Tag: book review

Book Review: Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle , by Tony Evans

warfare
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle
Author:   Tony Evans
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   5 out of 5

So many people have problems they’re fighting:  depression, drug use, anger, divorce, financial problems…the list goes on and on. But these are just the symptoms of a much greater problem. The real battle isn’t with these issues, it’s with the devil and his armies.

Tony Evans shows us how to fight these enemies—and win. He shows you how spiritual warfare is impacting your life and those around you, what effect these enemies are having, and the weapons at your disposal. He’ll show you how to become a victor over the enemies in your life. This truly is a war.

Tony Evans uses powerful teaching in an easy-to-understand style as he lays out the battles facing us every day, before he turns to the weapons to use to fight back, and the power that stands behind us. This a wonderful, powerful book for all Christians to read.

Dr. Tony Evans is an evangelical leader, pastor, and speaker. Warfare: Winning the Spiritual Battle is his newest book.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Things I’d Rather Do Than Die, by Christine Hurley Deriso

things I'd rather do than die
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   Things I’d Rather Do Than Die
Author:   Christine Hurley Deriso
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Jade Fulton is a senior in high school who only hangs out with her best friend. She spends time with her family:  her brother, half-sister, stepmom, and her dad. She watches high school drama from the outside and can’t wait to go away to college. Until her father is diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and her world just doesn’t make sense anymore. Then she’s held hostage in the gym where she works, locked in a dressing room with Ethan Garrett.

Ethan is the star quarterback, popular, high-achieving, and a Christian. He has his life planned out:  a scholarship to prove he’s not like his abusive, alcoholic father, life with his cheerleader girlfriend, and growing in his faith. But when he’s locked in the dressing room with agnostic Jade, he soon starts to ask himself questions he thought he already knew the answers to.

Their shared ordeal creates a bond between Ethan and Jade that lingers back in their regular lives. But those questions—and answers—they shared while locked in the dressing room cause them both to realize that what they always had in life is no longer good enough.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints and people marking this book as DNF…because it’s Christian, and they think Christians are too judgmental and close-minded. Which seems a bit hypocritical, considering they automatically refused to read it. And Christians are the ones who are judgmental? Right. Sure, some Christians are judgmental. Just like some people who aren’t Christians are judgmental. Judging an entire group by the actions of a few is never the right choice.

I was impressed that Ethan is a teenage boy with a strong faith. You don’t see that much. Here’s the thing:  Ethan actually listens to Jade and starts asking himself and others questions as he learns from her remarks. He realizes he needs to make some changes to the way he thinks, especially about non-believers. I found his wishy-washiness with his girlfriend and the way he kept taking her back pretty annoying, but he’s a teenager. He’s still learning.

Jade has a sizable chip on her shoulder because of her family history, her experiences with racism, her feelings about religion, and her dad’s illness. She’s plenty judgmental, but she’s too close-minded to see it. She does some stupid things during the story, but she learns and attempts to grow from them.

Christine Hurley Deriso is a YA author. Things I’d Rather Do than Die is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lantern’s Ember, by Colleen Houck

the lantern's ember
Image belongs to Delacorte Press.

Title:  The Lantern’s Ember
Author:   Colleen Houck
Genre:   YA, fantasy
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Jack made a deal with the devil 500 years ago. He doesn’t remember much about that. Or when he was alive. Now he spends his days as a Lantern, one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, which is full of dangerous creatures. And he watches Ember, a young witch who lives in his town.

Ember is curious about Jack. And the Otherworld. She wants to get to know both. When Jack refuses to take her there, she runs away with a mysterious and charming vampire with ulterior motives. But Jack knows someone powerful is after Ember—and her power—and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe.

I loved the steampunk feel of The Lantern’s Ember. And you have to love Jack, the Lantern. That pun alone made it worth the read, along with the Headless Horseman similarities. Ember and Jack both are pretty naïve, but her wonder at the Otherworld shines through every page. A magical read!

New York Times-bestselling author Colleen Houck’s newest novel is The Lantern’s Ember.

(Galley provided by Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: God Speaks Your Love Language, by Gary Chapman

God Speaks
Image belongs to Moody Publishers.

Title:   God Speaks Your Love Language
Author:   Gary Chapman
Genre:   Christian
Rating:   4 out of 5

Millions of people say The 5 Love Languages saved their marriage. Now Gary Chapman applies those love languages to God and those who follow Him.

Some people see God as an impersonal, far away deity, but He is really an up-close-and-personal Father who chooses to speak to us in the language we are most comfortable with. This book both reveals ways that God speaks to us in each love language and shows us ways we can speak to Him and learn new love languages.

I’ve never read The 5 Love Languages (Yet. But I did just buy it, after reading this), yet the author speaks so candidly and simply that all the concepts are easy to understand and relate to. I loved the sections on different forms of worship!

Gary Chapman is the author of The 5 Love Languages. His newest book is God Speaks Your Love Language.

(Galley provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Matrimonial Advertisement, by Mimi Matthews

The Matrimonial Advertisement

The Matrimonial Advertisement
Image belongs to Perfectly Proper Press.

Website:  Title:   The Matrimonial Advertisement
Author:   Mimi Matthews
Genre:   Historical romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Ex-army captain Justin Thornhill needs someone to make his life a little bit easier. Orphaned and growing up in poverty, he’s spent 20 years paying back old grievances, making his fortune, and getting tortured in an Indian prison. Now he just wants to get along with the local villagers and have someone run his isolated household. A matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to accomplish that.

Helena will do anything to escape London, even traveling to the back of beyond and marrying a stranger. It’s a small price to pay for her freedom. She even starts to think she and Justin can be happy together. But when secrets from her past show up, will Justin keep her safe? Or will he listen to his own fears and walk away?

Occasionally I’ll read a book marketed as romance. Not often. And only if the premise and characters sound fairly unique and promising. Which is why I picked this one up. I’m glad I did. Helena’s secret was perfectly horrible and completely believable, given what I know about her era, but I loved her strength. Justin is deeply wounded, but so willing to help everyone around him. I loved how their relationship grew and developed.

Mimi Matthews writes about 19th century English history, historical romances, and she’s a lawyer. The Matrimonial Advertisement is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Perfectly Proper Press in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in August (2018)

Books Read in August: 19

Books Read for the Year: 119/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Fresh Air:  the Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life (spiritual book). Nicely written, inspiring read.

The Big Fat Surprise (from the TBR pile). This was about the keto diet, and was full of interesting facts and studies. Food for thought.

Our Endless Numbered Days (cultural book). I have no words for this.

An Acceptable Time (classic). The final book in the Wrinkle in Time quintet. Loved it!

For Review
(Confession:  normally I keep up with this as I read. This month I didn’t, so this will be…sparsely worded.)

the dark beneath the ice

The Dark Beneath the Ice. Creepy.

someone i used to know

Someone I Used to Know. This was a fantastic book about a teenage girl who’s been raped, and how she and her family struggle to heal and work to combat rape culture.

murdertrending_LowRes

#murdertrending. Odd book about a reality TV show where serial killers hunt down and kill convicted murders in flamboyant fashion.

thatsecretyoukeep

That Secret You Keep. Good read.

how to grow

How to Grow. Found this spiritual book compelling and conversational.

brave enough

Brave Enough. Lovely read about a teenager who gets cancer, and how that changes her life as a dancer, as she gets to know a boy who survived cancer and drug abuse.

To Be Honest

To Be Honest. I’m all about the body-positivity message of this book.

the phantom tree

The Phantom Tree. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about time travel where the travel comes forward in time, but this is it. Enjoyed this.

7 deaths

7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.  I read this entire book without having any idea what was going on…but I was intrigued the whole time. A guy wakes up in the forest with no idea who he is, where he is, how he got there, or what he’s doing there…and the mystery only deepens from there.

The Matrimonial Advertisement (review forthcoming). Occasionally, I just love a good historical romance novel. Like this one! Fantastic characters, and a lot of things going on here.

plague land

Plague Land: Reborn. Sometimes I can get away with not reading the previous book in a serious, sometimes I can’t. This was one of those times.

Just Because

The Outsider. I used to read everything Stephen King wrote, but it’s been years since I’ve read anything of his. No idea why. Found this creepy and fascinating, and full of fantastically-realized characters, as always.

For School

The Question of God. A surprisingly interesting book about the differences between C.S. Lewis and Freud.

Communicating for Life.

Who’s Afraid of Post-modernism?

Linking up With Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

Book Review: Plague Land: Reborn, by Alex Scarrow

plague land
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Title:   Plague Land: Reborn
Author:   Alex Scarrow
Genre:   Dystopian
Rating:   3 out of 5

They thought it was dead. They were wrong.

Two years ago, the virus hit London, wiping out most of the population. Leon has made it through two winters since then, and no one has seen the virus since. He lost his father, his mother, and his sister to the virus, and most of his hope as well. Until he finds a message about a rescue boat and sets out to see if the rest of the world has survived. But that’s not all he needs to worry about.

Okay, this probably wasn’t the best pick for me. Sometimes I can pick up a series book without having read the previous books in the series and be fine. Sometimes I can’t. This was one of the latter times. I didn’t have any problems following what was going on…I just had a problem caring. I didn’t have any emotional connection with the characters, so it was hard for me to get into reading this. Interesting premise with the virus, though.

Alex Scarrow currently lives in Norwich with his family. Plague Land:  Reborn is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,by Stuart Turton

7 deaths
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:   The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author:   Stuart Turton
Genre:   Mystery, murder mystery
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

When he wakes up in the forest, he has no idea where he is, how he got there, or what he’s doing there. He doesn’t even know who he is. Minutes later, he sees a woman murdered, and her killer hands him a compass and a cryptic direction. How desperate do you have to be to listen to a murderer? About that desperate. But soon he has a name:  Aiden Bishop.

The Hardcastles are hosting a house party to mark the anniversary of their son’s death. All the guests are there, but no one has seen the hosts, only their remaining son and daughter. Aiden discovers that nothing is as it seems—and no one.

When he wakes up the second day in the body of a different guest, he realizes he must re-live the same day over and over until he solves the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, who kills herself at the ball that night. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He doesn’t know who to trust. He only knows that someone is trying to stop him from solving the crime—and that person will kill all his bodies to stop him.

This book has one of the most unique premises I’ve ever read. The opening chapter has Aiden with no idea what is going on—and I felt like that the rest of the book. The writing is solid, and the author does a great job of contrasting Aiden’s personality with his host’s. I was intrigued from the very beginning, and I never did figure out what was going on!

Stuart Turton lives in London with his wife. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is his debut novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Phantom Tree, by Nicola Cornick

the phantom tree
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:   The Phantom Tree
Author:   Nicola Cornick
Genre:   Fiction, fantasy, historical
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

When Alison Bannister stumbles across an old painting while browsing in an antique shop, she knows the subject isn’t Anne Boleyn, as it claims. Instead, the painting is of Mary Seymour, taken to Wolf Hall as a child in 1557, and later presumed dead. Alison knows the painting is of Mary—a friend from her own childhood in 1557.

Alison has spent years in the present searching for clues to Mary’s disappearance, hints of the son Alison never knew, and a way to return to her own time and find him. The painting might just be the clue she needs.

But the man who discovered the painting stands in Alison’s way, and she must deal with her past—both in 1557 and now—if she’s ever to find the answers she seeks.

Time travel novels aren’t too uncommon, but this is the first time I’ve read one about someone who comes forward in time and makes a life. Alison is an interesting character, and I loved the dual timelines for her, as well as the dual narrators, with she and Mary both speaking. The mystery of what happened was both sad and compelling, and I enjoyed every page.

Nicola Cornick is a writer and historian with a master’s degree in history from Oxford. The Phantom Tree is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by  in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: To Be Honest, by Maggie Ann Martin

To Be Honest
Image belongs to Swoon Reads.

Title:   To Be Honest
Author:   Maggie Ann Martin
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Savannah’s sister is her best friend, but she’s going away to college and leaving Savannah alone with their mom, who’s become overbearing and food-and-exercise-obsessed since her stint on an extreme weight-loss reality show. She’s especially obsessed with Savannah’s food choices and weight, but Savannah just wants to get through her senior year and join her sister at college.

Savvy isn’t worried about her weight. She’s worried about her classes, the journalistic expose she’s working on about some questionable athletic recruiting practices at school, and George.

George is the cute new guy who has some problems of his own. As Savvy tries to help him, they grow closer, and George stands by her even when her mom’s helicoptering gets out of control. But more than their families stand in the way of George and Savvy, and they’ll have to figure things out on their own if they stand a chance together.

I enjoyed the body positivity message of To Be Honest. It’s great that Savvy is happy in her own skin and sees the dangers in her mom’s “health” obsession. George’s cute-but-dorky persona is charming and lovable, but the misunderstandings these two go through! Really enjoyed reading this.

Maggie Ann Martin is from Iowa but lives in New York. To Be Honest is her new book.

(Galley provided by Macmillan/Swoon Reads in exchange for an honest review.)