High As the Heavens {Book Review}

High As the Heavens

BY: Kate Breslin

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • 400 Pages

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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 café. 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 

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible – Book Review

The Most Misused Stories in the Bible: Surprising Ways Popular Bible Stories Are Misunderstood

BY: Eric J. Bargerhuff

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person • Nonfiction • 159 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Are You Sure You Know What Your Favorite Bible Stories Mean?

A surprising number of popular Bible stories are commonly misused or misunderstood, even by well-intentioned Christians. In this concise yet thorough book, Eric J. Bargerhuff helps you fully understand the meaning of David and Goliath, Jonah and the Big Fish, the Woman Caught in Adultery, and other well-known Bible stories.

Providing fascinating historical and scriptural insights, Bargerhuff helps you sort through modern-day distortions of fourteen well-known Bible stories and grasp their original meaning and purpose for us today.


Why I Choose this Book:

The title intrigued me, and the conversation drew me in. I’m always eager to understand the Bible better, so this book was a natural one to gravitate toward.

What I Thought about this Book:

The title felt a little off to me – maybe like it was “click bate” (if such a thing is possible with a book…). The tagline about the popular way the stories are misunderstood seems a lot more on point, but I guess that doesn’t flow as smoothly.

A lot of good points were made in this book. I like the balance the author has with how much time to spend on each chapter – it didn’t feel overwhelming with a deluge of information, but neither did the pace feel rushed. He also did a good job of incorporating some personal facts and stories that made the book feel a lot more relatable.

He hit fourteen “major” accounts or discussions from the Bible, and then at the end of the book he gave a brief “conclusion” section where he gives a quick outline of various ways where even well-meaning Christians often trip up. I appreciated the attitude that the author portrays in the book – instead of making it sound like he was judging or looking down on Christians who misunderstand the biblical accounts that he discusses in the book, he points out how confusing things can be at times, and why it’s so important  to search out the scriptures.

Overall the book didn’t meet my expectations. It might be because I’d already heard a lot of the information that he presents us in the book, but I didn’t have a lot of lightbulb or “ah-ha” moments. I did enjoy the deeper look into the Bible though, because no matter how many times I’ve read biblical accounts, I can still learn more.

Conclusion:

There were several different theological differences I have with the author, but I still enjoyed learning from his well-researched book.

Rating:

I’m giving The Most Misused Stories in the Bible 3 out of 5 stars

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

Bread of Angels – Book Review

Bread of Angels

By: Tessa Afshar

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

Third Person • Fiction • 400 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances–along with her father’s precious dye–help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.


Why I Choose this Book:

Easy: It’s about Lydia in the Bible. I was named after the Lydia in the Bible and before this book I’d never seen a Biblical fiction book about her. I was thrilled at the chance to read this book – in fact I probably did a happy dance when I was approved as a reviewer.

What I Thought about this Book:

Who knows if it was the high expectations that I came into the book with, but for some reason the book didn’t completely blow me away. I did like it a fair amount, and thankfully I didn’t have any issues with it, but it’s not one of those books that I’ll be gushing about for years to come.

The plot was interesting – taking me in directions I wouldn’t have guessed and moving at a reasonable pace. The characters were well developed and easy to relate to. The world building was fairly detailed, even now a month after reading it I can see the courtyard and vats of purple dye in my mind.

Possibly one of the reasons I didn’t connect with the book as much as I was hoping was because it took place over a long period of time – over twenty years. They skipped most of those years and the transition was smooth, but it still tripped me up.

The faith content in the book was really spot-on, and there was a lot of it without coming across as preachy. I’m always amazed at how Tessa Afshar does that. And speaking of the author, I’ll have to say that I’ve come to really enjoy her writing. She does a fantastic job of making the world during the Bible times come alive with vibrant colors, smells, sounds, and textures. Plus, the way she weaves God’s truth into her stories? Wow. I’m am so thankful for her writing.

Conclusion:

Although this book left me wanting in the “gripping” department, I still enjoyed it and didn’t have any issues with the content. I would happily hand it to girls as young as fourteen or fifteen and know that they had a solid book to dive into.

Rating:

I’m giving Bread of Angels 3 out of 5 stars

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book

Books I Read in June {Vlog}

Good morning y’all! Even though there are several days left in June, I thought it would be fun to do a recap of all the books I’ve read in this month so far.

I really don’t feel like I read much this month, but that’s probably due to the fact that my reading was basically done in a couple of clustered, instead of steadily throughout the month. I’d be delighted to hear about the books y’all have been reading, or if you’ve ready any of the ones that I read this past month. 🙂

Overview of Books I Read in May 2017

During the month of May I was able to spend a lot of time reading which was fantastic, of course. I reviewed all the books on Goodreads, but I thought it’d be fun to give y’all a one-sentence-reivew for each of the books. Enjoy!

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  1. The Definitive Book of Body Language  – by Allan Pease and Barbara Pease
    2 Stars Body language is something I’m intrigued by and want to study more. This book kept me interested, but it was also kinda awkward, and had tons of evolution which I disagree with. (Nonfiction)
  2. Brave Is the New Beautiful: Finding the Courage to Be the Real You – by Lee Wolfe Blum
    4 Stars This book is beautiful and sad and happy and hopeful all at once and made me cry in public. (Nonfiction)
  3. Behind the Scenes (Apart from the Crowd, #1) – by Jen Turano
    3 Stars Let’s just say I don’t think I’ll be reading any more books by this author because they aren’t really my style. But, it did squeak in with 3 stars, so yay.
  4. Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make – by Jonathan Pearson
    4 Stars Delightfully practical, easy to read, an author that knows how to connect with his audience, and good information. Well, that’s this book in a nutshell. (Nonfiction)
  5. Policed (Kennedy Stern #3) – by Alana Terry
    3 Stars If you haven’t heard me gushing, Miss Alana is one of my new favorite authors. This plot wasn’t my favorite, but it was still well-written, and the characters were amazingly well-developed.
  6. A Portrait of Emily Price – by Katherine Reay
    3 Stars This book had a out-of-the-ordianry element that surprised me and made me really happy, because you know, it’s great when cliches aren’t present. Overall though, I didn’t especially appreciate the book, even though the writing was superb.
  7. Turbulence (Kennedy Stern #5) – by Alana Terry
    4 Stars This one left me wondering how in the world Miss Alana was going to have the outcome workout, and then she pulled it off extremely well. It’s interesting, makes me think, and feels really realistic.
  8. Straightened (Kennedy Stern #4) – by Alana Terry
    3 Stars This book is full of hot-button subjects (although, I suppose all of Miss Alana’s books are). It really made me want to study the subject more though, and I already ordered another book so I can dig deeper into the things the book talked about.
  9. Then Came You (Bradford Sisters Romance #0.5) – by Becky Wade
    3 Stars The best part about this book was the way it was written – the whole story was told through phone conversations, journal entries, and letters. That element intrigued me to no end.
  10. Every Bride Needs a Groom(Brides With Style, #1) – by Janice Thompson
    2 Stars Ahem. So, I read this book because I heard someone gushing about her writing, and I was in the mood for something really light and easy. I couldn’t handle I though. It was unrealistic and over-the-top goofy (or possibly romantic?) a lot of the time. #sorry
  11. True to You (Bradford Sisters Romance #1) – Becky Wade
    2 Stars Oops. I didn’t like this book. It was about a Navy SEAL trying to find his birth mom. That element I really liked. The romance? Eh, let’s just say it wasn’t written in such a way that I could even applaud it.
  12. Infected (Kennedy Stern #6) – by Alana Terry
    3 Stars This book drew me in right away and was a total page-turner for me. There were just a few little things that kept it from being a four-star book for me. Once again, the characters were amazing.
  13. Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways You Can Pivot to Your Best Career – by Robert Dickie
    3 Stars The beginning of the book was thick, chunky, and hard for me to get into. Near the halfway mark though, it felt a lot more practical. (Nonfiction)
  14. The Hideaway – by Lauren K. Denton
    1 Star Let’s just say I skim-read this book cause I’d agreed to for a review, and then I threw it away. The writing was well-done, but I didn’t like the plot.
  15. Road to Danger – Texas Fires by Ellen Edwards Kennedy
    3 Stars Believable characters, nicely-paced plot, and good spiritual content. The ending, bothered me, both oh well. I want to read more from this author.
  16. Road to Danger – Identity Theft by Alana Terry
  17. 4 Stars Ah, my new favorite author. Plus, the book is set in Alaska. And there’s mystery, but not creepy. The best of all worlds, pretty much.
  18. Road to Danger – The Assumption of Guilt – by Amanda Tru
    Three Stars This is one of those mysteries where you have no clue what’s going on, because the book skips huge amounts of info, and then the writer goes back and fills you in, and it’s intriguing.
  19. Road to Danger – Scent of Danger – by Alexa Verde
    2 Stars This book wasn’t extremely well edited as far as consistency goes, and that bothers me a lot. Plus, I didn’t like the characters very much, and it didn’t feel very realistic.
  20. The Princess Spy(Hagenheim, #5) – by Melanie Dickerson
    3 Stars I’ve wanted to read a book by this author for a long time, and I’m glad I finally did. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was still interesting. There’s a chance I’ll read more of her books in the future.
  21. The Lady and the Mountain Man (Mountain Dreams #1) – by Misty M. Beller
    3 Stars I received this book free for signing up for a newsletter, hence the reason I read it. It’s more romantic than I generally go for, but I thought it was fairly balanced. I really liked the main character and the friendship she formed with a teenage girl she met.
  22. Tournaments, Cocoa & One Wrong Move (Real Life, #3) – by Nancy N. Rue
    3 Stars This series is weird, but interesting. I’m still not sure what I think about it. The characters are extremely well-written, so that’s a big plus.
  23. The Summer of Cotton Candy(Sweet Seasons, #1) – by Debbie Viguié
    2 Stars Interesting concept, but too unbelievable for me to really get into. (Which, who knows, maybe it’s really believable after all? It just kinda felt like the author was grasping at straws.)
  24. No Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your Capacity  – John Maxwell
    4 Stars This book was full of practical, realistic, and helpful ways to do something worthwhile with your life. No lame promises of five steps to a better life here. The book was real, and didn’t make it sound easy.
  25. Limos, Lattes & My Life on the Fringe (Real Life, #4) – by Nancy N. Rue
    3 Stars Once again the characters were strong and well-developed. The plot wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but it kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Where to Find Free Books

Yesterday I was telling a friend on Goodreads about the different sites and publishing companies where I get books free in exchange for reviews. By the time my comment was nearly the size of a blog post, it occurred to me that y’all might find the information helpful, too. So, here’s a slightly expanded version of what I told my friend. 

Pretty much the only requirement you have to have in order to sign up for these programs is to have a blog that you update regularly. Some sites require a certain amount of followers, others ask about your page views per month, and others just want to know how consistently you blog. 

In 2016 I reviewed 44 books that were given me for free in exchange for review, and in 2017 so far I’ve reviewed close to 10, and have multiple more on their way. It’s a lot of fun and helpful for authors, bloggers, publishers, and readers alike.

So, without further ado, here are the review sites I work with….

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Litfuse

I really, really like this site! I signed up with it near the beginning of last year (if I recall correctly…) and I’ve requested more books from them than all the other sites combined. Litfuse send emails out with information about the book they have up for review, and if you’re interested in the book it literally takes like one minute to request the book (you have to fill in your blog info, etc…). Then they’ll email you if you’ve been chosen as one of the people to review it. If you’ve requested a physical copy of the book they make sure to mail it to you in plenty of time to read it by the deadline, cause this is one review program where you have to pick a day to review the book on, and then stick to that day. 

Moody Publishers  

With this review site you go straight to their website and request a book (or sometimes they allow you to request up to three at once). Before I started using Litfuse I used Moody Publishers a lot

One time I either lost a book that they had sent me, or else they didn’t send it (I still don’t know). But, when I asked them about it they graciously just sent another one – no questions asked. (I did explain that I might have lost it and offered to buy a replacement copy.) Anyway. They’re really nice to work with. 

Baker Publishing Group  

They (if I remember correctly) send out a non-fiction and fiction email each month with the books they have up for review. It’s generally just a few books to choose from, but very easy to request from if you’re interested. 

BookLook  

This was the first review site I joined – waaaayyyy back when. I haven’t used it in a while because I’ve been overloaded with books anyway, but they generally have a pretty good selection. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to go do some book “shopping”…. 

Tyndale Blog Network 

I think this is another one of those sites where they just send out an email every month with fiction and an email every month with non-fiction. (Sorry! I kinda get the different review places I work with confused….) 

Net Galley

I haven’t requested a book from here for a while because I have had questionable books from them in the past (meaning books I wasn’t comfortable with reading), so I figured it wasn’t really worth it when I had so many other review sites to work with. They do have a pretty big selection, though. 

Authors

After you’ve reviewed for a while it’s not uncommon for authors to ask you about personally reviewing their books. I rarely do that though, because I’d feel pretty bad if I disliked the book when it had personally been handed to me by an author. 

And… those are the review sites/publishers I work with. If y’all have any questions I’d be happy to try and answer them. 

What are some review sites that y’all have worked with? Which is your favorite?