Lost & Found by Sarah Jakes

Sarah Jakes, daughter of well-known pastor T.D. Jakes, has lived a life with many twists and turns.  She became pregnant at age 13, began college at age 16, and was the divorced mother of two by age 25.  Her brutally honest story of running from God resonates with readers.  Although the specifics of her story might not match up with readers, the emotions behind the story does.  Sarah shares the truth that no matter how lost we are, we can all be found.

Sarah does a great job of demonstrating through her story how our choices impact our lives.  Sometimes when we make one bad choice, it leads to another bad choice, and before we know it, we are trying to hide from God and are hopelessly lost.  However, the hope we have is in God, who never gives up on us and always seeks to find us.  Even though Sarah’s experience is unique to her, the lessons she shares are beneficial to all.

The only criticism I have for this book is the format.  Interspersed throughout the book are statements from the prose that are restated in a larger font on the margins.  It seemed like in the latter quarter of the book, the statements became more frequent and at times took up the entire page.  It always made me anticipate the ending of a chapter when the full-page quote occurred, but it rarely coincided with the end of a chapter.  I found it disconcerting while reading.

If you are looking for a story to fill you with hope and inspiration, this is a good choice.  Sometimes we all need a reminder that we are not too lost to be found.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Goldtown Adventures Series by Susan K. Marlow

Follow the adventures of Jem Coulter, a twelve-year-old living in California at the height of the Gold Rush.  In Canyon of Danger, Jem is left in charge of the ranch while his sheriff father travels to Sacramento.  However, being the man-in-charge isn’t quite as easy as his father makes it look and Jem gets in to one scrape after another.  Somehow, Jem must find a way to put things right- before his father returns home.

In River of Peril, Jem is able to travel with his father on his next trip to Sacramento.  Jem is excited because he has never traveled so far from home.  However, his misadventures begin when their stage is held up by highwaymen after their shipment of gold.  Then, after they arrive safely in Sacramento, Jem and his sister are exploring the docks and are invited to tour a riverboat.  Jem’s misadventures continue when he overhears some of the same highwaymen aboard the riverboat.  Shortly afterward, Jem’s sister disappears.  It is up to Jem to rescue her before it’s too late.

These books are classified as juvenile fiction, but I enjoyed them very much.  The language and storyline are easy for younger readers to enjoy, but the plot offers up some unexpected surprises that make these books enjoyable for adults to read, too.  These books would be great to supplement curriculum when studying the days of the California Gold Rush, to give students insight into every day life at the time.

Jem’s faith and his dependence on God in times of difficulty and uncertainty is encouraging, and his respect and conviction to do the right thing is admirable.  He is a great role model for juvenile readers.  I love the way Marlow pulls in a lot of American history into her tales, such as the Pony Express, riverboats, and the building of the railroads.

These two books, Canyon of Danger and River of Peril are books 3 & 4 in Marlow’s Goldtown Adventures Series.  I haven’t read the first two books, Badge of Honor or Tunnel of Gold, but it was easy to get a feel for the characters and their history.

If you are looking for a read-aloud for younger boys or independent reading for readers into chapter books, look no further.  I don’t have anything negative to say about these.  They are perfect, especially for boys that might be resistant to reading.  The stories move quickly and will hold their interest.  Sometimes it is difficult to find decent books for boys, but I think these are great!

I received complimentary copies of these books from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult, Boys Under 12, Girls Under 12, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Threads of Change by Jodi Barrows

Four cousins travel together from Louisiana to Texas to start a new life.  Sharing the rigors of the trail and responsibilities of establishing a home on the frontier, they also share laughter, faith, and a love of quilting.  Liz Bromont, one of the cousins, is newly widowed and grieves for the loss of her husband.  Is she ready to move forward with her life and a new love?

This book started off very slowly for me and I thought I might not ever get in to it.  However, once the women started their journey to Texas, the storyline picked up and became more interesting to me.  It turned out to be a nice story, after all.  The plot was fairly predictable, but the characters were endearing.  I think I would have enjoyed this book more if each of the characters had been developed as much as Liz.  I can only anticipate that in the other books in this series, the author will focus on each of the other cousins.

I did enjoy reading about the quilts and the stories that the women put into their quilts.  It would have made the book better for me if the author had started off each chapter with a drawing or sketch of a different quilt block.

If you are looking for a nice, easy reading book to pass the time, you might enjoy this one.  With summer coming, this would make a nice book to read on the beach or beside the pool.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Guiltless Living by Ginger Hubbard

Ginger Hubbard shares her personal struggles with sin and how it is manifested in her life.  Her writing style is refreshing, her stories are honest, and the goal is to help readers grow closer to Jesus.

This book is great!  It made me laugh out loud and made me fight back tears.  At the very beginning of the book, Hubbard asks readers not to write her or email her to tell her that her stories demonstrate un-Christian-like behavior.  She knows that her behavior is sinful and unlikable.  Indeed, sin is ugly and unlikable.  Personally, I can relate to Hubbard’s struggles with pride and vanity, impatience and compulsive, controlling behavior.  I think the best part of this book is the way it encourages readers to be real, remove the mask, and not try to hide our sins.  The fact is that we are all sinful creatures, in need of a Savior.  No matter how hard we try, we will still sin.

I can’t wait to read another book by Hubbard.  She is a funny writer, and I enjoyed this book very much!  If you are looking for a funny, engaging read, this is the book for you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Outcasts by Jill Williamson

In Outcasts, book two of The Safe Lands series, Williamson keeps readers on the edge of their seats as the Glenrock captives work together to try to rescue the children that were taken from them and figure out a way to leave the Safe Lands.  Although they all have similar goals, Mason, Levi, and Omar have different strategies.  Mason is trying to find a cure to the disease that afflicts the people in the Safe Lands, while Omar steps into a role of his own making, that of a vigilante to bring justice to the Safe Lands.  While the three brothers escape with their people?  Or will them discover what liberation really means?

This book starts off really slowly.  I had to wait a fair amount of time in between reading the first book in this series, Captives, and reading this one.  At first, it was hard to remember all the characters from the previous book and the specifics of their story in the past.  However, as I read, I got to know the characters all over again and I came to a point where I couldn’t put the book down.  I was disappointed when I came to the end, because I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Williamson does a great job with the characterization of each person in the story.  They are all different, but they stay true to who they are, and readers get the chance to really understand what motivates them and the choices they make.  However, there are plenty of surprises to keep the interest level high!  There are a lot of twists and turns to enjoy as the characters try to decide who they can and can not trust.

I like the way Williamson touches on topics present in our society today, but without making it too obvious or overtly sharing her views.  It made me think about some things while I was reading, which enhanced the reading experience.  It is a very cleverly written book!

If you like to read books that imagine what the future might be like, you will enjoy this series.  I think I will go back and read book one and then this one again, just to get a more cohesive experience with the characters.  I do think that readers should read the first book and then this one, because there isn’t a lot of back story given.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult | 1 Comment

Free Nook Book Friday

Today’s Free Nook Book Friday offering is Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller.

I haven’t read this book yet, but it sounds like an interesting book.  I wanted to share the information while it is free so you can get it if it sounds interesting to you.

Check out the link below for the Free Friday offering:

www.barnesandnoble.com/nook-blog/

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Confessions of a boy-crazy girl by Paula Hendricks

Hendricks shares her story of chasing after boy after boy after boy in an honest, straight-forward manner.  She tells of how she manufactured relationships in her own mind, only to be disappointed again and again.  Hendricks encourages readers to guard their hearts by sharing her struggle in learning to guard her own heart and explains what that means for young girls.  Eventually, Hendricks tells of how she realized chasing after boys would never fill the void, by realizing that only God can fill her and meet all of her needs.

I can’t wait to share this book with every one I know with teenage girls.  Kids are pushed into relationships at ever-younger ages and girls accumulate boyfriends at unprecedented rates.  I have never heard anyone explain the concept of guarding your heart better than Hendricks does in her book.  To quote a dear friend when I told her about this book, “Where was this book when I was a teenager!”.

I don’t think this book replaces parental counsel and good role model mentors in the lives of young girls, but I do think that girls need to get this message from a lot of different sources.  I appreciate Hendricks for supporting and sharing this message!  The quote, human rejection is sometimes God’s divine intervention, is one I will remember to use in the future.

If you have a teen or pre-teen girl in your life that you care about, get this book for her.  It will help equip her for the battle to guard and protect her heart!

I received a complimentary copy from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Adult | 1 Comment