Tag Archives: God

Lost in Dreams

31 Dec

Lost In DreamsRodger Bruner and Kristi Rae Bruner

Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc

Publication Date: 2011

Paperback: 368 pages, but for me this was an e-book

Book Blurb:

Join eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger, as she arrives home from a life-changing mission trip to a remote Mexican village. This second novel in a new series for teen girls will challenge your faith-and capture your heart-as you journey with Kim through the biggest struggle of her life and faith.

(P.S. I’m so sorry this blurb tells you nothing. Worst one I’ve read yet. However, not an accurate reflection of the novel. Plenty of substance there.)

Stand alone or series: This is the second in the Altered Hearts series. It follows Lost in Dreams which I loved. I didn’t know for the longest time that there was a follow-up because Lost in Dreams seemed like such a stand alone I didn’t even bother to look.

Why I read this book: Like I said, I loved the first.


When it comes to the timeline you could pick up the second book without noticing. When it comes to tone however there couldn’t be a bigger difference. Kim is still riding the planes home from Santa Maria when the book begins. The fun and formidable Aleesha is with her through the first connecting flight and man do I love that girl. Aleesha tells Kim about the Season of Pebbles—a time in our lives when many things go wrong—and Kim’s Season is about to begin in full swing.

Warning: The next two paragraphs contain spoilers.

Kim’s mother dies in a car accident on her way to pick up Kim at the airport. The grief and depression that follows engulfs Act 1 and makes for an incredibly different read than Found in Translation. It’s intensely sad. I found myself on the verge of tears for hours as I worked through the first part. About a quarter of the way through the book things take an upward turn when she is invited on another mission.

Not that the first part isn’t important, but the missions part of the book is my favorite. It’s the same funny, uplifting, conflict filled plot that made the first so great. Here’s were the Christian message starts to shine through and pick Kim up from the depths she was in and picked me up as well.

This book has some old characters and some new ones. All of whom are multi-layered, caring and more than a bit cheeky. The Bruners really do a great job at character building as well as with missions—through their description as well as the outreach that their novels provide. The lives of the characters are wholly centered on God and I find that refreshing.

I’m more hesitant to recommend this novel than the first. Not because it wasn’t as excellently written as Lost in Dreams. Act 1 was so sad and if anyone reading this is like me, I can’t help but imagine “What if this happened to me?” That being said, the sadness of Act 1 made the transformation in the next two acts all the more beautiful. I still recommend this novel, but be prepared. I certainly wasn’t.


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.


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.


Caleb + Kate

24 Sep

Caleb + KateCindy Martinusen Coloma

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2010

Paperback: 288 pages, though this was one of my e-reads

Book Blurb:

As the popular darling of the junior class and heiress to the five-star Monrovi Inn empire, Kate has both everything and nothing. She’s bored with school and life…until she locks eyes with Caleb at a school dance.

Caleb is new to Kate’s exclusive prep school, and it’s clear he doesn’t fit in. In fact, he and his dad work in maintenance for Kate’s father. And while Caleb knows better than to spend time with the boss’s daughter, it seems that every time he tries to back away, something pulls him right back in.

When their parents demand that they are to stay away from each other, they learn of a fight between their families that occurred more than fifty years ago. It’s a mystery Kate doesn’t understand…but a legacy Caleb has endured his entire life.

With the world stacked against them, Caleb and Kate will have to walk by faith to find the path that God has planned for them.

Stand alone or series: Alone and oh so lonely… Okay, so my sister has played me one too many cheesy country songs.

Why I read this book: It was in my library and for teens. Teen Christian fiction, though easier than it was to come by is still not the easiest genre to find so I snap up every chance I can get. Especially if it’s free!


This book surpassed my expectations. I had only read one book by this author before and while it was decent, it was not one of my favs. This time she went for an all out romance and man was it good. Caleb Kalani and Kate Monrovi meet each other after forced together by the school principal as part of Kate’s “charity work”. Instantly sparks fly. Caleb is all too aware of the generations-long feud between the two families, his grandfather has ground it into his head. However, despite his attempts to stay away from this prissy rich girl, she’s not all he first thought of her and he can’t seem to keep away. No matter how badly it could damage his family relations.

This book packs a surprising amount of heat and I have to say I enjoyed it. I still wish a little more could be said about drawing boundaries and what those boundaries could be, but I think the author paints a fairly accurate depiction of the desire that can bloom in a fresh relationship. I think she also handles their ages well. I tend to be a little wary of high schoolers finding their one true love at the ripe age of 16 or 17, but it is well handled in this book. I found their love and how they handle thoughts of the future to be very convincing.

The book draws interesting conclusions about God and love. I would have preferred the characters’ faith journey to have a bit more of an arch within the story. Caleb and Kate’s romantic journey was far more prominent. As it is a love story that’s not unusual but I would’ve liked to see a little more balance.

I tore through this book in all of two days. Then again, I haven’t done much else since yesterday afternoon. I’m often afraid of getting sucked into a new book because I know I won’t want to do anything else until I’ve finished. And this was certainly one of those. I loved the electricity flying between Kate and Caleb and was interested to see where this fire would take them. Now the publishers market this for age 12 and up but I would say a little bit older, probably fourteen or fifteen. It’s not that the reading level is too hard, but the slightly steamy thoughts swirling around in their heads is a little more than I’d want my 12 year old reading. However, for high schoolers and up I would say this would be one to put on your to-read list.

My Boyfriends’ Dogs

3 Sep

My Boyfriends' Dogs

Dandi Daley Mackall

Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books

Publication Date: 2010

Hardback: 265 pages

Book Blurb:

Bailey Daley is about to discover that true love and man’s best friend have more in common than she ever dreamed.

Seeking shelter from a rainstorm, Bailey and her three dogs stumble into a St. Louis café that’s just closing down for the night. One look at Bailey—from her wet dogs to her drenched prom dress—and it’s obvious the girl has a story to tell. With the stormy night ahead of her, Bailey unfolds the tales of Adam and Eve and Shirley, the three dogs she’s won, and the three loves she’ll never forget.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Why I read this book: The title! It grabbed me from the start. One, I love dogs and, two, I was intrigued that each dog came from a different relationship.


I wouldn’t have categorized this as a Christian book. I was surprised to find it at Christianbooks.com. I’d first found it in the teens’ section at Borders (may it rest in peace). So I guess I was equally surprised to find God mentioned in an off-the-teen-shelf book. To be fair He wasn’t mentioned all that often. It’s made clear that Bailey and her mom believe in God but that doesn’t play a huge factor in the storyline. It’s a very odd balancing act. Some of the moral stances found in religion are present—such as the mom being insistent she waits until marriage to have sex, but reading the Bible, going to church and many of the other day to day aspects of religion are conspicuously absent. As I wasn’t coming into story with the expectation of it being a Christian novel I quite enjoyed it, but I would have been disappointed if I came to it with different expectations.

Setting that aspect aside, I think My Boyfriends’ Dogs has a great premise. A very wet girl in a very wet gown accompanied by three drenched dogs enters a closed café in the middle of the night. As she warms up over a hot cup of coffee, three men listen to her story and we learn just a bit of theirs as well. The café presents a nice frame tale that sets the stage for the stories of Bailey’s three loves lost. As the stories unfolded, I felt like I could’ve been a girlfriend she was spilling her heart out to.

The stories of her three old flames capture cycle of many young relationships. That initial, sweep-you-off-your-feet infatuation, the blindness to their flaws, the eventual eye-opening and the fallout. I could see bits of my past relationships and the relationships of my friends play out in Bailey’s life. After the fall of the first relationship Bailey says “…from that first boyfriend on, in varying degrees we become addicted to boyfriends”. I’m not saying it’s good or healthy or right, but for many girls I think that’s true. I know it was for me and that addiction got me into some really crappy relationships. To hear her say that (and many other things) was a revelation to me. The first step to breaking an addiction is to realize you have one.

This book is great for girls who are (were, in my case) stuck in that cycle like me and Bailey. It’s also a fun read that draws you in with its conversational style and captivating narrative. It’s a book that I will pass on.

Redeeming Love

20 Aug

Redeeming Love

Francine Rivers

Publisher: Multnomah Books

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 479 pages, though I read the e-book. Don’t worry, this one’s safe, no typos.

Book Blurb:

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.  A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone, I love it when they know to stop. A great thing can sometimes be lessened when they try to squeeze more out of it. And I do believe this was a great thing.

Why I read this book: I was writing an essay on Christian fiction and I came to the section on genres. Now historical fiction is a HUGE genre in Christian fiction, but I had been turned off of it at a young age by one too many no-so-pathetic deaths in a book that shall remain nameless. However, that book and a couple I’d read prior were enough to turn me off the historical side of things. So when it came to the historical section I had little to write about and knew I needed at least one example. I’d heard a lot about this book. It was part of the women’s book club at multiple churches I’d been a member of and I figured there was a reason for that. In fact there is, with over a million copies sold this book stayed in the Christian best-seller list for a decade and the author has gone on to receive more acclaim. I figured, if I’m going to read historical Christian fiction I might as well read the best.


This book was hard to begin. The story starts when Angel, then Sarah, is a child. All through the 46 page prologue I cringed because I knew what was going to happen. Redeeming Love is the story of a prostitute’s path to redemption, and I did not want to see that happen to this sweet, innocent little girl. But happen it did. Then the story skips ahead ten years and her tragic fate is a bit easier to swallow when she’s a “grown-up”, though I hardly call eighteen an adult. What Angel has suffered is hard to swallow but everything changes when Micheal Hosea walks onto the scene.

Michael gets under her skin, but not in a good way. He’s unlike any other man she’s encountered and she hates that she can’t stuff him into a box with all the others. Their marriage is one of… well, I won’t give away how they end up there but they do. Michael loved Angel from the minute he saw her and pursues her at God’s urging, but it’s not easy. Angel fights him at every turn, she doesn’t trust men, she despises the thought of love and hates the God who did not come to her and her mother’s aid when they needed it the most.

Their courtship is a constant tug-of-war, a back and forth that doesn’t get tiring. In fact, it’s all the more beautiful for Michael’s relentless pursuit of Angel despite all the things that happen. Angel’s melting heart is fascinating to watch and their relationship is as hot as it is heartwarming. I’m often wary of men written by women in romances, I’ve run into one to many effeminate men with bulging muscles waxing poetic on the oceans found in a women’s eyes. It is not so with Michael Hosea, he strikes just the right note, and if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself falling for him long before Angel’s heart opens.

The story is incredibly engaging, and heartbreaking. But understanding the depths from which Angel comes, makes her transformation all the more satisfying. The story kept changing in ways I didn’t expect, adding new layers, new characters, new complications. And I’m not an easy person  to surprise. I would extraordinary story to any adult, and I do stress adult. The content is troubling at times and I believe that as time passes a reader will be able to appreciate the story better. I know in my teen years it would not have had the same impact. So read it! But be prepared, it’s not a light story, it’s also not one you can put down.


26 Jul


Ray Blackston

Publisher: Revell

Publication Date: 2003

Paperback: 327 pages

Book Blurb:

Jay Jarvis just moved east. His dating life’s gone south. What else is a guy to do but go fishing?

Jay is new in town. He’s young, successful, and single, and he’s not afraid to plop down in a church pew to scope out the females. But in the murky waters of the South Caroling singles scene, Jay’s whole world is in danger of being turned upside down.

Stand alone or series: I just found out that it’s part of a series and I couldn’t be more excited!

Why I read this book: I was aching for a good male point of view. I’d just read the most ghastly male POV (point of view) in a romance written by a woman. Now I’m not saying that woman can’t write male perspectives because my creative writing professor tried to smite me when I did so. However from the books that I’ve read in the romance genre, they haven’t turned out so well. Blackston’s Jay hit the mark and had me begging for more.


I’ve always had so much trouble describing this book. There’s some romance in it, by it’s not a romance. There’s some adventure in it, but it’s not an adventure story. It takes several turns that I was not expecting it to take and took me to a place where I did not think it would end up and though it wasn’t at all what I expected I loved it. If I was hard pressed, I’d say Flabbergasted is a story about a man who found God and it changed his life. Now you might argue that this is what most Christian books are about and I would say that this is not most books.

I know this is going to sound silly, but one of the things I really like about it was that it was written by a man. Ray Blackston was able to give us all those little insights about men that I would never think of but when I read all I could do was shout “Yes! That’s exactly what they do!” The way that Jay handles being cornered by three women into having “the talk” and driving in a car with another man for hours on end and being stranded in a creepy place with a bunch of other guys had me cracking up.

Flabbergasted was Blackston’s debut novel and I can see why he’s done so well since. The characters are brighter than the cover, which, trust me, stands out. From a cute, food-flinging missionary to pseudo-single surfer named Ransom to a tall blond with a penchant for speeding and a car named Lime Shebert, the cast of Flabbergasted will stick with you. The snappy dialogue and Jay’s unfettered thoughts keep the pace moving and the reader laughing. But what I love even more than the great voice is how Blackston is able to combine the serious with the silly.

Jay Jarvis takes a journey from hitting up church with the hopes of finding a date to taking a plunge for his faith, even though that could mean upsetting the future he’d so carefully planned. I watched him as her grew and took first baby steps, them leaps and bounds in his walk with God. It was a fun and moving process to watch unfold. Something that made it even more interesting for me is that there is some truth in it. I read and reread bits and pieces—testimonials from people who are characters who might be real people and prologue which I still can’t tell if it’s Ray or Jay speaking (suspicious how close those two names are, isn’t it?) After much, much research I’ve found that about 34% of the novel is true. Which parts? Let me know what you think!

I would recommend this book to anyone—guy, girl, young, and young at heart—and have on many occasions. It’s a great summer read. Keeping checking for more Blackston and the Flabbergasted series. I hope you enjoy!