Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a thick volume full of technical information and not the more practical stuff that I was looking for. I was so excited to get this book to review from the Blogging for Books program, but was equally as unexcited when I realized it wasn't a Christian book and was, in fact, littered with mild obscenities that I didn't appreciate. While the idea is a good one (explaining introverts to the rest of the world and giving introverts ways to make it in an extroverted world), there was so much, "this study revealed this" kind of stuff that I lost interest pretty quickly and found it hard to concentrate on. I do admire the time and effort put into this book by the author, but for me, I think a better choice would have been Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh. I was disappointed in this book. I was hoping for more, "do this and you won't feel as awkward in social situations" conversation.

About the book:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

River's Call by Melody Carlson

River's Call is the second in the THE INN AT SHINING WATERS series by the fabulous Melody Carlson. How she pumps out book after book is beyond me. And they're all different. And interesting. And good. This volume was so satisfying to me, I loved catching up with Anna and her friends and family. This time Anna is watching her daughter Lauren's life unravel little by little. Anna wants to help before it's too late and before Lauren's own daughter is damaged by the influences around her.

This book made me want to check into the Inn and stay for a while, to delight in French delicacies prepared by Babette, to have tea with the two elderly ladies in residence, to paddle a canoe down the river and to learn more about Anna's Indian heritage. Melody truly made this one come alive to me and I enjoyed it more than the first. Can't wait to see what happens to this cast of characters in the next (and sadly, last) book.

This book was provided for review by Glass Road Public Relations.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

Author Beth Wiseman steps away from writing Amish fiction with her first contemporary novel about a family on the brink of disaster. I loved this book! Read it in less than a day and could not put it down. That reminds me, I need to stick clothes in the dryer...
This was very well written but there were a couple of things that threw me out of the story for a bit. The kids getting up early to watch the Space Shuttle launch (that program was ended, probably too late to change in the book before publication), and one time when Darlene went shopping and left the groceries in the car for hours in the summer without once worrying that they'd spoil. Other than that I adored this book.
Darlene and Brad seem to have the perfect life, perfect marriage, but nothing is ever as it seems to be. When things threaten to shake their foundation will they be able to stand strong to their vows and to their faith? An excellent book on marriage and family.
This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group
About the book and author:

Clinging to the One that Matters Most

In her first contemporary release, best-selling author

Beth Wiseman explores growing stronger in the broken places of life.

We all count on the support of those around us when times are tough, but what do we do when those we depend on the most are suddenly gone? How do we cope when life has pulled the rug out from under us and left us with nothing and no one to hold on to? To whom can we turn when it seems no one, not even God, is there? These are the questions best-selling author Beth Wiseman addresses in her first contemporary novel, Need You Now (Thomas Nelson)

While Wiseman will be the first to tell you her writing has been “all over the place,” this award-winning journalist did not start writing fiction until, through a personal crisis in her own life, her faith was so strengthened that her agent suggested she write a Christian novel. Following the advice, she left journalism behind in 2008 to become a full-time writer of Amish fiction and has been winning awards for her efforts ever since. All of her full-length novels and novellas have been bestsellers and she was the 2010 INSPY Award winner, 2011 Carol Award winner from American Christian Fiction Writers and the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award winner. Using her skills as a novelist to continue “reporting” on the needs, concerns and issues most prevalent in today’s society, Wiseman now relies on the characters in her works of fiction, rather than newsprint, to convey the important messages upon which she chooses to focus.

After the safety of one of their children is threatened, Need You Now main character Darlene Henderson and her husband Brad choose to move their family from Houston to the dot-in-the-road town of Round Top, Texas, moving into the old fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. Adjusting to the change is more difficult than any of them imagined, especially for the middle child, 15-year-old Grace, who becomes a cutter, using a dangerous and particularly self-damaging way of coping with stress.

The move also begins to take a toll on the couple’s marriage when Darlene decides to take a job outside the home in an effort to make new friends in the community. As the domestic tension rises, both begin to wonder if the same shared faith that has carried them through difficult times in the past will be strong enough to help them now.

To make matters worse, Darlene begins receiving inappropriate attention from the widowed father of the autistic young girl she is assigned to work with at the school for special needs children where she is employed. Unfortunately, this new attention comes just when she is most vulnerable. If there has ever been a time in her life when she needed God, it is now. But will she allow arising feelings of unworthiness to keep her from seeking Him?

In her first novel not set in an Amish community, Wiseman spins her well-honed characters and setting into a thought-provoking message that not only makes the reader ponder his or her own relationship with God, but also sheds light on the little-known disorders of using self-injury as a way of seeking relief and high-functioning autism. Need You Now is the perfect read for anyone who has ever questioned life and God’s will.

While Need You Now will not appear on bookstore shelves until April 2012, eager readers will be given a sneak peek as early as February 21. Beginning on that date, the first half of the book will be made available in digital format (e-book) to readers from all major e-book retailers for only 99 cents. The second half of the e-book and full e-book will then be made available for sale in early April. The full paperback version will be released on April 17, 2012.

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

Sixty Acres and A Bride is the debut novel by Regina Jennings. She got the idea for this book when she was asked to write a fifteen minute skit for her church. That skit turned into much more. This book is about Rosa, a Mexican widow who's more than a little uncomfortable in her small town in America. She decided to follow her mother-in-law (also a widow) back to her hometown, reminiscent of the Ruth and Naomi story in the Bible. This book was well-written and sweet, the villain was the perfect bad guy and the ending of the story made me swoon. I enjoyed reading about Rosa's cooking style and the dances from her homeland.

About the book:
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to their Texas family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have just three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa falls in love with the countryside. She can’t help but stand out, though, and her beauty captures attention. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable, and Rosa must decide to what lengths she will go to save her future.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House

Monday, March 26, 2012

Letters to Heaven GIVEAWAY

A few weeks ago I reviewed Letters to Heaven by Calvin Miller. I was thrilled when the publisher offered me a giveaway for you, my readers. This giveaway includes a copy of the Letters to Heaven book and also some artfully crafted "Letters to Heaven" stationery, courtesy of Worthy Publishers.

Created specifically for Calvin and this incredible book, the Letters to Heaven stationery offers individuals a beautiful template to start their words of healing.

These few pages may start you on a path where you begin to let the people who've influenced your life know how you feel about them. What if we all lived that way? What if we all showed each other how grateful we are for them? It could change the world.

To be entered into this giveaway please leave a comment telling me who has had the biggest influence in your life and why. Bonus entry if you tweet or share on Facebook (let me know what you do!)

Contest runs until Sunday the first of April.

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

When I'm packing for vacation I always hope I've chosen the right books to take with me. There's nothing worse for a reader than to be miles away from their personal library with only a few select books to choose from. For our trip south last week I packed The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck and I've got to say that this was the best possible book I could've taken with me. With characters that made me laugh and cry, a romance that melted my heart, and a travel through part of America's past this was truly an enjoyable read. I haven't felt this satisfied after finishing a book in a long time. I sat on the sun-filled deck and wiped my eyes while sighing in contentment at the ending. Kudo's to Rachel for another fantastic story.

Charlotte is a single woman without any family, she owns a bridal boutique and prides herself in being able to find the perfect dress for any bride but has been unable to find her own gown for her wedding that's less than two months away. Charlotte attends an auction and finds herself bidding a crazy amount for an antique trunk, she wins the auction and takes the trunk home but is unable to open it because it's been welded shut. When she finally gets it open she finds a wedding dress that appears to be brand new but she eventually learns that it was worn by three women and their stories intertwine with her own until she finds that she really isn't without a family heritage to call her own.

Don't miss this one! It's delightful!
This book was provided for review by Booksneeze.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More Beauty Less Beast by Debora Coty

More Beauty Less Beast by Debora Coty was delightful to read. With 34 small chapters it'd be easy to use this as a daily devotional book for a month. Each 2-3 page chapter has a Bible verse to go with it and is full of true stories (some hysterical!) from Debora's own experiences. She challenges the reader to change from the inside out and to become a truly beautiful woman of God. She even goes so far as to include several questions at the end of each chapter so you can reflect on what you've read.

The only thing I didn't really like about this book was the way she referred to God as "Papa-God." It reminded me too much of Papa Smurf, but that's just me. I can tell by her other words that she didn't mean it to be derogatory in any way but some readers may be put off by it.

There are a lot of gems in this book and I recommend it highly. You'll love it and it'll remind you that you are who you are because it's who you were created to be.

This book was provided for review by Litfuse.