The Melody of the Soul

Update: Enter Giveaway HERE!

The Melody of the Soul

by Liz Tolsma

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads 

Third Person • Multiple Points of View (more than three) • Fiction • 320 Pages

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Back Cover Blurb:

By 1943, Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost everything, including her career as a concert violinist and almost her entire family. The only person she has left is her beloved grandmother, and she’s determined to keep her safe. But protecting Grandmother won’t be easy–not with a Nazi officer billeted below them.

Anna must keep a low profile. There’s one thing she refuses to give up, though. Despite instruments being declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to practice her violin. She has to believe that the war will end someday and her career will be waiting. Fortunately for Anna, the officer, Horst Engel, enjoys her soothing music. It distracts him from his dissatisfaction with Nazi ideology and reminds him that beauty still exists in an increasingly ugly world.

When his neighbors face deportation, Horst is moved to risk everything to hide them. Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals to her might break her trust and stop the music forever. . . .

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The book I’ve been working on writing for the last several years is about a violinist, therefore I jump at the chance to read other books about musicians – especially violinists.  Plus, I have a very soft spot in my heart for Historical Fiction that takes place during WW2. Maybe it’s because I’ve known people who fought in the war or because it’s such recent history, but I never grow tired of reading books – both fiction and nonfiction – that are set in that time period.

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While I am an avid WW2 Historical Fiction reader, I’m also a rather picky one. Therefore, you should probably take this whole review with a grain of salt, because there wasn’t really anything wrong with the book – it just wasn’t my favorite. (It still got three stars, but I went into it expecting to give it a higher rating.)

There might be very slight spoilers in the next paragraph, but if you’ve read the back cover then you basically know what’s going on – I’m simply going to talk briefly about the motive.

One of the things I dislike in a book is when one of the main characters changes from being a bad guy to a good guy because of a love interest. Although that wasn’t the main motive, that reasoning did keep coming up in this book. And, because I’m a picky little bookworm, that greatly lowered my enjoyment of the novel. I have a feeling this is probably wouldn’t bother most people, but for me and nearly made me want to stop reading the book. (Really though, I know that’s unjustified.)

We’re thrown right into life during WW2 in Prague – a place that once teemed with music but now beats with the sound of marching boots and the wails of families being torn apart. We follow the lives of…
Anna, who is working hard to keep her grandma safe after the rest of her family was deported.
David, Anna’s brother who is in Terezin – a place that has captured my imagination because of all the music that took place there. Beauty among horror.
Horst, a Nazi who isn’t sure what he’s supposed to believe anymore.
Stefen, a Nazi who is extremely sure what he’s supposed to believe and delights in being cruel.
and Patrice, an underground worker who has some very difficult decisions to make.

There was so much switching back and forth between the different points of views that I sometimes felt nearly dizzy with the fast-paced changes. Although all of the characters had good points of view, it probably would have helped me be able to relate to them a bit more if we would have stuck with just one or two of them.

 

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There was a lot of faith contained in the book. It was a good perspective to look at the war from – especially what the grandma had to say. I didn’t agree with all of it but they did make some very good points.

Although there is obviously cruelty and violence mentioned in the book due to it being during a war, I was thankful for the author not being too descriptive when it came to describing it. She hit a good balance with that.

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I’m giving The Melody of the Soul 3 out of 5 stars, and 4 out of 10

*Litfuse gave me this book to review

First Ever Book Review About Dating? (I think so, anyway….)

She’s Got the Wrong Guy

BY: Deepak Reju

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads 

First Person • Nonfiction • One Point of View • 162 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Why do the nicest women pick guys who let them down for one reason or another? The answers are not always straightforward. For some women, the issue is as simple as not really thinking through what they’re looking for or should be looking for in a man. Others feel they’d rather be with someone (and pretty much anyone will do) than be alone, while still others are unconsciously replicating patterns of bad relationships they learned in childhood or from traumatic experiences and don’t know how to stop the cycle.
Deepak Reju, writing from his years of experience as a pastor and a counselor, shares with women his perspective on how to assess a relationship’s strengths from the beginning, how to identify possible pitfalls, and how to have the courage to not just “settle” but to wait for a relationship that will be a blessing to both of you.

 

Why I Choose this Book:

Reading the backcover blurb brings up questions I’ve asked multiple times. Plus, the book (and especially the cover) seemed interesting.

What I Thought about this Book:

I was somewhat apprehensive when I went into this book – having no clue if I’d agree with the author on any or all of the points, but also extremely eager to read the book and figure out what the author had in mind. I certainly didn’t want a book of fluff, and I don’t think anyone would accuse this book of that. Mr. Reju dove right into the thick of it, and with examples and a grace-filled tone kept the book serious and on mark the entire time.

Part 1 Talks about what some of the problems with dating are today…. Such as people look at marriage and dating differently than they used to and so everyone is kinda scrambling around trying to figure out where we fit in. Or the fact that some people have wrong motives in a relationship. Or that some people have made marriage a sort of idol in their lives. It was all very spot-on and Mr. Reju crammed a lot of info into a few pages without making it feel rushed.

Part 2 Discusses ten different types of guys to avoid dating. Mr. Reju shared examples of a couple (or sometimes two) for each of the examples. I’m guessing the examples came from people who he’d known personally or possibly even counseled (or wished he could have), but he never specifically said. The ten types include guys like The Control Freak, The Unbeliever, The Angry Man, The New Convert, and The Passive Man. Again, what was said in this section was so good and if I had friends in dating relationships that matched any of these examples I’d totally want to give them this book.

Part 3 Was very short at the end and is about finding the right (Godly) guy. It also talked about how it’s okay to wait sometimes, and that waiting is a part of life and can help build our character and turn us into the person God wants us to be.

Overall I enjoyed reading the book, learned from it, and found it really interesting.

Conclusion:

At this point, I really can’t think of anything I disagreed with in the book. It does talk quite openly about temptations that dating couples (and really anyone) have, so, therefore, I wouldn’t recommend this book to young teens without parental guidance.

Rating: 

I’m giving She’s Got the Wrong Guy 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10

*I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review

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?

 

Another Great Book – “My Daughter’s Legacy” {Book Review}

Update: Y’all, it’s time for a giveaway!

Celebrate the release of Mindy and Leslie’s new book by entering to win the $75 Visa Cash Card Giveaway (details below) and by attending their author chat party Today!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • One copy of My Daughter’s Legacy
  • One $75 Visa Cash Card
Enter today by clicking HERE. But hurry, the giveaway ends today. The winner will be announced at the My Daughter’s Legacy Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Mindy, Leslie, and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!
My Daughter’s Legacy (Cousins of the Dove #3)

BY: Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Find it on:

Amazon

Goodreads 

First Person & Third Person • Fiction • 400 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Virginia, 1864

Therese Jennings cannot abide the thought of owning slaves. When her widowed mother inherits a plantation, Therese flees to Civil War Richmond, where she works as a governess by day and tends to wounded soldiers at night. But when trouble befalls her family, can she reconcile her obligations with her beliefs? And will love—whether with an old beau or a handsome new suitor—ever fit in her broken world?

Virginia, present day

Nicole Talbot’s life is back on track after years of substance abuse. Home from college for the summer, she’s finally ready to share a shocking secret, one that raises new questions about a traumatic childhood experience. But when facts she uncovers cast doubt on her family’s legacy, she must risk all that she’s gained—her fresh start, her family’s trust, and her growing relationship with a new man—to unlock the secrets of the past.


Why I Choose this Book:

I don’t even remember what made me want to read this book, and by the time I received it in the mail I’d totally forgotten what the backcover copy said except for it taking place in two different eras. (YAY! Going into books “blind” is my favorite.)

Warning: (Very) Slight Spoilers

What I Thought about this Book:

Completely honest bookworm moment here: I wasn’t enthused about reading this book. When I started it I was actually kinda bummed because I had another book that looked a lot more interesting, but because of review dates, I needed to read this book first.

Oh my lands, people. This book grabbed me by the second page and wow. I applaud the authors. If the book would have been shorter, its rather doubtful that I would have put it down, before finishing it. But, alas, I started it on a Sunday night and of course didn’t want to be sleepy in church, and therefore had to read it over the period of Saturday and Sunday.

What impressed me probably the most is how Nicole’s struggle as an addict was depicted. It certainly wasn’t the main plot point at all, but it wasn’t glossed over either. I thought it held a very balanced place in the book and that had me gushing to a friend about how important it is to include stuff like this in books.

Slight spoiler: The book is about a murder that the main character stumbled upon as a kid, like 22 years before. I don’t like books that include murder, and I don’t read murder mysteries. Human life is incredibly precious, and when authors toss the loss of human life around as a plot point or a scare factor I feel like that numbs the reader (and writer) to how horrible murder actually is.

But this book was totally different in that respect, and I wouldn’t consider it to be a murder mystery at all, although it was a mystery that contained someone having been killed. I thought it handled the trauma and loss of a life very well, nor did it go into needless details about violence.

The first storyline kept me so intrigued that I thought it was going to be hard to switch when they finally went back to the Civil War era, but no. The authors did such a good job with that storyline, too, that I was (although not instantly) pulled in and held fast. I applaud the way the book gave several chapters with each storyline at a time, instead of switching back and forth too rapidly. As a reader I was really able to get into each time period and character before being pulled out of it.

At first I really thought I’d like the modern storyline first, but in the end, I’m fairly sure that the two storylines tied for me. They were both intriguing, well-written, and had realistic characters that I could relate to.

The ending was as bit of a disappointment to me (which is fairly common with books I really like), and there were a few elements that were a little bit hard to find believable, but that didn’t detract too much from the book.

Conclusion:

The book isn’t what I would consider violent or gruesome, but it does take place during a war and talks about death, wounds, and slaves. (Cause, it’s the Civil War.) I felt like the romance in the book was nicely done (if I remember correctly – I read it several books back.

Overall I really liked this book.

Rating:

I’m giving My Daughter’s Legacy 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10

*I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review 

Books, Books, Everywhere!

Last night as I was going to sleep, I suddenly remembered that I had a book that was supposed to be reviewed around now. This morning I checked my emails to make sure I hadn’t missed the review date, and thankfully it’s still a few days away. That prompted a flurry of activity though, where I ran here and there and gathered all the books I have for reviewing, that I haven’t yet read.

My wonderfully proficient method of keeping track of the books I’ve received for review is to slap a sticky note on the cover with the name of who gave me the book (Litfuse, Tyndale Publishing, Moody Press, an author, etc…). Then either the date that the review is supposed to go live, or if there’s not a specific deadline, then the date I received the book in the mail (so I know my priorities).

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As I was gathering the books this morning, I realized that they’d once again piled up. I currently have thirteen books that should be reviewed between Monday and the end of August. I’m not even sure how many more books are on the way, because so many interesting titles keep popping up in my inbox begging me to review them. (I might or might not have signed up for another book this morning while sorting through emails to figure out which publishing companies sent which books.)

In addition to the books to review, books keep pouring in from other locations:

  • I have a stack of ten library books next to my chair
  • I’ve read five books this month from Overdrive (e-books from the library)
  • I signed up for several different author and publisher newsletters which supplied a whole slew of free kindle books; like, eight from just this past week. I’ve even begun deleting some of the emails without reading them. But, come to think of it, ebooks don’t take up any space, and if they’re free and look interesting? Well, I might as well go and download four more….
  • And to top it all off, I splurged and bought several books. (Because I highly recommend supporting authors by buying books – no matter how many you can get for free.)

Having this many books at my fingertips makes me feel incredibly rich. It amazes me how we live in an age where books are freely accessible to so many people. Instead of laboriously hand copying each book, we can mass-produce them. We don’t even have to print them any more – people can read books electronically. (And we have electricity! Just take a moment to ponder that.)

And speaking of wonders, I’m off to clean the house while listening to an audio book. How cool is that?

Where do you get most of the books you read?

NKJV Woman’s Study Bible – Book Review with Guest Reviewer and Giveaway!

Y’all! I am so excited about this review. When I first saw the option for reviewing this Woman’s Study Bible, I was amazed at the chance and right away requested it. There are three different covers to this Bible, cloth, hardcover, and imitation leather. I was thrilled when I was chosen to review the imitation letter version (which had been my top choice). When I received the Bible in the mail I was so happy with it that I carried it around showing it to my family.
Y’all. Of course it’s the Bible, so that makes it special. But, in addition to being God’s Word, the other features are put together in such a wonderful way that makes it beautiful, easy to go-through, and a delight to read.
My mom ended up asking if she could borrow the Bible for a few days, and of course I was happy to comply. Over the next few days Mom gushed about the Bible multiple times, pointing out various features that she enjoyed. In the end, she happily agreed to review the Study Bible. (YAY!) See her review below.
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What a beautiful, easy to read, inviting, Woman’s Study Bible!
I was intrigued when I opened the box and noticed the beautiful cover. It is the same study Bible I have had for several years, but the newest version. The updates have made using it very pleasant. The use of various colors, some flowered headings, and the slightly larger print made me want to dive into it.
I chose the book of Philippians for my first study.
Because this is a “woman’s” study Bible, there is an emphasis on finding and explaining about the women of Philippi. For instance, I had not realized that women play a prominent role in Philippians. It has more references to women than possibly any other single book of the Bible. Think of Lydia, the first European convert. The story of Philippi began in Acts with women “meeting on the riverside where prayer is customarily made,” it was led by Lydia.
Did you know that Paul’s visit to this city was his first visit to a “western” culture? So the Philippians are our cultural forebears.
I loved the section entitled Background Information – In finding out about the city’s origin I learned much to help me understand who the people of Philippi were – Philippi was a Roman colony, and as such had great privileges which made a tremendous social and psychological difference. They were exempt from taxes, could buy and sell freely, and were not under the same local government. These differences may have made Paul place a heavy emphasis on the virtue of humility in this book.
While the editorial content seems very similar to the older version of this Bible, the well-done use of color, the quality paper which makes for less shadowing and bleed-through, and the overall pleasing appearance made me desire to jump in and study like never before. I highly recommend this Woman’s Study Bible.
I give it a rating of 5 of 5.
♦♦♦♦

Enter the Giveaway HERE.

(And hurry! It ends today!)
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Find it on:
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About The NKJV Woman’s Study Bible

The Woman’s Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, The Woman’s Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman’s Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Features Include:

  • Beautiful full-color design throughout
  • Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
  • Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
  • Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
  • Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
  • Book introductions and outlines
  • Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
  • Quotes from godly women throughout history
  • Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
  • Topical index
  • Concordance

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?