Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Sinners Garden by William Sirls

I can't tell you much about this book because I didn't get too far into it before losing interest and putting it down. Once I put down a book it's nearly impossible for me to pick it back up again and focus on the story.
To be honest, I was bored with this. I read the first eighty pages and was not pulled into the story at all.  I felt like by reading the back cover I already knew what was going to happen.

Looking back, I think I had this same problem with this author's first book. That being said, I know that not every reader enjoys every book, there are plenty of folks out there that will like this one, just not me.
Enter Today | 2/11 - 3/1!
William Sirls The Sinners' Garden

About the book: In the small Lake Erie township of Benning, someone is at work cultivating a supernatural garden . . .

Andy Kemp's young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.

As Andy's mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy's pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.

Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.
As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive "Summer Santa," Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.

Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.

This book was provided for review by LitFuse.

The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson

 When I pick up a book by Janice Thompson I know I'm in for a treat. Not a steak dinner kind of treat, but a chocolate truffle kind of treat. I love her books. She laces them with so much humor that I don't feel like I'm reading a story, I feel like I'm chatting with a friend who is telling me what has been going on in her life.
If you like deep fiction with symbolism, and reading between the lines then this is not for you. If you like a light, uplifting story that will make you laugh then grab this one!
This is the third in her Weddings by Design series and I love that we not only get to know Gabi, but we get to revisit the ladies from the previous books. The author also has a great way with injecting each story with the word of God, in a way that doesn't come across as preachy, but more like a soft wind that catches you by surprise.
If you want to read a book that will make you feel like you've snuggled down in a fluffy blanket with a cup of hot cocoa then this is perfect for you.
Here's the back cover so you can learn more about it:

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gary Chapman: The Marriage You've Always Wanted

Gary Chapman has long been my favorite relationship author. Let's face it, marriage is hard work! It gets easier over the years but in the beginning it is quite difficult. How can it not be? You're taking two very different people who had different backgrounds and putting them together with no real instruction manual other than a few weeks of pre-marriage counseling and a big old party with cake. You wake up a few days later and wonder who this person is and what on earth you were thinking.
This latest book by Chapman is small enough to not be intimidating, yet still packed with all of the advice that he is known for.
Nine chapters and a little over 130 pages, this book includes subjects such as Leaving and Honoring your parents, sex, money, why marriage, and more. This would be a great book for a marriage small group, a marriage retreat, or even a book club. Every chapter ends with several questions for discussion or personal reflection.
Your marriage is worth it! Buy yourself a copy of this one, Valentine's Day is the perfect day to do something for your relationship.

 About the book:
 You can picture the perfect marriage in your mind, but re-creating it in reality doesn’t come easy. Trusted counselor and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman reasons that the most sought-after ingredient in any marriage is true oneness. In The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, he presents expert wisdom and common sense methods to establishing that true unity on emotional and practical levels. Discover the wit and insight that makes his worldwide presentations and marriage conferences so popular. Are you trying to change your spouse? Do you know what it means to really love someone? Do you feel ignored or even alone in your effort to improve your marriage? Dr. Chapman has answers and action steps on topics from expressing your emotions to managing your money, all in a format that will have you and your spouse talking and learning with every page.
As anyone who has attended one of his marriage conferences knows, Dr. Gary Chapman’s expertise in marriage begins with the success and failures he and his wife Karolyn have experienced in their marriage for more than 45 years. He is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over thirty-five years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Many of the millions of readers credit this continual New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate love.

Since the success of his first book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his Five Love Languages series with special editions that reach out specifically to singles, men, and parents of teens and young children.
He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing, including Anger, The Family You’ve Always Wanted, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, Desperate Marriages, God Speaks Your Love Language, How to Really Love Your Adult Child, and Hope for the Separated. With Dr. Jennifer Thomas, he co-authored The Five Languages of Apology.

Dr. Chapman speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, A Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, both airing on more than 400 stations. Dr. Chapman and his wife have two grown children and currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church.

Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

They even have small group curriculum available:

This book was provided for review by FlyBy Promotions

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Friend Me by John Faubion

Oh my goodness, if you read one book this year make it Friend Me by John Faubion. This is going on my list of one of the best books I've ever read. And it's a debut novel. A debut! I wish all debuts were this good. I started it last night and finished it at noon today. Could not put this one down. Simply amazing. And all too real.
The author did a great job of drawing me into the story, explained everything so I was not confused at all (which, I admit, if I don't get a good explanation I'm sometimes really lost in a technical book). He wrote from the perspective of three people, a husband and his wife, and a psychopath named Melissa. He wrote the female parts with such accuracy that I had to keep reminding myself that it was written by a man. 
This book shows how easy it is, with social media, to fall into areas that you never think you would. And that fantasy of any kind is destructive. 
The only part of this that I didn't agree with was when the husband (Scott) was offered a job because he was the kind of man they were looking for. The man offering the job made Scott out to be a strong Christian, when all through the book we see Scott being anything but that. In real life Scott would need some counseling and accountability before being put into the position of leadership that he was offered. At least, that's how I know it to be after being in ministry for nearly 22 years.

This book was provided for review by LitFuse.

From the back cover:
"You're afraid you are becoming unfaithful, aren't you?'
Scott and Rachel's marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. But neither realizes that there's a much larger problem looming...
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant--and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the Virtual Friend Me software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all--Scott, his family, and Rachel's life.
As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it's a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it's too late.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Shadowed by Grace by Cara C. Putman

Shadowed by Grace by Cara C. Putman captured me on the first page. I've always been enamored by the 1940s and this book fed that hunger that I have. It led me from the USA to Italy, a country that I'm somewhat familiar with since I've heard stories of it all of my life. It was interesting to travel with the characters and see the country through their eyes, knowing that it wasn't much different than when my immigrant grandfather knew it. 
I found it a little hard to keep my interest throughout the whole book, some parts were confusing and the switching back and forth between calling characters by their first or last names kept me wondering if I was sure of who was who.
If you're looking for a good romance with some WWII era history then this is a recommended book for you. 

 You can learn more about the author at her website.

From the back cover:

Desperate to save her dying mother, an American woman accepts her newspaper's assignment to travel to Italy where she takes photographs dangerously close to the front lines during World War II. But Rachel's real motive in this journey is to find the father she never knew, an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive at such a desperate time.
In her quest, Rachel becomes involved with what will become the Monuments Men effort to save great monuments and works of art from the Third Reich. Soon enough she will find more than she ever imagined--in war, in love, and in God.

This book was provided for review by LitFuse.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wishing on Buttercups by Miralee Ferrell

I believe this is the first book I've read by this author. Wishing on Buttercups by Miralee Ferrell is the second in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series and is quite the tear jerker.
This one has some mystery, some romance, humor, and plenty of conflict. 
I enjoyed watching the young couple get to know each other and fall in love as much as I enjoyed watching an older couple do the same.
The memories and descriptions came alive in my mind and I could view the etchings as surely as they were in front of me. Excellent wording and beautifully written.
Thanks, Miralee, for this clean read!

This book was provided for review by David C Cook

From the back cover:
Can love survive when secrets collide?
She'd kept her secrets--those from her past, and those in the present--safely hidden. Beth Roberts knows that some things a lady simply doesn't share--especially in the 1880s West. After all, the townspeople would never understand. No one ever has.
Jeffrey Tucker, a handsome young writer, has kept his own secrets. He doesn't have the right to pry into Beth's affairs but finds himself strangely drawn to her and intrigued by the whiff of mystery surrounding her.
Beth knows that one day, someone will unravel the threads of her life. And when two men from the past arrive, the truth might just hurt...both Beth's future and her heart.
As shadowy memories surface, Beth sketches the scenes she sees and is shocked by what--and who--her illustrations reveal. Dare she risk her heart again? 

Purchase your copy here

Poison Town by Creston Mapes

Fast moving and full of twists and turns that I never saw coming, Poison Town by Creston Mapes was almost a little over my head.
Reminiscent of a Julia Roberts movie this novel about a powerful manufacturing company and the hold it has on mostly everyone, while sickening others, is and all too real portrayal of corporate greed and the ends to which a company will go to keep its secrets.
I had a hard time keeping the names and characters straight in the beginning because there were so many. Also, in the beginning some of the "hillbilly" types talked in a jargon that included words like "git" and I found it hard to read, that tapered off though and they switched to normal talking.
This book was a quick read, took just a little over two hours to get through. I enjoyed it, but not as much as other genre's. I prefer something a little more light hearted.

About the book:

In this breathtaking follow-up to Fear Has a Name, investigative reporter Jack Crittendon learns his long-time friend and mechanic has fallen suspiciously ill. The man’s likeable sons and neighbors blame a mega-manufacturing plant on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio, for the sickness and death ravaging their loved ones.

When Jack investigates, he becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, setups, greed, and scandal. The deeper he digs, without his editor’s permission, the more toxic the corruption he uncovers. As Jack meets the big-time players behind the scenes and tries to beat the clock before more people die, he realizes the chillingly unthinkable—he knows too much.

Author Bio(s)
Creston Mapes is the author of Fear Has a Name, Nobody, Dark Star, and Full Tilt. A journalist, copywriter, and editor, he works from his home-office in Atlanta for some of the nation’s top media companies, Christian ministries, and nationally-recognized corporations. His early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.

This book was provided for review by David C Cook Publishing.

You can purchase a copy here.