Archive | October, 2013

First Date

29 Oct

First DateKrista McGee

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2012

Paperback: 336 pages. Though I read this e-book on my laptop, phone and Kindle, whichever was closest at the time.

Book Blurb:

The last thing Addy Davidson wants is to be on a reality TV show where the prize is a prom date with the President’s son.

She’s focused on her schoolwork so she can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college, uncomfortable in the spotlight, never been on a date, and didn’t even audition for it.

But she got selected anyway.

So she does her best to get eliminated on the very first show. Right before she realizes that the President’s son is possibly the most attractive guy she has ever seen in person, surprisingly nice, and seemingly unimpressed by the 99 other girls who are throwing themselves at him.

Addy’s totally out of her comfort zone but that may be right where God can show her all that she was meant to be.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone but I’ll definitely be checking out more by this author

Why I read this book: It was a new author for me and a teen book to boot. I wanted to see how she was going to pair Christianity with reality TV… The mix just didn’t quite match in my head. The premise reminded me of The Elite series, a futuristic secular series that I’ve also enjoyed. And it was on sale! Perfect combination in my book.

Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It’s a familiar story, but it’s well written. Addy, our reluctant hero, finds herself torn out of her comfort zone and thrown onto national TV. And through she keeps slipping up she somehow finds herself the sound bite of the night show after show. Addy has always kept herself just under the radar. At school she works hard, is involved in a Bible study, but manages to stay fairly unknown to all but the teachers and her best friend Lexi. The spotlight is far too bright for our high schooler who is afraid to share anything… especially her faith.

I loved how blatant Addy’s faith is in this novel. I enjoyed watching her overcome her struggles with sharing. It has encouraged me to also be more outgoing in my faith. She fights God at many steps of the way (something I’m also familiar with) but ultimately she decides to give Him control. And when she does, amazing things happen.

The story does, of course, revolve around romance. How could it not with a name like First Date? It’s not a whirlwind or hot and heavy like Caleb + Kate. It’s light, sweet and the perfect beginning to my weekend. Part of what I love about this book is it’s clean, I feel no twinge at recommending it to any age. It’s appropriate and readable for middle schoolers but twentysomethings like me will also delight in these quick pages. It’s another one that caught me from the start. I wouldn’t even put it down to make lunch. I had my phone in one hand as I cooked my eggs. If you’re looking for something fluffy, something to make you say “Awww!” This is the book for you. Have fun! I know I did.

 

Black

22 Oct

BlackTed Dekker

Publisher: WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2004

Paperback: 408 pages

Book Blurb:

Enter an adrenaline-laced epic where dreams and reality collide.

Fleeing his assailants through deserted alleyways, Thomas Hunter narrowly escapes to the roof of a building. Then a silent bullet from the night clips his head… and his world goes black.

From the blackness comes an amazing reality of another world—a world where evil is contained. A world where Thomas Hunter is in love with a beautiful woman. Then remembers the dream of the chase as he reaches to touch the blood on his head.

Where does the dream end and reality begin? Every time he falls asleep in one world he awakes in the other—both facing catastrophic disaster. Thomas is being pushed beyond his limits…even beyond the limits of  space and time.

Black is an incredible story of evil and rescue, betrayal and love, pursuit and death, and a terrorist threat unlike anything the world has ever known.

Some say the world hangs in the balance of every choice we make. Now the fate of two worlds hangs in the balance of one man’s choice.

Three novels. Two worlds. One story.

Stand alone or series: Series most definitely. Now it was originally marketed as a trilogy. Even the line above says three novels, however there are now four. Black, Red and White make up the original three, but now there is also Green. Green is said to be book zero, able to be read at the beginning or end of the others to create, you guessed it, a circle. But be warned, within the first couple pages of Green it gives away important things from the other books. I fear it could take some of the suspense out of the other novels, and suspense is the power that fuels them.

Why I read this book: I remembered hearing in mentioned years before by a fellow classmate. She wanted to start a book club, but it never got off the ground. The titles lay dormant in the back of my mind until I saw Black on sale at Half Price Books. It was cheap and I had a summer ahead of me to read. I packed it on a long trip and having run out of everything else I’d brought to read I finally picked it up, when I did I didn’t even bother putting it down to eat.

Review:

The prologue is dark and very slow. I dragged through it like wading through honey, unsure if I was going to finish such a book. But please hold on. It does provide information that will become useful later on, though it also gives away a number of plot points I might have wished to wait for. I think the goal though, is to give you some footing on the strange ground you’re about to traverse, because in chapter one Tom hits the ground running (quite literally) and doesn’t stop for quite some time.

“Adrenaline-laced” is a great phrase for this series. It just keeps going and going at an almost breath-taking pace. I certainly got swept up and read them much faster than I should have. There’s so much detail, so many little things to catch, but I was busy wanting to know what happened next. But I urge you to stop and smell the roses, or in this case the fruit of the colored forest.

The world that Dekker creates in the reality parallel to our own is astonishing. One of my favorite details is the trees and wood of the colored forest. I could go on and on about this fascinating substance, but he does it so much better than I so I’ll let you discover it yourselves. The other world contrasts our own in many ways, but enables readers to draw conclusions about this world by comparing the two. In our world evil so often appears disguised as something else or hides until we realize the danger too late. In the other reality, there’s a clear distinction between good and evil through appearances and through a physical divide that separates the two.

I found this to be a fascinating series (I haven’t read Green yet) and invite you to get swept away as I did. Though the books are long in page length I think you’ll find they fly by, sped along by a swift plot and short chapters. Whether the time it takes you is long or short, I encourage you to invest it in this series. The beginning may be hard to follow, but it causes a greater feeling of accomplishment when you finally do get a grasp on what in the worlds is going on. Good luck!

Stealing Adda

15 Oct

Stealing AddaTamara Leigh

Publisher: NavPress

Publication Date: 2006

Paperback: 464 pages

Book Blurb:

Writer’s block, nibbled nails, plagiarism, oh my! And did I mention romance?

Life for Adda Sinclaire, New York Times best-selling author and historical romance write extraordinaire, reads more like a country song than a breathless, bodice-bursting affair. For starters, she has no romance in her own life. That might have something to do with her husband—correction, ex-husband—running of with her rival, Stick Woman. To add insult to injury (and another verse to the country song), her ex not only took their dog but gave it to his new girlfriend. If that isn’t enough, Adda has come down with a horrible case of writer’s block, finds herself gifted with a Bible that is determined to speak to her, and is the unwitting target of a romance cover model’s misdirected advances. Just when she catches her breath, and quite possibly the eye of a certain fabulously good-looking man (ahem… her new editor), her arch-nemesis gives the pot one final stir.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone, so far my favs from Tamara Leigh… Then again I haven’t read her series yet.

Why I read this book: After reading Faking Grace I had to check out more by this author. She was just too good to not read more.

Review:

I really admire how Leigh can build a plot around a story we already know. The baseline of romances is boy meets girl, there are complications, boy gets girl. We all know this as soon as we read the blurb. So then how is it she has me squirming to see what happens next? The highly appreciate the twists and turns in this novel. Just when you feel the issues are getting resolved and don’t know how she’s going to fill the rest of the pages, she throws another curveball at you. I love it! I never feel bored in a Leigh novel and that’s what keeps me coming back.

Faith and Christianity are not as conspicuous in this novel as it was in Faking Grace because this novel is not set in the world of Christian publishing, but of bodice rippers (i.e. steamy secular romance novels). A bit of an odd setting for a Christian romance, I agree. But this, the first of Leigh’s Christian novels, is loosely based on the author’s life. She began her writing career with Bantam Books, publishing the bodice rippers that her main character Adda writes. With Leigh’s own conversion she felt the need to infuse her faith more and more into her novels, eventually switching to fully inspirational romances. So though faith and Christianity may not be as conspicuous in this novel it is still prominent, beginning in chapter one when an earnest, young “Bible-thumper” knocks on her door. The battle for her faith is fraught with agents, friends and of course the hot editor.

I love the witty voice consistent throughout the novel. I find myself laughing as much as I’m biting my nails. Don’t let the large number of pages scare you, this book flies by! And once you’re hooked, you won’t want to put it down. It just keeps getting better.

 

Found in Translation

8 Oct

Roger Bruner and Kristi Ray Bruner

Publisher: Barbour PublishingFound in Translation

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 365

Book Blurb:

Faith, obedience and forgiveness intersect in a remote Mexican village.

When Kim Hartlinger—eighteen and spoiled—arrives on a mission trip to Mexico and discovers, to her chagrin, that she’ll be doing construction in a remote village without plumbing and electricity, rather than evangelism in a medium sized two with a fast food joint…she has only two choices. “Rough it” (which isn’t exactly what Kim had in mind when she signed up for this trip) or turn around and head home.

Will Kim be able to touch the villagers’ hearts with the Gospel? Or will her time in Mexico be up before she gets the chance?

Stand alone or series: This book can easily stand alone but it now part of a series

Why I read this book: While searching for books in a seemly endless stream the cover and title caught my eye. Once I read the caption, I was hooked. I found it in the year leading up to my move to Mexico. I knew that a missionary view of a remote town will be far different from what I experience but I’d love to find ways to help if I can. And never having been on a mission trip like this I wanted to hear a close-up account, albeit fictional, of the goings on. I was not disappointed.

Review:

Kim, or Kimmy as she hates to be called, is the picture of a stereotypical teen—irresponsible and self-obsessed—but the situation she is about to encounter is anything but typical. Her bags are crammed with make-up, hair products and designer clothes. Her attitude is on edge after a missed flight, a nasty airport worker, a few missed emails and a less than friendly reception from the mission trip crew. The perfect recipe for disaster if God wasn’t in the mix as only He can turn a disaster into a blessing.

With the help of her spunky new friend Aleesha, Kim is able to win over the hearts of her team members but winning over the hearts of the villagers proves more difficult as their last minute change of plans left not only left Kim without a sleeping bag but also left the group without translators. Despite the language barrier Kim and many others form bonds with the villagers. The mission members care for the villagers’ physical needs while rebuilding houses, but they know it will all be in vain if they can’t care for their spiritual needs as well.

Kim’s “me” focus turns to a “He” focus as the novel lives up to its subtitle: An Altered Hearts Novel. Her transformation is fun to watch—filled with laughter, challenges and doubt. But with a little time and a little faith she learns to trust God’s plans and God’s timing even if they take her way out of her comfort zone.

The novel had a great voice and fun characters that you couldn’t help but care for. I didn’t want to put it down and, well, neglected everything that I should’ve been doing to finish. I’d recommend Found in Translation to any and all, but specifically to teens and college age.

ReMatch

1 Oct

ReMatchErynn Mangum

Publisher: TH1NK Books, an imprint of NavPress

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 326 pages

Warning: If you have not read MissMatch, everything from this point on is a potential spoiler!

Book Blurb:

There are no do-overs in love. Right?

With two matches under her belt, Lauren’s ready to get back to work. Lucky for her, her job at The Brandon Knox Photography Studio makes it even easier to work her magic on her best friend and boss, Brandon, and the adorable receptionist, Hannah. And since she’s at Shawn’s coffee shop anyway (a girl’s got to feed her caffeine and chocolate addictions, doesn’t she?), why not look for his perfect match as well? But with all her love-connection luck, Lauren’s thrown for a loop when her dad announces that he’s heading out of town for a singles’ retreat. And in the midst of panicking about her dad and potential future stepmom, there’s also that matter of Ryan—love interest or friend? Only time, vats of coffee, and pounds of chocolate will tell!

Stand alone or series: The second in the most excellent Lauren Holbrook series

Why I read this book: Because the first one was so great, duh!

Review:

And she’s at it again! After having successfully paired Ruby and Nick she sets her unwelcome sights on poor Brandon. But she’s so focused on everyone else that she doesn’t realize her little thing with Ryan has turned from a fake relationship to a real one. As if that weren’t enough… Sorry, I got distracted by reading for the last half hour.

The book pulls you in from page one. And hands down, my favorite part is the dialogue. Really, I lap it up. It’s so crazy and quippy and it flies by so fast that when you finish you’ll want to start again just to make sure you caught it all. And of course the dialogue wouldn’t be so great if it weren’t for the fantastic and rather large cast of characters. These people I would love to have as my best friends. They’re the perfect mix of fun, kindred spirit and a little bit crazy. And they’re a great Christian family there to offer the uplifting and Biblical advice you need.

I’m afraid to say much else for fear of giving too much away. You’d think it would be easy to talk about a book that I love so much but it’s hard to describe. It’s just one of those things that you have to experience. I don’t understand how every page can be funny. I don’t know how she does it. However I do know that after looking at one page I want to grab a venti mocha Frappuccino, no whip, and settle in for the next five hours to do nothing but read. The one catch is I’m not sure if this would be as funny to guys… I’m planning to test it out soon on my wonderful husband. Thanks hon! (He doesn’t know yet. He’ll be just thrilled. I’ll keep you updated.) For now I suggest it to all women, the young and single will find it particularly amusing. However the comedy still works no matter what stage in life. I’m in love with the books! Tune in Friday for the review of the final episode of the Lauren Holbrook series.