liked recognizing the voices of some of their favorite actors and actresses.

    I thought that the readings were good. The readings weren't as polished as they would be if adult voice artists were used. The translation, International Children's Version, does a good job of modernizing the dialogue.

    I would recommend this for children 8-13.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

    Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
    Max Lucado
    Thomas Nelson
    224 Pages

    Fear confronts us everywhere we look. We are reminded of our fears when we watch the news or read the newspaper. We are afraid of what will happen at our child's school. We are afraid when we go to the doctor. We are afraid when we look at our finances.

    In Max Lucado's latest book, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear, he brings our fears into the light so that we can face them and overcome them. He devotes a chapter each to 13 of the most common fears we face. He uses scripture and anecdotes to illustrate how to overcome fear through faith.

    I found this book to be very easy to read. It is not a deep theological discussion. It is written so that anyone can understand and apply this to their life. It includes a comprehensive study guide that would be good for personal or small group study.

    If you need some help overcoming fear in your life or know someone who does, this would be a good book to read.

    If you would like more information about this book, you can click Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fearto go to Amazon or click on The Fearless Times.

    Rating: 5 out of 5

    Reviewed for Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger Program.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    Summer's Over

    Wow! The summer flew by. We seemed to spend most of the summer at the Little League Park. My son played in the major division for the first time. His team won the regular season. Then he played on the 9-10 All Star team. We went 2-2 in district pool play and didn't move on. Then he started playing in a fall league that is still going on.

    My daughter played softball for the first time. She has such a small strike zone, that she walked most of the time. She played right field. I think that she enjoyed the team camaraderie more than the actual game. But she says she would like to play again next year.

    School started August 12. That seems so early to begin the school year. So now we are getting back into studying and memorizing and projects. The kids were very glad to be back with their friends but not so glad to get back to the schoolwork.

    Our fall sports season has started. My son has started hockey training camp. He has moved up to the Pee-wee level. He is a full-time goalie. He will have to adjust to the faster pace of the game.

    My daughter will be starting dance classes again. We are still trying to decide what form of dance she will be taking. It will probably be ballet or tap.

    As for me, the little girl that I have been babysitting 3 days a week will be going to preschool now. So I will have more time to work on this blog. But I will also be looking for other ways to replace the babysitting income.

    I will have several reviews posted this week. I am also working on some author spotlights.

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    What's on my Nightstand - April

    What's On Your Nightstand

    It is time for the monthly What's on my Nightstand post hosted by 5 minutes for books.

    It was a good month for reading. I read most of the books on my list and added a few others. Here is the list of what I read last month:

    • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (My Review)
    • Weekend Makeover by Don Aslett
    • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
    • Beauty by Robin McKinley
    • The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley
    • Michal by Jill Eileen Smith
    • Blog Blazers by Stephane Grenier
    • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    • Take One by Karen Kingsbury (My Review)
    • The Noticer by Andy Andrews (My Review)

    On my nightstand for next month:

    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (for Classics Bookclub)
    • The Prayer Chest by August Gold and Joel Fotinos
    • Inside the Revolution by Joel C. Rosenberg
    • Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
    • Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen
    • Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker
    • Tenth Stone by Bodie & Brock Thoene

    Little League starts this Saturday and both of my children are playing. Maybe I can read between innings. Maybe I just won't sleep. Anyway, it should be a busy but enjoyable month.

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

    The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective.
    Andy Andrews
    Thomas Nelson
    176 Pages

    I was very happy to receive a copy of The Noticer by Andy Andrews from Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program. I have read several of Andy Andrews books and heard him speak several times.

    The Noticer is a story about an old man named Jones. Not Mr. Jones as he tells everyone, just Jones. At first, he seems to be a drifter. But as the story progresses, he seems to be much more. He finds people that are at a crisis point in their life and shows them a new perspective.

    He talks to a young homeless man, a married couple headed for divorce, a worrier, teenagers, an old woman who feels useless, a business man who cuts corners to achieve the "big picture" and many others. He talks to them about how they can put their life in perspective and make it into something better.

    I think that just about anyone can identify with one (or more) of the people in this book. I certainly did. I intend to reread that section and apply Jones' advice in my life. There is a good study guide in the back with some very thought provoking questions to ponder.

    The Noticer is a quick read. It is meant to help the reader gain a new perspective on their own life. I found it enjoyable and it gave me a lot to think about.

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Review: Hallmark Card Studio 2009

    I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at sending cards. I never seem to remember until the birthday or event is already here or past. I would like to do more than just send a quick e-mail saying "Happy Birthday". I think that I now have the tool I need to help me do that.

    I was asked to evaluate and review Hallmark Card Studio 2009 (HCS). HCS gives you the ability to create and personalize cards for just about any occasion. It has over 5,000 Hallmark cards and projects for all occasions. It has over 600 designs and 9,000 clip art images.


    The disk is a dvd and needs a dvd drive. If you only have a CD-ROM drive, you can exchange it for a cd version for free. Details are on an insert with the dvd.

    Installation was easy. After putting the disk in the drive, I just followed the prompts on the screen. One of the prompts asks if you want to setup a kid lock. Some of the cards have content that is inappropriate for children. So I chose to set a password for that content. It took 14 minutes to completely install. If you register after installing, you will be able to download a bonus collection of birthday cards.

    Card Making

    There are thousands of pre-made cards that you can click on, personalize and print in minutes. There are cards for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. There is a day-by-day section that has cards for thank you, friends, secret pal, bon voyage, sympathy and get well. There are also cards in Spanish and for step-families.

    If you would like to start from scratch, you can choose the art studio. The art studio allows you to use their clip art and sentiments or use your own.

    If you wish, you can personalize cards by adding your own photos.

    Other Projects

    You can make more than just cards. There are options to make photo cubes, frames and mini albums. You can make announcements and invitations. There are also calendars, gift tags, stickers, envelopes, labels, stationary and note cards. You can even make scrapbook pages.

    Event Planner

    HCS has an event planner built in. It is an onscreen calendar that has most holidays already on it. You can add your friends and families birthdays and anniversaries. I am hoping that after I finish entering all the information in it, it will help me remember who I need to make cards for.


    I found this program very easy to use. I was able to find cards for most occasions I could think of. I found it easy to create a card from scratch. I was pleased with how fast the program moved from screen to screen. I look forward to making some of the other projects.

    I would recommend purchasing card stock to print the cards on. It gives the cards a more professional, finished look.

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Wednesday, April 8, 2009

    Book Review: Take One by Karen Kingsbury

    Take One (Above the Line Series #1)
    Karen Kingsbury
    352 Pages

    Take One is the latest book by Karen Kingsbury. It is the first of a four book series called Above the Line.

    Most of this story takes place in Bloomington, IN. During the course of the story, Chase and Keith meet the Baxter and Flanigan families that millions have come to love from Karen's other books.

    There are two story lines. The first one is about the making of the movie and all the problems they encounter. The second one is about Keith's daughter, Andi, and her roommate Bailey Flanigan.

    Keith and Chase are trying to make a movie that will inspire and change people's lives. They are limited by a very tight budget. Things start to go wrong right from the beginning of the shoot. One star has a fit over what is served for breakfast and another star is bitten by a dog. Then the union causes problems for the crew. Every delay is costing them money. Without another investor, they will have to close down the shoot and admit failure.

    Andi and Bailey are freshmen at Indiana University. Bailey is dating Tim but has strong feelings for Cody. Andi is going through a crisis of faith. She grew up as a missionary kid in Indonesia. Now that she is on her own, she is unsure if what she was taught is really relevant in today's world. She wants to live a little.

    I enjoyed this book on several levels. First, it was a good story. Plot and characters were well written. Second, I enjoyed the familiar setting. The inclusion of the Baxter family made me feel like I was seeing old friends again. Third, I was very moved by an illustration of the power of prayer. When the union is causing trouble, the community comes together to "pray until something happens".

    Karen Kingsbury has again written a story that will appeal to many people. I look forward to the next book in the series, Take Two, which releases June 23, 2009.

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Classics Book Club: Around the World in 80 Days

    Classics Bookclub

    This months classic is Around the World in 80 Daysby Jules Verne. I remember reading an Illustrated Classic Edition of this story when I was young. This was my first time reading the full story.

    I really enjoyed this story. The idea of just traveling for almost three months is very appealing. Today, traveling is just a means of getting where we are going. We can go anywhere in the world in a very short amount of time. My husband and I would love to someday take a train trip across the country. I think that would be a great way to see the country.

    I found that I enjoyed the character of Passepartout the most. He was the one who had most of the adventures. He saw the sights. He experienced the local cultures and food. He enters a forbidden pagoda in India. He helped rescue Aouda. He helps rescue the train from the Indians and then gets captured by them. He was full of energy and curiosity.

    I think this book would be very good for boys to read. I am always on the lookout for something interesting for my 10 year old son. He likes to read but it needs to have some adventure in it or he loses interest. I think that he would like this story.

    If you would like to read more discussions of Around the World in 80 Days, check out 5 Minutes for Books.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    What is on my Nightstand - March

    What's On Your Nightstand

    It is time once again for What's On Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.

    I was only able to read 3 books last month:

    • The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton (My Review)
    • Luke's Story by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
    • The Shack by William P. Young (My Review)

    I am currently reading:

    • Weekend Makeover by Don Aslett
    • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

    I have a lot of books on my nightstand that I hope to get to this month. With spring break coming up, I am not sure how much reading time I will have. So, here goes:

    • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
    • The Prayer Chest by August Gold and Joel Fotinos
    • Beauty by Robin McKinley
    • The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley
    • Inside the Revolution by Joel C. Rosenberg
    • Blog Blazers by Stephane Grenier
    • The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging
    • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    • Take One by Karen Kingsbury

    Now I can go see what other bloggers have on their nightstands and I am sure that my list will grow and grow and grow.

    Book Review: The Shack by William P. Young

    The Shack
    William P. Young
    Windblown Media
    256 pages

    The Shack was recommended to me by many people. I read reviews on book blogs that I follow. My friends and family on Facebook recommended it. Some said it was the best book they have ever read. When I checked it out of the library, the librarian told me to have tissues handy. So I was really looking forward to reading it. Now that I have finished it, I have mixed feelings about it.

    First, about the book. From the back of the book:

    Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

    Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

    In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

    This book seemed to me to be two different stories. The first story is about Mack and what happens to his family and how they deal with it. The second story is about what Mack experiences in the shack.

    The first story reads like any other story of tragedy. How it effects people and how the people involved deal with it. And on that level, it is a good story.

    The second part reads more like a dream. It's style reminds me of The Pilgrim's Progress. When Mack meets God in the shack, he meets God in all three persons. He calls God the Father, "Papa", even though God is personified as a woman. He is taken aback by Jesus' appearance. He is expecting Him to look like we see Him portrayed in the movies. Instead, He looks like an average looking Jewish man. The Holy Spirit is personified as a woman named Sarayu who is hard to focus your eyes on. She is colorful, translucent and rarely still. Papa, Jesus and Sarayu help Mack find his way past the pain to forgiveness and love.

    The more I think about this part of the story, the more I don't care for it. God is portrayed as human-like and flawed. He marginalizes institutions like church, seminaries and even marriage. According to this book, all God cares about is relationships. If we love Him, then that is good enough for Him. It suggests that people can come to God on any path.

    I feel like I cannot recommend this book. To me, this is not an accurate depiction of how the Bible describes God. I know that many people will disagree with me, but this is how I feel.

    Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Book Review: The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton

    The Great Eight
    Scott Hamilton with Ken Baker
    Thomas Nelson Publishers
    224 pages

    I was very excited to receive a copy of The Great Eight to review from Thomas Nelson. I have been a fan of Scott Hamilton's figure skating for a long time. I was intrigued by the subtitle: The Great Eight: How to Be Happy (even when you have every reason to be miserable). He has certainly had reasons to be miserable.

    From the back cover:

    From Gold Medalist to cancer and brain tumor survivor, Scott Hamilton has experienced the heights of accomplishment to the depths of disease. But through his successes, struggles, and setbacks, Hamilton has never lost his trademark humor and honesty. But more important, he has never lost his faith and optimism. Hoe does he keep smiling?

    In The Great Eight, Scott uses stories from his international career and personal life to describe the eight secrets that - through commitment and repetition - have helped him "clear the ice," get back up, and "smile like Kristi Yamaguchi".

    Most of Scott's eight secrets are common sense, but very few people try to do all eight of these things. We know that when we fall (or fail), that we need to get up and keep going. Reading about Scott's approach to each of these secrets makes it a little easier to see how to apply them to my own life.

    Number four on the list, keeping the ice clear, is a difficult one for me. He says that trying to please others all the time is a recipe for unhappiness. He had to learn how to have open and honest communication about what he felt and needed. Many times in my life I have felt unhappy because I didn't communicate what I needed and was left out.

    Another good one is learn a new routine. Don't fight the changes that life brings. Use change as an opportunity to grow.

    This book is filled with stories from Scott's life that illustrate the point that he is trying to make. The only thing that bothered me was that the life stories kept going back and forth and some were repeated several times. But then again this is not an autobiography.

    It is a good book to remind us of options that we have to live happier lives.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    What is on my Nightstand - February

    What's On Your Nightstand

    It is time once again for What's On Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.

    Last month, I read 6 books:

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Ninth Witness by Bodie Thoene
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney
  • The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke
  • Every Now & Then by Karen Kingsbury
  • This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury
  • I hope to read the following books in March:

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (for the Classics Book Club on 5 Minutes for Books).
  • The Prayer Chest by August Gold & Joel Fotinos
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  • The Great Eight by Scott Hamilton
  • Weekend Makeover by Don Aslett
  • Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    What is on my Nightstand - January

    What's On Your Nightstand

    It is time once again for What's On Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. With all the bad weather outside and the various illnesses inside, I managed to read 9 books this month.

    • House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo (My Review)

    • Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

    • Eighth Shephard by Bodie Thoene

    • Kiss by Ted Dekker (My Review)

    • High Calling by Evelyn Husband with Donna Vanliere

    • Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

    • A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

    • Miss Fortune by Sara Mills

    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

    I hope to have more reviews up soon.

    The following books are on my nightstand for February:

    • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

    • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

    • Ninth Witness by Bodie Thoene

    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney

    • The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

    • The 39 Clues Books 1 and 2 by Gordon Korman

    • Peculiar Treasures by Robin Jones Gunn

    • Every Now & Then by Karen Kingsbury

    • This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury

    I hope to read Why the Caged Bird Sings and Les Miserables for the Classics Book Club on 5 Minutes for Books.

    Book Review: Kiss by Ted Dekker & Erin Healy

    By Ted Dekker & Erin Healy
    336 pages
    Published by Thomas Nelson 2009

    Kiss is the latest book by Ted Dekker. He co-wrote it with Erin Healy. Unlike Dekker’s collaboration with Frank Peretti in House. I was not able to easily identify who wrote what. The writing was much more seamless.

    From the Thomas Nelson Product Page:

    Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

    After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion. Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged.

    Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it. In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

    There is a good mystery surrounding Shauna. Why she can’t remember is just as important as what she can’t remember. Can she trust the man who says he loves her? What about the reporter that has gone into hiding? Will she ever gain the approval of her father? As she seeks the answers to these questions, she finds that she has developed a special kiss. She uses this ability to find out what happened. She doesn’t always use it wisely either.

    I only had one problem with the story. I think it would have been better to have her father run for governor or senator instead of president of the USA. The security and media attention surrounding a presidential candidate and his family are intense. I think that many of the things that Shauna found out would have been discovered by the media or opposing party before her father would have gotten the nomination.

    I think that this is Ted Dekker’s best stand-alone story. It reminds me of Blink which is on my all-time favorite list. I look forward to Dekker and Healy’s next book, Burn, which is due out in January 2010.

    If you would like to read the first two chapters of this book, you can visit the official books site:

    Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Book Review: House of Dark Shadows

    House of Dark Shadows
    By Robert Liparulo
    304 pages
    Young Adult Suspense
    Published by Thomas Nelson 2008

    House of Dark Shadows is the first book in the Dreamhouse Kings Series. It was sent to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers to review.

    The story starts out 30 years ago with a woman screaming. An unknown giant of a man is carrying her down the hallway of the house. Her young children and her husband try to rescue her but are overpowered by the strong man. He takes her through a mysterious door in the attic and they are gone.

    Talk about starting out with a bang. I was out of breath (I must have been holding my breath), tense and ready to read more and that was just the Prologue.

    Fast Forward to the present day. Xander is a 15 year old boy who is not very happy. His father has taken a new job. Xander, along with his 12 year old brother David and 9 year old sister Toria, have to move from the big city of Pasadena to a small town in Northern California. They move into an old Victorian fixer-upper.

    But all is not as it seems in this house. They go into a linen closet and come out in a locker at the school. They find giant footprints in the dust. Xander and David find a secret passageway that leads to a hidden attic. In this attic, there is a hallway with a number of doors. Each door opens to reveal a small room with another door in the back. Each room has a theme. In one room, there is beach stuff. Another has snow gear.

    This book then races forward with the boys discovering the secret of the rooms and find that their dad has his own secret about the house. Near the end of the book, the giant man comes back and leaves us with a cliffhanger ending.

    I think this would be a good book for any young person 12 and up. There is plenty of action and suspense.

    I was a little disappointed that there was no mention of God in this story. No one prays when in peril. No one seeks God’s direction or help. I would have expected a book published by Thomas Nelson to have a bit of spiritual content.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading the sequel, Watcher in the Woods.

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Happy New Year

    Happy New Year!! It has been almost 3 weeks since I have been on here. The holidays were filled with family and fun. I even managed to find time to read. Now it is time to blog about the books that I read. I will also be blogging about other reading-related subjects. I want to explore how to buy books for less. I will be writing about authors, publishers and magazines.

    One of my personal goals for this year is to get rid of the clutter in my life and in my house. Like many of you, I have books piled up all over my house. I want to collect them all into one area and decide what to do with them all. I must decide what to do with the ones I do not need to keep. So we will explore the many avenues for selling and donating books.

    I am calling this my Book Clutter Challenge. My first goal is to gather the books and count them. Feel free to join in the challenge.