Contemporary Fiction #bookreview: Takes One to Know One by #SusanIsaacs @GroveAtlantic

Takes One to Know One by Susan Isaacs

My review: 4 of 5 Stars

Lots of sleuthing and snark make Takes One to Know One enjoyable reading. I delighted in the characters and the crisp dialogue. The pace was steady, not a gripping page-turner. The mystery of Pete Delaney and the witty chatter of Corrie Geller kept me reading despite the slower pace. Toward the end the drama increased quite a bit, and the suspense and intrigue grew. The only real action came late in the book but made for a tense few chapters where I learned a bit about self-defense and zip-ties. If you don’t mind the strong language and like cozy mysteries, Takes One to Know One should be appealing. 

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note I received a free copy from the publisher via BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. 

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels @RevellBooks

The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

My review: 4 of 5 Stars

The Words Between Us is, at its heart, a love story between Robin, Peter and their books and words. It is also a story about forgiveness and moving forward. Bartels immediately draws the reader in with a character whose tragic past makes her both interesting and mysterious. I wanted to root for Robin, and sometimes I did. Other times she was so bitter and defensive that I wondered how Peter could love her the way he did. My reaction to most of the characters was mixed because Bartels made them complex and not easy to like. The narrative was woven between the past and the present until the past caught up. This technique added perspective and helped the reader better understand the characters. Books and words were lovingly conveyed to the point of adoration. I could appreciate this because I also love books, but sometimes it was a bit much. The ending leaves the reader with the sense of a Happily Ever After but not a certainty which was, I felt, realistic and acceptable. As Robin finally began to let go of her past and her bitterness, the book became a more enjoyable read. I recommend The Words Between Us for those who love bookstores and classic literature.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Young Adult Adventure Book Review: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

My review: 5 of 5 stars

Song of the Current swept me away immediately with adventure and excitement. Tolcser’s careful attention to detail made her created world come alive. With a savvy and plucky heroine to lead the adventure, Song of the Current was often amusing as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp down the river. Recommended for older teens due to the sex and violence.

Quotes:

“The god at the bottom of the river speaks to us in the language of small things” (p. 72).

“A heroine is always someone who wants out” (p. 206).

“There is a reckless freedom in leaving behind everything you know” (p. 236).

“Maybe we can leave things behind, yet still hand on the the best parts of them” (p. 350).

The sequel is out as well.

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

If you like family drama, Ask Again, Yes fits the bill. Keane writes a story with a tight grasp of time, place and character. But it is tragic. This is not a happy story, but it is definitely juicy and intense. Ask Again, Yes delves deeply into the lives of two families forever connected by one horrible event. I disagreed with the author’s assessment of her characters’ well-being at the end. She tied up some very messy lives just a bit too nicely. Nevertheless, the drama and the flawed but interesting characters kept me turning the pages. It was a fast, dramatic read.

Quotes:

“Once a cop always a cop, the guys said when they visited. But the more they said it the less it rang true” (p. 169).

“Kate thought about their wedding day as a conclusion to something, where he thought about it as a beginning. Rising action versus falling action. They were reading two different books” (p. 309).

I ordered this book from the Book of the Month Club.

Fantasy Romance Book Review: Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer Book 1) by Maxym M. Martineau


Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer Book 1)

My review: 5 of 5 stars

Kingdom of Exiles magically blends fantasy, romance, adventure and mystery to create a page-turning story. In this case, you CAN judge a book by its beautiful cover art. With complex and compelling characters and their many secrets, Kingdom of Exiles makes the reader want to keep peeling back the layers to see what lies beneath. Death and love are inextricably linked in an surprisingly sensual way giving the romance more intensity. As the beginning of a series, Kingdom of Exiles ends with not all mysteries solved and many enticing hints about what’s coming. I’m already itching to pick up the next book. If you like your romances clean and sweet, this book is not for you. But if you like passionate love stories with complicated characters immersed in fantasy worlds, grab this book when it is released on June 25. You won’t be disappointed.

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Christian Memoir Book Review: Midwife of Borneo by Wendy Grey Rogerson and Barbara Fox @SPCKPublishing

Midwife of Borneo

My review: 4.5 of 5 stars

Midwife of Borneo is a fascinating memoir with an immediate and persistent sense of adventure. Rogerson recounts captivating stories about the trials, tribulations, dangers, and joys of missionary work. Fox helped Rogerson create a narrative from the extensive journal entries and letters that Rogerson wrote, giving each story and observation detail and authenticity despite the many years that have passed since Rogerson’s experiences in Borneo. I couldn’t help but admire this midwife of Borneo for her tenacity, honesty, and humility. Her matter-of-fact tone offers glimpses into her emotional and spiritual journey but left me wanting more. Nevertheless, I read Midwife of Borneo in one sitting (staying up until 3 AM), and thoroughly enjoyed it. I highly recommend it to fans of adventurous memoirs and biographies.

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Quotes:

“The East would not mean just new sights and experiences but also a change in the way I looked at and thought about things” (p.19).

“I had found my vocation, though it tested me severely at times” (p. 75).

Christian Book Review: Q & A Bible Verse 5 – Year Journal @SPCKPublishing

Q & A Bible Verse 5 – Year Journal

My review: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been recording in this journal for a little over a month now and have found that I like it a great deal. I recently completed a secular version of the Q & A 5 – year journal, and in the process, gained insight as I watched my answers changed each year. This Bible Verse version is even better. The cover is lovely, and each day presents a new verse and related question. I look forward to seeing how my answers evolve over the next 5 years. I do wish the questions had a little more meat to them, so I could dig a bit deeper. Even so, I’m enjoying the experience of keeping this journal and recommend it to fans of journal keeping, particularly people who have a limited amount of time to devote to the practice.

Please note: I received a free copy of this journal from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

We’re Hungry Too by Sylvia Green #ChildrensBookReview @ivpress

We’re Hungry Too by Sylvia Green

My review: 3 of 5 stars

The concept of thinking of the needs of others is a good one, and the illustrations were pretty good, but I thought the text left something to be desired. It simply wasn’t catchy or clever or particularly interesting. I doubt this is one that children would want to read more than once. I did like the resources at the end that helped guide people to organizations that feed and care for animals as well as people. Searching for the animals pictured in the back of the book also added a bit to the appeal. Still for a picture book, I found it to be just average. If a parent, teacher or guardian wanted to impart the idea of feeding others, it would suffice.

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

#ChristianFiction #BookReview: The Sensible Shoes Series by Sharon Garlough Brown @ivpress

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown (BK 1 of The Sensible Shoes series)
My review: 5 of 5 stars

Sensible Shoes is not just a novel; it is an immersive experience. If it were merely a novel, I would have given it 4 stars rather than 5. But, because it goes further, taking the reader along on a spiritual journey with the characters, I felt it deserved another star.

In the book, four women are drawn into a spiritual formation journey at a retreat center:

Hannah – a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is
Meg – a widow and recent empty-nester haunted by her past
Mara – a woman who has bounced from one relationship to another and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage
Charissa – a hard-working grad student trying to get things right

The characters are realistic, believable, and sympathetic. Any woman reading Sensible Shoes should be able to relate in some way to one or more of the characters. The reader is taught key spiritual practices and taken on the journey along with the characters. The book is often emotional as the women fight their personal demons to grow closer to God. In reading this book, most women will be compelled to begin their own spiritual journey. I wasn’t prepared for that at first, but God definitely spoke to me through this book and began to move in my life. The novel also has romance and friendships with emotional honesty and depth. I highly recommend it, but if you pick it up, be open to a spiritual journey of your own. This book would also make an excellent group study.

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Quotes:

“We don’t have the power to make the sun rise, but we can choose to be awake when it happens” (p. 34).

“Sacred journeys need sensible shoes” (p. 56).

“Humility is always the starting place for those who want to draw near to God” (p. 63).

“It’s the Spirit who opens the eyes of the blind. Always at the right time” (p. 206).

“Our work is simply to cooperate with the Spirit by saying yes to God’s movement in our lives” (p. 290).

Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown

My review (courtesy of my mother-in-law): 4 of 5 stars

I passed the first book on to my mother-in-law once I had completed its review, and she liked it so much that she wanted to continue reading the series. Rather than make her wait, I passed the next two on to her. This review stems from her feedback.

She can’t wait to read book three to see what happens next. The women featured in these books continue to face personal struggles and set-backs. They gain spiritual insights along the way to help them overcome internal and external obstacles. They found a community because they were all searching for how to involve God more deeply in their lives. Each was lonely and hurt in a different way. The women learned to appreciate each other in their differences but were all respectful of each other’s journey. Each character had their own set of strengths and weaknesses – one step forward, two steps back moments – but continued to grow in Christ.

The pace of the book was steady, slowed a bit by the alternating stories behind each character. My mother-in-law compared it to braiding hair. She also took 5 pages of notes as she read. There is much to digest in these books, but the stories of the women make for a compelling read. She agreed that this series would make for an excellent women’s study: a combination book club and shared spiritual journey. Highly recommended.

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My review: (coming soon)

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to follow the series to its conclusion with the last in the series.

You can also pick up the new study guides so you and others can dig deeper into the spiritual journeys depicted in these novels.