Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review | Seagrass Pier (Hope Beach Series #3)

Seagrass Pier
by Colleen Coble
4 out of 5

Reading Seagrass Pier came at a busy time for me and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to get it read on time for my scheduled book review day. I always request hard copies of the books I want to read (always an old-fashioned one), but by some added bonus, I happened to also get the e-book copy. In a quick moment on a random lunch break at work, I opened the Kindle app on my phone (a hitherto hardly even glanced at app) and began reading…and I basically became glued to my phone for the next 48 hours. I read on my 15 minutes breaks, I read on my lunch breaks, I read a couple paragraphs in the bathroom (haha) and I stayed up late finishing it after I got home from work. It was good. 

I didn’t realize thought that it was the third in a series (The Hope Beach series) so at times I was a little bit confused as to who was who and what happened when, but aside from that, Seagrass Pier was an excellent execution of a modern mystery novel, coupled with romantic interests woven throughout the story. The writing was superb, characters relatable (even if I think perhaps the main character was a little too nonchalant about a killer stalking her! I’d have been scared beyond the ability to function!) and love story that you knew exactly where it was going but was exactly where you were rooting for it to go. There for a few different story lines and sometimes it felt maybe a little bit chaotic but that didn’t decrease the complete enjoyment that I felt through every turned (or swiped?) page. 

My only regret is that I didn't start out with the first book in the series. :)

I give it 4 out of 5.

Thomas Nelson via Litfuse

Colleen Coble Seagrass Pier

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review | Happy To Be Alive, Because

Happy To Be Alive, Because
by Chelsea Jacobs
3.5 out of 5

Avery is a seventeen-year-old girl whose reality has just been shattered by the death of her mother. Feeling a desperate need to flee from what has become her life, she follows a travel plan meant for her mom and her that leads her to the little beach town where her mom grew up. It's there that she meets a group of three adventurous friends who adopt her into their circle, allowing her to experience a summer she never thought would be possible after suffering such a great loss. Unfortunately, her summer full of experiences threatens to end abruptly when she realizes that one of the three has a secret that causes her to question everything about the new life she has been building.
Avery must learn to balance her grief and her desire for a future in order to achieve her mother's final wish for her: That she would be happy to be alive. [story synopsis taken from back cover]

I liked this book. It really changed my perspective on a lot of things. Because of it, I find myself thinking quite often throughout the day the things that I am thankful for that day. I even keep my own “Happy to Be Alive” journal. It was a great “journey” kind of story and I found it's message about being grateful for life to be very poignant.

I did notice a severe lack of anything Christian in it and Jesus wasn't even a factor in the book, which to me left a huge gaping hole. And for me, that was a cavernous hole, since without Jesus, what happiness really is there to be found in life?  A casual, joking reference to two unmarried young people sleeping together was briefly made but nothing was said as to whether the joke was just a joke because they WOULDN'T or whether they MIGHT have. It was just open-ended. Just that and a few typos, though, are my only negative things to say!

The author really did a fantastic job of really delving into pain and grief without it being too much. Some authors, in their efforts to communicate heavy, painful emotion, can become redundant and wearisome. This author, however, skillfully navigated it all masterfully. Kudos to her!

I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

 Nyree Press Via Litfuse

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review Promo | Raptor 6 & All My Belongings

Watch for forthcoming book reviews! But for now, here are the links to the sweet opportunities that come along with the upcoming release of these two books!!

Raptor 6
by Ronie Kendig

RAPTOR 6 Ronie Kendig

~    ~   ~    ~    ~

All My Belongings
by Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti asks what it takes to overcome your past and become who you were meant to be in her latest novel, All My Belongings. Cynthia has woven a heart-wrenching tale of forgiveness, grace, and learning what it means to truly belong.

Cynthia is celebrating the release of her latest novel with a fun giveaway and a live webcast event!
One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card
  • All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 11th. Winner will be announced at the All My Belongings LIVE webcast event on June 11th. Connect with Cynthia for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Cynthia will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.
So grab your copy of All My Belongings and join Cynthia and friends on the evening of June 11th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review | For Such a Time

For Such a Time
by Kate Breslin
4 out of 5

In 1944, Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, to maintain her cover as von Schmidt's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths, Stella appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's indulgence gives her hope even as she risks discovery with every attempt to help the prisoners. When her bravery brings her to the point of ultimate sacrifice, she faces an excruciating choice. God may have brought her to the camp for such a time as t his, but how can she save her people when she cannot save herself?

I've always been fascinated, in a heartbroken way, over the Jewish Holocaust of World War II. I've read books of first-hand accounts, watched documentaries, and movie or book set in that time period, I want to read it. When For Such a Time came up for review, I had my name down within minutes.

For Such a Time is more than just a story of Jew surviving the Holocaust because the author did something brilliant – she made it a parallel of the story of Esther, the Biblical woman who risked everything to save the lives of her persecuted Jewish people. As the setting and characters were of course different from the Biblical account, it was a step-by-step reproduction but was craftily done to parallel the story yet also maintain an air of fresh perspective.

Even though at times the story seemed to go in circles a few times, overall I felt this was a master-craftsmanship of fiction in light of it's biblical parallel. I am glad to have it as a member of my ever-growing book collection and it's one that I would recommend to anyone, whether they have an interest in the Holocaust or not.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Bethany House via 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday | How I've Fallen in Love With Love

There's a young guy at work that I love to hang out with. JM and I have gotten to be good friends, we tease each other mercilessly to the entertainment of everyone else, we stop and have five minute conversations when we both end up doing stuff in the dairy cooler room at the same time. He's one of my favorite people at work and we've actually developed quite a good friendship. He's dynamic, outspoken, hilarious, silly and he's known for constantly saying outrageous things. But he works hard and everyone knows that if you need help with anything, JM will be right on it. He's the kind of guy that it's impossible not to know is in the room with you.

JM is also a homosexual and an outspoken one at that. He's a cross-dresser and frankly, it took me a couple weeks to determine whether “JM” was a she or a he. I wasn't the only one a little confused. The initials of “JM” wasn't much of an indicator either.

 I'll be honest and say that he and a couple other gays at work are the first gay people that I have actually personally been friends with. I'm a firm believer that homosexuality is wrong and it's an abomination in the sight of God. But I'll tell you what...I love my gay friends

But it's been my interaction with JM and Emilio, another gay guy I've spent a lot of time with at work, along with just the dozens of other unsaved people that I've grown to love like they're my own family, that have taught me one of the biggest spiritual lessons that I've ever learned in my entire life.

And that's love. The unconditional kind. Love without limit, without restriction, without judgment, without condemnation, without prejudice or pride, the I-love-you-just-the-way-you-are kind of love. Not a love that says I approve of what you do, but a love that says I will love you no matter what you do or who you are.

Because that's the way that Jesus loves. Jesus love unconditionally.

 It can be hard to hate the sin but love the sinner and I think that in this, the church (God's people) have miserably failed. We see sin and we grab our children and quickly hustle them out of the way. We cocoon ourselves in our safe churches and wait for the sinner to pass by. We're so preoccupied with keeping ourselves pure and undefiled, safe and secure in the arms of Jesus, that we place concrete-and-barbed-wire fences around ourselves, saved on one side, sinners on the other.

But how will they know we are Christians? By our love. They know we are Christians by our love. What is love? Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not boast (ie. does that think higher of oneself). Love does not hold record of wrong. Unconditional love gets down in the gutters of sin, wraps up the lost in a firm, never-letting-go embrace and holds on. Unconditional love holds on no matter how inappropriate, how weird, how disturbing and how dirty the subject is.

I have been given a whole new grace to love my gay friends. I talk to them, listen to them talk about relationship issues, ask them questions about their boyfriends, don't look disgusted when JM brags on his sex-transformation and just give them the same kind of love that every single person needs. And a little extra more. I never say I approve of what they do, I never encourage them their lifestyles in my words or in the things I say but they're in my life and so I'm going to be in their's.

When the moment comes that I get to fully share with them that I'm a Christian who believes the Bible and everything that it says, I want them to be able to look back on every single moment that I've been with them and never once see even a hint of me holding myself off in judgment. That may not mean that I don't lose a friend or have an uncomfortable confrontation, but at least they'll hear the name of Jesus from someone's who never failed to love and value them for exactly who they are.

Unconditional love.

Love truly is one of the greatest things on earth and I'm really learning that these days. In fact, love has changed my entire world. When you find yourself loving, truly loving, the people that the Lord died for, there is no way that you can stand unchanged. Love changes everything.

There is a reason that "the greatest of these is love."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Book Review | It Had To Be You (Christiansen Family Novels Book #2)

 It Had To Be You
by Susan May Warren
5 out of 5

I’m a recent convert to the Susan May Warren scene, first initiated a few months ago when the first book in the Christiansen Family series, Take a Chance on Me, first came out. I didn’t get to review it prior to it’s release but I did check it out at our local library as soon as I was able to and was a Susan May Warren fan from the start.

Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen’s cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits—and starting to fear she doesn’t have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.

Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior—on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he’s getting from Eden Christiansen isn’t making things any easier. But when Owen’s carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.[story synopsis taken from back cover]

It’s a classic story of good girl falling for bad boy, but whereas that may be a well-worn story plot, there’s nothing well-worn about everything that makes this story exactly the incredible book that it is. You instantly love the characters – the heroine Eden is loyal, giving, spunky, yet her insecurities come across the pages in such a way that I found myself identifying with her so much in a very personal way, while what’s not to love about a bad boy turned good guy like studly hockey player Jace? What has really impressed me about the books by Susan May Warren is the level of personalness that really comes at you from every angle. It feels real, not just a two-dimensional love story but a 3D holograph of real people, the kind of people that you wish you could know in real life.

As happy as I was to reach the final romantic climax of Eden and Jace’s story, I was almost disappointed, because I wanted to keep going further into their lives, find out what happens next, etc. But I guess that’ll have to wait until the next book in the series! When that book comes up for review in my inbox, fellow reviews, watch out, because I’ll be jumping on it right quick. :D

I give it my personal favorite rating of 5 out of 5!

Tyndale Publishing via Litfuse
Win $100!
Susan May Warren It Had To Be You

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday | Why I Love the World & Why I Think That's Ok

I've never felt a huge personal burden for the lost. I've always been passionate about revival and further transformation of Christians and the church. To me, the unsaved were just a blank silhouette, like an empty facebook profile box where someone's not uploaded their photo yet. I figured that there were plenty of other people out pounding the pavement for Jesus, while my personal calling was for the church

Truth is, I didn't really know anybody who wasn't saved. My family is all saved, minus a few. All my friends were all second/third generation Christians. The only social settings or groups that I was involved with were either with church or various other Christian conservative influences. Everywhere I rubbed shoulders, I rubbed shoulders with a fellow believer in Christ.

Until seven months ago, when I accepted my job at Target. Every day since then, I have worked, sweated, talked, laughed, shared and just been friends with dozens of people who only know Jesus as a reason to swear. Suddenly that empty profile picture became the faces of my friends.

Of Yolanda. Of Miguel. Of Alex, Misty, Luis, Belen, Rose, Tom, Derek, Kayla, Stephen, Emilio, JM...the list of names go on. All of these people are my friends. My people. People I care about. People I've talked to, heard their stories, teased and joked with in the backroom at work. They have personalities, heartache, strengths, weaknesses and hurts. Some of them fall under the categories of best friends. Some I've even had small crushes on, haha. Some annoy me sometimes, some come to me with their grievances, some like to tease me because I'll tease back.

 I love my people. And the more I'm with them, the more I love each one and care so much about each one. And the more that happens, the more it cripples my heart that these precious friends aren't going where I'm going. That the way they're going is taking them to an eternity in hell. Suddenly, with the faces of my friends backdropped by the flames of eternal destruction, hell has become so much more real and eternity that much more forever.

And I cannot be silent about Jesus. Because my silence could cost them their lives. Oh no, I'm still terrible at it, it doesn't come naturally. Sometimes I just feel like the words that are coming out of my mouth don't make sense and I feel embarrassed because I must look so stupid. I still bypass those perfect opportunities because I talk myself out of it. But those opportunities, by God's grace, are becoming less. I'm just a tiny baby witness, who's big smile and constant positive attitude at work is more well-known than her faith. But that's changing. Because I can't let my friends, my work family, not know about Jesus any longer.

I'm so different than the girl who didn't care about the world overly much. Because I wasn't out in it. But now? I'm out in the world and I love the people in it.

The worst thing that we can do, as teens, as parents, as singles, as Christians...is to stay in our church circles where it's safe, surrounded by the like-minded and protected from the world's temptations by the cushion of our fellow believers...because then we will never personally know the people who need Jesus.


It's when we know them personally that we love them. And when we love them, then there's no way we could ever be silent about Jesus.