Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada

A Spectacle of Glory is a yearly devotional designed to teach you how to glorify God in every situation. It was written by Joni Eareckson Tada, who has spent 50 years living life in constant chronic pain as a quadriplegic. Through her trials and suffering, Joni learned how to glorify God in even the toughest situations, and wrote this devotional in the hopes that the reader would also discover how to trust and follow God even throughout the most painful and trying times.

I have only had the opportunity to do a few weeks of this devotional before writing this review. However, the days that I have finished have been very enjoyable. Many of the prayers and devotions were very encouraging and just what I needed that day. For example, as I sat down and read the devotional on January 1st, I was feeling very discouraged about finding a job and finishing my master’s thesis. Then I read the prayer for that day:"Lord, I've never been this way before. I have no idea what this year will hold, for my health, for opportunities to serve you, for people to love and help and challenge in Your strong name. No matter whether the travel is easy or a mad scramble up a slippery trail in the dark, I know You-- my Guide, my God, my Friend, --will be with me.” That was exactly what I needed to hear and pray in that moment.

        One of the only issues I had in the beginning with this devotional is that each day is very short. You only get a snippet of reading, and I thought that because it was so short the ideas would not be very developed. I was wrong, however, because she truly managed to develop each idea a thought provoking way. The condensed nature helps you to not lose focus, and to be able to truly think on what is being said. All in all, it is a great devotional and one I will continue to use daily throughout the year.
Note: I received this devotional for free in exchange for my honest review from Handlebar Publishing. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Untraceable, by S.R. Johannes, is the first novel in the Nature of Grace series. It is a young adult mystery/thriller about a girl named Grace who has grown up surrounded by nature in the Smoky Mountains, and with a forest ranger father that taught her wilderness survival skills. While out on a daily patrol, Grace’s father goes missing, and while the town authorities and officials believe him to be dead, Grace refuses to give up the search for him. She starts her own search, and one day when she is out looking for any clues that would lead her to her father, she runs into danger and is rescued by a handsome, mysterious young man named Mo. Using the survival skills taught to her by her father, Grace sets out on a journey into the wilderness to find him and bring him home.  Everything is not what is seems, however, and soon Grace finds herself in life or death situation where she has to fight to save the people she loves.

I really enjoyed this book. I am not a big fan of mystery/thriller books, and I usually stick to fantasy and dystopian genres, but I thought I would give this one a go. I am glad I did, because this book was not boring in the slightest. It was exciting and fast paced, and full of emotion. I also loved the nature aspect of it, and how the author threw in issues such as poaching. Many of the scenes in the book were intense and educational for what actually goes on with poaching, wildlife conservation, etc. Overall, I highly recommend this book, and I am definitely going to be reading the second book in the series.
Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley

City of Legends by Cheyenne Young

City of Legends by Cheyanne Young was a pleasantly surprising young adult fantasy novel. I have read many books in my days that have all had similar premises, yet I have yet to come across a plot like this one. City of Legends tells the story of a world where Supers (super heroes), have existed and lived in a society apart from humans for as long as anyone can remember. The main protagonist, Maci Knight, has grown up watching her father and brother, who are both Heroes worshipped by Supers and Humans alike, fight to protect the humans from villains. She has trained her whole life, and wants nothing more than to become a Hero and protect humankind. However, on the day before her 18th birthday, the day she will officially test to become a Hero, she learns that she was born a twin, and this is a secret that changes everything. In the Super world, when a set of twins are born, one twin ALWAYS turns into a villain, but there is no way of knowing which twin will be good or evil. Burdened with this knowledge, and fighting growing feelings such as violence, rage, and revenge, she finds herself wondering if she will ever become the Hero she has waited all of her life to be.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the other characters, and learning about what it is like to live as a Super. However, I felt like the character’s descriptions and cultural descriptions were a bit lacking. I would have enjoyed learning more about their world, etc. It was a very fast paced book, and I read it in one sitting. It had a lot of action, and a bit of romance in it, which is always good. I will definitely be reading the other ones in the series, and I am looking forward to learning what happens to Maci and the other Supers.
Note: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Risuko by David Kudler

Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale, written by David Kudler, was a treat to read. It is the first book in his Seasons of the Sword series, and tells the story of a young girl who is nicknamed Risuko (squirrel) because of her love and gift for climbing. This gift eventually leads to her being discovered and sold to headmistress of a remote, mysterious school, where she learns she is on the path to becoming a kunoichi warrior.

I have to say, when I first started reading this book, I found it to be boring and slow. In fact, it took me months to actually read it because I kept starting and stopping in favor of reading other books. However, once I got past the beginning, the story really started to pick up speed, and I found myself really enjoying it and wanting to see what happened next. I like how the girls in the book who were new to the school were not immediately immersed into intense training, and a save the world mindset. Instead they were well-fed and made to do beneficial chores and tasks that slowly became more difficult in order to ease them into the intense lifestyle of a warrior. I also really love reading about the Japanese culture, and there was a lot of history and culture (food, ancients customs, etc) in this book. Overall, I really enjoyed Risuko, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the other installments in his series.
**I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley**

Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross

            I was really very excited when I received the opportunity to review Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross. I usually try not to read and review non-fiction books in an attempt to take a break from reading difficult subject matter apart from my graduate classes. However, this book tempted me because it is all about God’s Creation, and as a Christian environmental scientist my goal in life is to take care of and protect what God created in the beginning. Improbable Planet tells of how Earth as we know it came into existence, how each miraculous event leading to its Creation was not an accident. There is a design and a purpose in the Creation of the universe and the planet we call home that goes beyond what modern science teaches.

            I have to say, I absolutely loved this book! It is written in such a way that anyone with or without a scientific background could understand. Yes, there were some parts that dealt with complex subject matter, but for the most part, laymen and experts alike should be able to understand most of the concepts presented within the book.  I also believe that this book is an excellent book for anyone interested in Creationism to read. Not everybody will agree with everything presented in this book, but nonetheless, it provides the reader with so much critical and important information about the origin of our planet and life on Earth. Ross’s goal when writing this book was, as he put it “to demonstrate how our seemingly “imperfect” universe fits with a two-creation model of reality…that this universe serves as a launchpad for the new creation to come--a reality more perfect than any of us can think of or imagine, one that fulfills all our greatest hopes and deepest longings.”

**I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Baker Publishing**

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

            I have to say right off that I absolutely loved this novel! Counted with the Stars, by Connilyn Cossette, is a retelling of the Biblical account of Exodus. It tells the story of a young Egyptian named Kiya who is sold into slavery by her Father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry. When the terrible plagues of the Exodus come, Kiya is in the midst of it and affected like all of the other Egyptians. While Kiya is serving in the household, she meets another servant girl who is a Hebrew. In order to save her brother and escape slavery, Kiya flees with her and the other Hebrews who have been set free from bondage. She finds herself relying entirely on the unknown God of the Hebrews, and finds herself drawn to Him in ways she never could have imagined.

This book was fantastic and thought provoking! It was very well written and its historical and cultural details were vivid and exceptional. I really enjoyed reading about the different aspects of Egyptian and Hebrew culture that I had not heard about before. It was also interesting to see the biblical story of Exodus through the eyes of an Egyptian, not a Hebrew. The way it was written, you got to see both the Hebrew and Egyptian sides of the story, which really gave the well-known story more depth and made it that much more intriguing. This book also had an aspect of romance to it, which is always a plus. The part I enjoyed the most, however, was watching Kiya develop a relationship with God. As an Egyptian she was raised to worship idols and many different gods. She struggled with accepting a God that was not her own, yet deep down inside she instinctively knew that He was real, that He was her salvation. It was wonderful to get to follow along with her journey and ultimately her decision to follow God and allow Him into her heart.  I cannot say how much I recommend this book, and I truly hope Connilyn Cossette writes many more novels for readers to enjoy.

Note: I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House Publishing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bathsheba by Angela Hunt

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt was a great book. This is the first book I have read from Angela Hunt’s A Dangerous Beauty series, and I hope I receive the opportunity to read the others in this series as well. This novel is a retelling of the biblical story of Bathsheba. It starts out as Bathsheba as a child, destined to be mother to a great man. Eventually Bathsheba becomes engaged to Uriah, who is a warrior for King David. Uriah leaves to go to war, and Bathsheba is left behind with her sister and former nursemaid. She is a very beautiful woman, and eventually she catches the eye of King David. King David eventually rapes her, and when she moves into the palace as one of his wives her life changes forever.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. It was very well written, and the Old Testament biblical story came to life with her writing. She really did her research, and this entire book was well thought out. I enjoyed reading the author's take on this story. I like how we saw David’s remorse at the sin he committed, and that we got to see Bathsheba learn how to forgive and care for the man who essentially ruined her life. It was overall a very engaging novel, and had biblical principles and ideas throughout. I definitely recommend this book, and hope I get the chance to read the other novels by Angela Hunt.

Note: I recieved this book for free in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House Publishing.