Tag Archives: Thomas Nelson

If We Survive

8 Apr

If We SurviveAndrew Klavan

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2012

Paperback: 340 pages

Book Blurb:

They
 came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives.

High schooler Will Peterson and three
friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor,
secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their
energy and kindness.

But in one sudden moment, everything
went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are
everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.

Will and his friends have got to get
out fast. But streets full of killers . . .hills patrolled by armies . . . and
a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of
escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them
at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.

If they can just survive.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone.

Why I read this book: I was searching for books outside my usual genre on the Thomas Nelson website and came across this novel.

Review:

Boy, this book was a shock to the system. It starts with a bang, quiet literally. Will Peterson went to Costa Verdes to build a wall, and to get away from his parents. When an upheaval takes place on the last day of their mission trip, he doesn’t know if he’ll ever see his parents again. Now he, and the five Americans with him, are trapped in a hostile land.

This novel was… breathtaking, gut-wrenching, heart stopping. The adrenaline-pumped pace starts on the first sentence of the prologue and it doesn’t stop. I couldn’t eat before, during, or after reading because the story made my stomach turn. It’s incredibly well written, but certainly not for a young audience. Violence abounds. The violence is not gratuitous, it fits perfectly into the story and scenario, nevertheless it’s hard to read.

The author’s pacing is impeccable. The plot goes hard and fast for much longer than made me comfortable. Then, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, Klavan allows the reader a breath… Just for a second. Just long enough to make me think I could get through to the end.

The characterization was also superb. The group is small, just a band of six, so we get the time and detail to really learn about, and care for, each of them. We know their quirk, their reactions, their thought processes, and their flaws. We become invested in the survival of each character. The stakes rise higher and higher the more we care.

The writing is masterful, but the content is not for everyone. The entire time I read it I felt unsettled, edgy, and stressed. I read it fast because I couldn’t handle the panicky feeling it instilled in me. But I know I tend to be more squeamish than average.  So if you like action and don’t mind the violence as much this novel is perfect for you. You are in for a treat.

(For parents, this book is geared mainly towards boys and I would suggest caution. I would place the age range of this novel at at least 17+.)

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Red

19 Nov

RedTed Dekker

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2004

Paperback: 400 pages

Book Blurb:

“We have stepped off the cliff and are falling into madness.”

The mind-bending pace of Black accelerates in Red, Book Two of Ted Dekker’s epic Circle Series. Less than a month ago, Thomas Hunter was a failed writer selling coffee at the Java Hut in Denver. Now he finds himself in a desperate quest to rescue two worlds from collapse. In one world, he’s a battle-scarred general commanding an army of primitive warriors. In the other, he’s racing to outwit sadistic terrorists intent on creating global chaos through an unstoppable virus.

Two worlds on the brink of destruction. One unthinkable solution.

Enter an adrenaline-laced epic where dreams and reality collide. Nothing is as it seems, as Black turns to Red.

Stand alone or series: Second in The Circle Series… Or third-ish if you decide to read Green first.

Why I read this book: When I was finishing Black, I was practically running to the book store. I managed to find this and the third in the English section of a Mexican bookstore. Be warned though, if you haven’t read the first book then this will be a spoiler.

Review:

Aye! I couldn’t catch my breath.

Fifteen years have passed in Other Earth and not more than fifteen minutes on our world. Thomas of Hunter is now the supreme commander of the Forest Guard. Though the beautiful colorful forest is nothing but a vague memory. Thomas and Rachel have been from Eden and into a much harsher land. The Forest Dwellers live in forests surrounding lakes. Every day they must bathe in the lakes to keep a horrible skin disease at bay. However the sickness not only turns their skin white and flaky and horribly painful, it also dulls their minds and turns truth to lies. The diseased are Horde and they are coming to take the forests.

On our earth Thomas wakes with a gun to his head and even worse, to find another disease is released. This one will kill the world and there is no antidote… yet.

Okay. This next paragraph will be a spoiler for those who haven’t read it too. But it’s so cool I can’t not talk about it. I’ll try to keep it vague, but it could give away a BIG thing if you figure it out (and you probably will). So if you haven’t read it and want to, step the next paragraph and continue on.

I was never able to understand how the Biblical Jews could not believe that Jesus was the Savior. Reading from this time and place it seems a given. This book helped me to understand and see the scene in a way I never could before. Some were simply power hungry, yes. But others truly believed that they were following God’s law. They believed that this young man saying He was the Son of God was defying God with the very words He used to bring them closer. I know I’m still not doing this justice, but this book provided a revelation for me and it’s an amazing experience when books can do that.

As with the first, this book was breath-takingly fast. Usually I don’t like the second book in a trilogy because I feel like it’s just build up for the third. Not so with this fantastic second. If you’re looking for a thrill, for a heart-pounding action, get this trilogy. I didn’t put it down to eat. For men and women, this is a great read. Check it out!

 

Scrap Everything

12 Nov

Scrap EverythingLeslie Gould

Publisher: 2010

Publication Date: WaterBrook Press

Paperback: 336 pages, though this was a e-book read on my European adventure

Book Blurb:

Elise didn’t want to be in the town at all–and certainly not in the scrapbooking shop…

A month after Elise Shelton and her family arrive in Forest Falls, Oregon, she wanders into Rebekah Graham’s scrapbooking store. Elise deems Rebekah too perky and judges scrapbooking to be another never-gets-done chore, but she’s also drawn to the community of women who gather to crop their photos, lay out pages, and share their lives.

The women rally around Elise when her husband is called back into the army and her family is thrown into turmoil. When Rebekah’s daughter faces a medical crisis, challenging Rebekah’s desire to control her life as tightly as she plans her scrapbook pages, the women must support each other.

As both women battle to overcome their fears and to grow in faith, they discover unexpected gifts–and an unlikely friendship that will change their lives.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Why I read this book: I was looking for new authors. I’d found myself in an author rut and wanted to get some new blood in the mix. And, of course, I’m attracted to all things crafty so I figured this was a good mix.

Review:

Elise plans for Forest Falls to be a short stop on the way to their final destination. After decades of being dragged across the world by her army husband she’s thrilled at his retirement and at the prospect of finally having a place to call home. But Forest Falls is the last place she wants to call home.

Rebekah’s world revolves around her sick daughter, Pepper. Much to the detriment of the rest of her family. As Pepper’s condition worsens Rebekah becomes more and more desperate. The last thing she needs is to deal with a snooty out-of-towner, but she feels the nudge to help this lonely, bitter woman who has stumbled into her shop.

The story revolves around these two women, taking their viewpoints in turn. They each have battles they’re fighting, secrets they’re harboring and a strong need for companionship, on earth and with their heavenly Father. This is a story of transformation, two transformations. Rebekah and Elise learn to put their trust in God and in each other. And they find things can turn out better than they imagined.

This was a good read, though by no means light and fluffy. These women are hurting, and if you’re anything like me you’ll hurt with them. They’re struggles may be similar to ones you are facing, or not. But issues concern husbands and kids are problems almost every woman can relate to. I loved watching these women grow. It gave me hope for myself. Elise and Rebekah were only just surviving, coping with their struggles the only way they knew how. But in the end they learned to live, trusting God to do what is right even when they can’t see the way ahead.

I would recommend this book to any woman, particularly one who is struggling an issue of her own. Seeing how and how not to deal with problems is helpful to someone willing to listen and learn. If this is you I’ll be in prayer. God’s plan is infinitely better than anything we could come up with. Remember that and don’t lose heart.

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!

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!

Review:

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.

Will of Wisteria

30 Aug

Will of WisteriaDenise Hildreth Jones

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 342 pages, though I read this one as an e-book

Book Blurb:

Four headstrong siblings must satisfy their father’s dying demands–or risk losing his fortune. Let the clash of wills begin.

Charleston blue blood Clayton Wilcott “got religion” late in life; so late, it turns out his kids never took to it. So he’s left a provisional will delivered in a highly unorthodox way.

Now they’re going to have to honor Daddy’s commandments from beyond the grave–for a full year–or be cut off from their substantial inheritances.

The scent of wisteria lingers in the air as the four spoiled Wilcotts battle for their birthright. Told in Denise Hildreth’s trademark blend of humor and heart, this Southern tale is about learning to love, learning to live, and learning to bend.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone and stand out if I do say so myself. It is unlike most of the Christian fiction books I read.

Why I read this book: I’m always looking for new Christian authors and this particular book happened to be available at my library.

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I liked the title and it claimed to be Christian fiction so I figured that was a good enough reason to try. The beginning was sad, the four siblings’ lives were a mess—some with tragic back stories and some who just couldn’t get their act together. The anger and resentment did not make for an easy read. More importantly I saw nothing that would rate this novel as Christian and I was worried that I would have nothing to review for you fine folks. However I was determined to stick it out because I’m one of those strange people who when I start something sad—book, movie, etc.—I must stick it out to see the happy end or I feel uneasy. And I’m glad I did.

The journey that these sibling undertook was one worth watching. Their father was not much a father while he was living which left gaping holes in the lives of his children. Knowing that there was little he could do to reach him while he was alive, he reached out from death at a final attempt to help them find the value in themselves, a value beyond their monetary inheritance. I really enjoyed the novel once the siblings started to make some progress but it was a long time, about halfway, before they did. A little past half way is when faith started to be mentioned in the story as well. I find it hard to describe how it entered in. It seems to me that faith does not play a large role in the story. As some children start to get their lives in order they also find pieces of God, but there’s no large discussion of him. I suppose what I find odd is the novel did not try to preach to me by subtle or blatant methods and that’s something I expect from Christian novels. Now this may not be true for everyone who reads this novel, but it was for me. I found their personal journeys, not their spiritual journeys, to be the more engaging part of the story.

I liked the story quite a bit despite, what was for me, the hard start. I would recommend this novel to friends and readers. But be aware you’re in for a more serious read, though funny at times this book is not a comedy. For me, I must have the right mindset for a book—serious, comedy or otherwise—to really get off on the right foot. But I think you’ll Will of Wisteria is worth your time.

To all my readers and followers thanks for checking out The Word and Other Words! This post ends my kick off month for the blog. As much as I’d like to keep up two or three posts a week, it’s simply not feasible for me. So from now on I’ll be reviewing one book a week. The posts will go out on Tuesday, because nobody likes Mondays and it gives you the rest of the week to check it out. If you’ve got any ideas or requests I’d love to hear from you. Happy reading!