Showing posts with label NetGalley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NetGalley. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2019

Stand Strong 365 Devotions for Men - A Review

Stand Strong
365 Devotions for Men by Men
by Our Daily Bread Ministries

I’m not a man. True. But through many days and nights of reading devotions with my husband, I can judge well what styles of devotional readings tickle his fancy—and which ones don’t. And just like us women, sometimes men must wade through a few uninteresting books to find one that speaks to them.

Stand Strong definitely has a masculine slant. From ants to pine cones, male friendship to obedience, the lessons in the devotional focus on examples with which men can connect. General Eisenhower, The Bourne Identity movie, one-handed football player Kris Silbaugh, a young soldier being harpooned with vaccinations, and a wife who makes pot roast are just a few of the characters used to illustrate Scripture in a way that is engaging to most men.

Another plus was the mix of daily topics. Where I enjoy devotions that run for days or even weeks with a focused theme, my husband would much prefer variety, not addressing the same issue even two days in a row. Stand Strong’s daily topics are fresh and unique each day. They are a short read with practical examples that put God’s Word into perspective for today’s world and the challenges men face.

I give this FIVE book stars. It is well written and Scripture based. I think it would make a nice gift for the man in your life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from
Discovery House Publishers via NetGalley.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace - A Review

For me, this book started off sensationally, but then came to a grinding almost-halt. The opening scene has the reader on the edge of her seat. After that, there seems to be a lot of whining about the character’s lousy mother. Granted, mom lives up to the reputation, but early on it reads more like a teen who’s mad for having to clean their room. But I hung in there. And it did pick up again. Still, the pace lags in many places.

Heads up: When reading about “the faction,” don’t wait for an explanation. It’s just what she calls her group of friends—nothing more.

The premise is good—a seventeen-year-old kills a bully, defending herself, and is then arrested for his murder. Except the details don’t add up. The author fails to make me understand why she would be charged in the first place. It seems highly unlikely based on the evidence. Still, it wasn’t so far-fetched that I stopped reading. (The whining almost achieved that effect, but not the criminal aspect.)

The writing is good, though I would have liked the supporting characters to be a little more developed. The main character is the underdog you want to root for. If you are bothered by foul language, same-sex attraction, and other mature (see warning below) situations, do not read this book. The first-person seemed an odd choice to me, as some of the narrative seemed beyond this high-schooler’s maturity level. But it worked quite well otherwise.

The entire story builds up toward the trial, so I found it rather strange that the actual trial seemed to run less than an hour long. I would have liked there to be more to the courtroom aspect. But then, this is not a legal drama. It’s the story of a victimized girl, who already was on the “lesser” side of society.

The ending was satisfying. No loose ends left hanging.

I give this book three stars* (with an asterisk for language and content.) Three seems a little low for the quality of the writing, but I just couldn’t go for four with this story. I would recommend this book for only mature teens or young adults. I think older adults would become bored with the pace and the prominent “high-school feel” of the story. A young reviewer would most likely give a higher rating.

Warning: Spoiler! There is an abortion in the book. I was uncomfortable with the details (though not graphic) of the procedure, but the author did a good job of portraying the character’s emotional state. And that event does play an important part in the later story.

My Whole Truth released on October 2.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from North Star Editions via
NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison – A Review

Willa can’t move on. It’s been three years since her husband died unexpectedly while alone at their beach house. She feels her teenage son Jamie has lost both parents, as she failed to be the mom he needed to work through his own grief.

Finally deciding it’s time to sell the beach house, she returns to it for the first time since Ben’s death. Arriving alone, she is quickly visited by Ben’s ghost. Is he real? Or is she losing her last connection to sanity? Reluctantly, Jamie joins his mother to help prepare the beach house for sale. Her best friend Kristin, and daughter Kelsey, soon join them.

I love it when an author takes a supernatural situation and makes it totally believable. Harbison accomplished this wonderfully. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, or in an afterlife, your heart will break for Willa as she questions her sanity and sinks into her grief.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing was top-notch. The characters were developed, and the settings were detailed. The ending was very satisfying.

There were F bombs, though it wasn’t overflowing with foul language as many of today’s reads can be. Overall, I wasn’t put off by the language, but prefer a clean read.

I give this book 5 stars (with an asterisk for language.)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from
St.Martin’s Press via NetGalley.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall– A Review

Tallulah James is a burdened middle-child in a beyond-dysfunctional family wrecked by mental illness. Her grandmother has taught her well to protect the family secrets and reputation above all else. What secret could be worth this pain of holding it in? Her older brother Griff promises to someday sweep her away to a better life in California, until a tragic event tears them apart and leaves Tallulah alone to hold together her imploding family.

When the family disintegrates, Tallulah heads out on her own, seeking the California dream she shared with Griff, only to find the ghosts of her childhood followed her. Unable to give herself fully to anyone, she pours her all into her career—until another crisis pulls her back to Lamoyne, Mississippi.

Returning to the place of her oppressive memories, will Tallulah break? Or will she finally be able to make peace with her past?

This story had me hooked from the first page. I felt Tallulah’s pain. Understood why she hid her heart behind a wall. I wanted someone to hold her and tell her it would be alright. I was totally invested in this character.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer belongs on a shelf with other classics. Not only is the story riveting—it is important. It features a bi-racial friendship in 1960s Mississippi. It tells—though briefly—the tale of those who fought for equal rights as well as those who didn’t understand. It discusses the devastation mental illness can heap on a family. It even rolls in a pot of corruption. There is far too much in this story to write in a review.

The quality of the writing is outstanding. Descriptions will have you dabbing the Mississippi sweat from your brow and smelling the dark waters of the alligator-infested river. The pace is excellent, and the story never lags. I will read more books by this author.

I give this book FIVE stars, only because that’s the maximum. There is the tiniest bit of foul language and sexual situations (nothing graphic), but I felt those areas made the story and the characters genuine and revealed an important layer to their personalities. I wouldn’t have a problem with my fourteen-year-old granddaughter reading it—and I’m cautious with what I expose my grandchildren to.

This book is the book by which all other summer reads will be weighed.

The Myth of Perpetual Summer released today, June 19.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, June 4, 2018

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker– A Review

I’ve read a lot of books.
Few like this.

I’ve read books that wowed me with the twist at the end. I’ve read books that were so-so yet had enough entertainment value to rate them worthwhile—and books that didn’t. I’ve read books that were of significance in the societal story they told. I’ve read books that made me laugh, books that made me cry, books that swept me away to a make-believe existence. But every once in a very long while, I read a book that grabs something inside of me and shakes it—grabs and won’t let go, pulling me into the life of a character so completely that I’m somehow melded with them in their struggle. 

To say I was invested in this character is a gross understatement. This is the kind of investment for which authors strive. Alicen McCaffrey begins her story quite unlikeable. A self-absorbed well-to-do, shallow, detached . . . Alicen quickly became someone I felt deeply sorry fornot just sympathetic, but my heart broke for her as I shared in her unbearable grief and resulting sickness. 

Having a brother with severe mental illness likely pulled me even stronger into this story. Witnessing his schizophrenia, it’s not hard to picture a non-existent world so real that you not only can touch it but be threatened by it—even to the point of death. Stay away if you are uncomfortable with a close-up story of grief and delusions. There were a few times early in where I wondered if this book would haunt me, leaving a scar on my sanity. Happy to say it didn’t. It just left a mark on my heart of a character so real I prayed she would make it through the darkness.

One minute I believed this was happening. A page later—no, it’s that. (Avoiding spoilers here.) The author is skilled at keeping me guessing throughout. The further I ventured, the harder it was to put down. I lost sleep. I love that about a book.

After finishing the last page (very late), my mind filled with tags: freaky, crazy, emotional, spiritually lifting, joy, grief, light, darkness, evil, goodness. Everything. Every emotion rolled into a very involved and evolving battle. I am desperate to forget everything about this book so that I can read it again with the same hope, fear, heartache, joy.

In other words, I really liked it. I give this book FIVE stars (because that’s the max.) I can’t wait to get my hands on another by this author. I guess I should ad that it’s well written and edited, and that the characters are well developed.

Available for pre-buy now, When Through Deep Waters releases on July 3.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble – A Review

Two people’s lives shattered.
Lied to by their own families—who
and what do they believe now?

When Ellie Blackmore’s sister goes missing and is presumed murdered, her path crosses with that of Coast Guard intelligence officer Grayson Bradshaw. Grayson believes Mackenzie faked her own death to cover her role in a cocaine theft. Ellie believes her sister is innocent—even when presented with stark evidence. Can they work together to solve the mystery of what happened to Mackenzie? And what does Mac’s disappearance have to do with Grayson’s hunt for a renowned terrorist?

I’m not a huge fan of Coble’s style of introducing several characters at once or stating their hair and eye-color when they enter a scene. Some of the extra details detracted from the flow of the story. (Like mentioning the two dogs and a cat by name.) I felt the secondary characters could have been developed more, but they weren’t prominent to the storyline. The plot wasn’t realistic to me, but it is fiction, after all. Still, I give this book four stars.

I enjoyed the setting and unique plot of this suspense. The characters are quite likable—except for the bad guys. There was a sideline about Grayson’s past that added a lot of emotional interest to the story. I liked the way the author tied the main characters together via Ellie’s friend. Coble threw in enough happenings and twists to keep the plot moving at a good pace. The story never felt redundant. A couple of times, I was thrown terribly off-course in guessing the culprit. I can honestly say I was entertained from beginning to end. 

Even though there was a romance involved, this story would appeal to men as well as women. I really enjoy clean Christian fiction. It is so refreshing to read good fiction without vulgar language or explicit sex scenes. This book’s focus is not about faith. In fact, the religious element in this story is almost non-existent, so secular readers will not have to roll their eyes. (Wink) I enjoyed this story enough to buy another of this author’s books for my TBR stack.

Available for pre-buy now, The House at Saltwater Point releases on July 3, 2018.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Friday, March 30, 2018

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin - A Review

Nina, a middle-class woman, married rich and became richer. Their son has been accepted to Princeton. Tom, a single dad, lives on the other side of town. Lyla, Tom’s daughter, tries hard to fit in at the expensive private school she attends on a scholarship.

Windsor is shaken when a scandalous photo circulates among the students—and parents—of the prestigious community. When her son is accused of taking the photo of Lyla, Nina’s life becomes intertwined with Tom’s as they try to protect Lyla from a situation that doesn’t seem to bother her. In fact, she is drawn to Nina’s son.

In one vivid scene, I felt like I was reading child porn. I’m uncomfortable with details of teenage sex meant to titillate. There is some language that might be offensive to some.

As I got farther into the story, I kept waiting for something else to happen. Eventually, something did. I would have liked the story keep building. Still, it kept me turning the pages.

The story is broken up by chapters into POVs of Nina, Tom, and Lyla. I really liked the main characters. Had it not been for the “child porn” scene, and had there been a couple more plot twists, I would have given it five stars.

Release date: June 26, 2018
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.