Between Two Shores

Y’all, you know it’s a good book when I can’t stop talking about it. Well, here my official review is, so I’ll at least stop talking about it for a while. ūüėČ

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 409
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Title: Between Two Shores
Fiction

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.46.15 AM.png
WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Jocelyn Green writes some of the best Historical Fiction, so she’s one of the few authors on my auto-buy (or auto-review) list. I was so excited when Bethany Publishers chose this as their book to send out physical copies to for their reviewers and right away jumped at the chance to have it in my library.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I have¬†so¬†many thoughts about this book – some of which I’ve shared on my blog and Instagram (if you want my extra bookish musings you can follow me there), but now I’m endeavoring to write an actual review.

Style: This book skips back and forth in time periods (over a ten-year range) which really isn’t my favorite but I see how it was necessary to tell the full story. Miss Jocelyn did a great job of keeping the backstory snippets suffice and on-point so they didn’t take away from the story we were in the middle of, plus she did a good job of keeping the time periods as unconfusing as possible.

Characters: I didn’t really jive with any of the characters, yet the story was so skillfully written and kept my interest to the point that my lack of relatability didn’t bother me.
Catherine: Seeing Catherine trying to bridge two worlds was heart-tugging and beautifully written. I can imagine that the life Cathrine lived and tried to be a part of was what a lot of children in that era experienced. Watching her struggle to find acceptance and purpose and her identity without actually saying that’s what she was doing most of the time was amazing and reminded me of what a great storyteller Miss Jocelyn was. Catherine was my favorite character and I’m so glad we got to see the world through her eyes.
Catherine’s Mohawk Family: These characters made the story for me. They hardly ever did what I wanted them to do, yet what they did was so in-line with who they were and I applauded every move they made as keeping in character, even when I wished they were different.
Catherine’s Other Family: Her dad and Thankful were both so thoroughly written and real and made me expereince all the emotions that an author should invoke in a well-crafted character.
I’m not going to say much about other characters because of spoilers, but I will say I wished I would have liked some of them more because if I had, then the one major plot twist would have hit me a lot harder than it did. More below.

Plot: This book really does focus mainly on the history of the time period which was a refreshing difference from Historical Fiction books that put far too much emphasis on the romance. In fact, every time I thought it¬†might¬†be going in a direction that would take away from the history Miss Jocelyn reeled it back in and I was like “Way to go!”
While reading this book I got so involved in the story that I literally couldn’t remember¬†who¬†won the war. We get to see it from Catherine’s point of view, and she’s pretty much being tugged every direction. Forgetting how the war ended actually really helped me stay riveted to the page and what to find out what in the world would happen next. It also made me skim some because of the suspense.
There was a plot twist in the book that when I first read it I was like “Oh.” But then as I kept reading I was like “Oh! My! LANDS!” And I knew how that plot twist turned out, in the end, would determine my rating for the book. Thankfully, the author did what I hoped and the book got a solid four-star rating from me.

CONCLUSION

Someone on Instagram asked why I only gave the book four stars while I was raving about it, so here’s my answer: I very rarely rate a book five stars (for example, last year I read 79 fiction books and gave only one of them five stars), that means that for me a four-star rating is actually really high. And, although I really liked Between Two Shores¬†and was exceedingly pleased with how Miss Jocelyn handled the plot twist and created the characters, the fact that the style wasn’t my favorite and I didn’t really relate to the characters held me back from giving it the illusive five-stars.

There were some battle scenes in the book that were a bit detailed, plus some abuse, manipulation, drunkenness, etc… But all of these were handled with care and the violence can easily be skimmed without losing out on the plot. (And, it was very realistic for a historical fiction book set during a war.)

RATING

I’m giving Between Two Shores 4 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Growing Forward

 

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Title: Growing Forward
Nonfiction

1

BACK COVER BLURB

After life is shattered by loss or a traumatic experience–whether big or small–it can seem impossible to heal or even move on. Deep down you believe God intends good for you, but you just don’t have the energy or strength to figure out how to move forward.

Author Laurie Pawlik has been there, and here she shares how she flourished despite multiple losses. Through practical tips and thought-provoking questions, she helps you take small yet powerful steps toward healing and letting go. She also offers insights and encouragement from the lives of strong women in the Bible. You’ll glimpse the painful losses these women experienced and learn how they flourished despite seasons of hardship and grief. You’ll discover how God shows His presence and power in the valleys, deserts, and storms. And you’ll feel a fresh sense of hope that, with God, you can redefine yourself, remake your life, and grow forward into a beautiful new season.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I don’t actually remember why I requested this book. It looks interesting though, and I like learning what helps other people and seeing through the eyes of people who have gone through things I haven’t gone through.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

While reading this book it was easy to tell that the author was a blogger. I’m not sure how to describe the style, except that there were several “segments” in each chapter, and quite often those segments reminded me of blog posts or at least snippets of blog posts. I’ve this done before where it bothers me, but this time I actually found the style made the book easy to read. There were plenty of places where I could set it down and then pick it back up without feeling like the flow was interrupted. This was good for reading whenever I had a few extra minutes.

The author did a great job of showing that her life wasn’t perfect, but without going into a pity party or too much detail regarding what she had faced. I really thought she hit a good balance with that, and it showed that she really has found a healthy way to deal with a lot of bad stuff – growing forward – which is what the book is all about.

There was a lot of solid information in this book. We got to look at different characters from the Bible and learn from their stories – what they did and didn’t do correctly and how people around them were impacted.

Sadly, there was also some information that I didn’t agree with. There were multiple things that I think are okay for someone to do on their own, but it can be dangerous to teach it in a removed setting such as a book. For instance, while talking about a very traumatic experience, the author said that every time it came to mind she would play the “What Then” game with Jesus, where she says what’s horrible, and Jesus says “What then?” and they keep going until she’s realized that He’s with her and she’ll be okay. I’m not saying that I think this is wrong, but it felt a little bit sacrilegious how it was written in the book. Which brings me to another part I didn’t like: I felt like she made God seem almost¬†too¬†human in the book. Yes, He’s our friend. And Yes, He can relate to us. And Yes, He loves us and wants to have a special relationship with us. Yet, at the same time, He is holy and deserves respect, and although I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean to bring Him down to our level in a disrespectful way, at times I felt like she did.

There were a few more things I didn’t like or agree with, like this sentence, God created crayons, paints, paper, shapes, textures, and tones – use His handicrafts to talk to Him!¬†I understand the point that the author is trying to make, and I agree with it. But God¬†didn’t¬†create crayons and paints and paper, and although it’s a little thing when the little things pile up they drop my rating of the book.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the book has a lot of good information, suggestions, and an easy-to-read style. I would say if you want to read it, go for it! Just read it with an open mind and match what she says against the Bible. ūüôā

RATING

I’m giving Growing Forward 3 out of 5 stars.

((I got this book from Bethany House Publishers so I could review it, all thoughts and opinions are my own.))

Bless Your Husband {What, She’s Reading Marriage Books Now?}

And she’s back with another book review!

I’m working at getting back in the habit of reading nonfiction after a long (unintentional) break this year, and goodness, reading nonfiction really is something I enjoy. So yay!

1
FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: October 16, 2018

BACK COVER BLURB:

Sometimes, choosing to love your husband is hard. Whether you’ve been married one year or 31 years, chances are he’s done things that have frustrated you, angered you, hurt you, or flabbergasted you. But after arguing over how to load the dishwasher yet again, you might be wondering how you can show him that you really do love him.

In as little as 15 minutes a day, you can do something meaningful for your husband and grow in your faith. From washing his car to writing a positive post about him on social media to watching his favorite movie with him, these pages are full of creative, simple, and interactive ideas on how to bless your husband. You’ll discover daily Scripture verses, inspirational readings, and journaling prompts to encourage you as well!

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK:

During the last few years I’ve read a lot of parenting books. I thought perhaps it was time for me to read some marriage ones, too. ūüėČ Disclaimer, folks: I’m not married, nor have I ever been, so I’m not exactly the target audience for this book. I just enjoy learning and growing and figured this book could help with that.

Besides, on a somewhat shallow note, I really like the cover. It’s crisp, clean, welcoming, cozy, and looks pretty much like an Instagram¬†photo.

WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS BOOK:

This book was a breeze to read through because it’s full of challenges that you’re supposed to work on as you go along, and then has a lot of lines for the reader to fill out how the challenges went, what they worked on, etc… Since I’m single I obviously didn’t do the challenges so instead of reading the book over a six week period, I read it in one week.

If you were to ask me to describe the book in one word it would be¬†Pratical. The book is full of good ideas, challenges, suggestions, and examples that all kept with the theme of being very practical and things that pretty much any wife would be able to do. It’s written for a large range of wives – those with everything under control, those who have lots of attention-grabbing little kids, and those who feel like their marriage is about to fall apart.

The author continually goes back to the Bible to back up what she has to say, and that was a big winner for me. She gives great ideas of things to pray for your husband, verses to memorize that will help you be a better wife, and how to find strength from God during hard times. She also shares candidly (although not in detail) how her marriage hasn’t always been a bed of roses, and how she’s had to grow as a wife. That made her seem very relatable and lent credence to her words.

The main thing that I thought was a little bit weird was that there were hashtags for each of the challenges. (Like, you make his favorite meal then if you want to post online you could with a specific hashtag, etc…) I understand that this is because the author has a whole online community for wives, so I guess it is nice for them to be able to look up the hashtags and get ideas. It just seems strange to me. ūüėČ

CONCLUSION:

This book was written for wives, so there’s obviously wife-ish things in it, but nothing too detailed.

Overall it was very encouraging, uplifting, and as I said, practical.

RATING:

I‚Äôm giving Bless Your Husband¬†4 out of 5 stars and am thankful for the publishers for sending me it for free. (Well, so I could write the review, but you know….)

In Hidden Places {Book Review}

Untitled-220

Find It On:
Amazon
Goodreads

Why I Choose This Book:

Miss Tracie’s books are really hit or miss for me – either I am delighted at how she weaves the story together with the history of that day, or else I’m annoyed by the romances and can’t stand the book. This one is set in San Fransico, a city I actually like, and therefore I decided to give it ago. (I don’t like a ton of cities, folks, I’m so much more of a country/small town girl.)

What I Thought About the Book:

First off, I’m quite amused that every other chapter in the book they were talking about how dangerous San Fransico is. In fact, I felt like we didn’t get much of a glimpse into the world building there, except for the dangerous side. Which, considering the book is about her brother who totally disappeared, I guess that makes sense. It simply made me laugh that I was like “Oh, I like this city so I’ll read this book” and then the book was like “This is a scary and dangerous place to be.”

Land sakes, people. The main character. Sheesh, she was one little stuck up snob, but not in the way that characters are generally stuck up snobs. It actually tickled me as much as it ticked me because she was really well written. And her character arch was really good. And she was all around a character who seemed very believable. But wow, she still has a far piece to come.

There were a few things that confused me – like why the main girl needed to get a job right away. It eventually made some sense to me, but I wish the need would have been developed more.

The friendship between the girls was nice, and somewhat of a spin on how I feel a lot of books are. The writing was descriptive. The facts well-displayed. It was interesting to immerse myself in that time period and realize how much has changed in the last 115 years.

I really liked this book, to the point where I would have given it four stars if it weren’t for four things:
1. The romance – most of the book it was fine and I didn’t mind it, but then at the end, it moved way too fast and I wanted to roll my eyes and be like “Yo! You don’t know each other so slow it down”
2. There were so many points of views. I know this is totally a preference here, but I have a really hard time when I get to know exactly what’s going on in everybody’s head. For instance, several of the characters think one guy is bad, but instead of letting the reader try and figure it out for themselves, we hop over into that guy’s head and find out if he’s bad or not. That took away a lot of the mystery and suspense for me
3. There was a little bit with the conclusion of the mystery that made me feel cheated. We’d come so far to figure it out and then poof! Mystery solved just like that
4. The writing wasn’t tight. Sometimes I think that when an author gets really good, they kind of ride on their own success, instead of ensuring that each book is as polished as it really should be

Conclusion:

This book isn’t one I would recommend for anyone under the age of sixteen. Part of the story takes place inside a brothel, which didn’t go into much detail, but still. Also, there’s some violence, but nothing detailed or creepy.

*Thanks to the publishing house for giving me a copy to review

Untitled-221

Where To Find Free Books {Vlog}

Y’all! Free books are AMAZING! It’s¬†so much fun¬†to get packages of books in the mail – especially when you don’t have to pay anything for them. I counted it up today and was rather surprised (and delighted) to discover that I’ve received 53 books in exchange for review already this year. And then after counting them I went and got the mail only to find yet¬†another¬†book package had arrived. #SoMuchCoolnessRightThereFolks

Do you get books free in exchange for review? If so, what review programs do you work with?

 

A Fantastically Intriguing Book – “Egypt’s Sister” {Book Review}

Egypt’s Sister

BY: Angela Elwell Hunt

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person ‚ÄĘ Fiction¬†‚ÄĘ 384 Pages

1

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

You Don’t Know Her Name. The World Remembers Only Her Greatest Friend:¬†Cleopatra.

Raised together in the Alexandrian palace, Chava, the Hebrew daughter of the royal tutor, and Urbi, an Egyptian princess, become as close as sisters–and rivals with their dreams of greatness. When Urbi unexpectedly ascends the throne as Queen Cleopatra, Chava believes their bond is strong enough to survive. But absolute power has a way of changing everything.

The ultimate betrayal rips Chava from everything she’s ever known and sends her to the lowest rung of Roman society where she must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and God’s will for her life, if she hopes to rise again.

Why I Choose this Book:

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and this is a time period I’ve rarely read anything about. Therefore, whenever I get the opportunity to review a historical fiction book that doesn’t appear to be overly romantic, I jump at the chance.

What I Thought about this Book:

Can we just take a moment to bask in the wonder of authors who are able to create such totally amazing books like¬†Egypt’s Sister? This book. Ah, how do I describe it? The world building was so complete and real and well-done that I felt like I’d been catapulted into Alexandria and the ancient world of power struggles and slaves and not being able to trust anyone, and all from the perspective of a naive little girl who danced through life with unbelievably drawn conclusions to life.

Chava was a brilliant narrator, because as the reader we could see the truth staring us in the face, but she was so blinded to it. I wanted to shake some sense into her, and wondered at the wisdom of her father for not doing so.

The first half of the book was by far my favorite. Everything about it was amazing. I realized later that I never actually connected with the characters, I never had the urge to laugh or cry. That’s rather surprising to me because I liked this book such a huge amount. I think what it all boils down to though is that the world building was so fantastically well done that I was intrigued beyond what most books have the power to accomplish. I went to the library when I was about halfway done with reading¬†Egypt’s Sister¬†and got all the nonfiction books they had on ancient Egypt. (Okay, it’s a small library and we had a grand total of four books on ancient Egypt, but still….)

This book made me want to study that era in history and take it all in and learn more, more, more.

One thing I greatly appreciated was the lack of sordid details regarding the debauchery and wicked lifestyles that took place in Alexandria and Rome at that time in history. It does mention it, and it’s certainly present, but I thought the author did a phenomenal job of not dwelling on it.

The second half of the book was still really well written and interesting, but I thought it lacked the undeniable pull of the first half of the book.

Another element of the book I greatly enjoyed was seeing how Chava’s Jewish heritage and faith influenced her decisions. There was a lot of good faith content in this book, although it’s obviously¬†way¬†different looking at the Bible through the eyes of life before the coming of Christ. It was so cool to see what life might have been like for Jews during that long gap of time that takes place between the Old and New Testament.

Conclusion:

Although it doesn’t go into details, there are still enough mentions of the wickedness from that time period the I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone under the age of 17 or 18.

Rating:

I‚Äôm giving¬†Egypt’s Sister¬†4¬†out of 5 stars and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review 

High As the Heavens {Book Review}

High As the Heavens

BY: Kate Breslin

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person ‚ÄĘ Fiction¬†‚ÄĘ 400 Pages

1

About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s caf√©. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

Why I Choose this Book:

Espionage.
Historical Fiction.
World War One.
Enough said.

What I Thought about this Book:

Oh my lands, folks. This book. This book was amazing. The first half of the book I kinda had my mouth wanting to drop open because it was nearly a five-star read and that happens about once every two years with me when I read a fiction book.

I’m still not sure what all the elements were that brought this book so seamlessly together in my mind, but it intrigued me, excited me, and made me want to keep reading, reading, reading. The writing was really fantastic, the characters seemed real, and I was totally unsure of who I was supposed to trust.

The main character was quite relatable and every few chapters we’d go back to her life before the war and see a glimpse of who she had been. I’m generally not a fan of that writing style, but in this case the author pulled it off very well. It gave a much clearer idea of who we were dealing with, and made the characters seem very real outside of the war effort. It made the war seem more painful, because we saw all the characters had taken away from them when the war started.

In the same way that I don’t know why the book totally drew me in, I’m also unsure of why, but the second half of the book took a bit of a downward spiral for me. I still enjoyed it and wanted to know what was going to happen next, but it was a solid three stars, not the five stars like the first half of the book.

The romance in the book was something that I skimmed over at times so I’m not incredibly sure how much details there were, but from what I read it wasn’t too bad, and there was an element that I’ll refrain from sharing cause of spoilers, but it made the romance way better than most books.

I don’t recall there being a ton of faith content in the book, but what there was it was from a Catholic perspective. The main character did have some horrors of war that she was dealing with, and so that plays a factor into the faith content part of the plot.

Conclusion:

There’s violence and other war-ish things that play a huge part of the book, but for the most part it wasn’t too detailed. Still, this isn’t a book I’d give to young (or even middle) teens.

Rating:

I’m giving High as the Heavens 4 out of 5 stars, and 7 out of 10

*I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review