Monday, March 13, 2017

Secret Keeper

As a young woman, Laurel witnesses a shocking crime, even more shocking is that it is her mother who commits it.  She keeps what she seen to herself and escapes her home and becomes a well-known actress.  During a birthday party for her mother, Laurel begins investigating her mother's  past and soon discovers a dark secret her mother kept all these years. The story shifts to Dorothy's life as she lives through World War II as she meets Vivian and James by chance.  Their stories become one, and intertwine with Laurel's until the secret is revealed, one that would change how Laurel views her mother.

I had read another novel by Kate Morton The Forgotten Garden and i fell in love with it, but this one I had a hard time getting into.  It took me a little longer to read this one because i kept putting it down every so often after getting bored.  The concept I found to be interesting, but for some reason I couldn't get into it.  Morton has a beautiful way of writing and masterfully crafts her words into an exquisite story, this is way I fell in love with The Forgotten Garden.  This book had a different quality of mystery to it.  It was another story about heritage and learning who one is, but I think Morton might have taken too long to reveal the truth behind who Dorothy's past.

The order that everything happens is interesting as is that the story keeps switching from Dorothy to Laurel.  It gives us more insight into Laurel as she discovers more about her mother or rather tries to figure out her mother's past.  It is hard for the reader to be able to pinpoint how this story will end, and that might be one of the things that redeemed this book for me.  I know there are people who have enjoyed Morton's work and love this book, but i admit that it did not engage me as much as other books have done nor as much as Forgotten Garden did.

Will I recommend this novel to others? Yes, because I know there are people who would enjoy reading it.  As for a rating, I give it a 3.5 out of 5.  Pick it up and see what you think about it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A.D. 33

 A.D 33 by Ted Dekker tells the journey of a queen named Maviah.  She is known as the Queen of Outcasts or the Queen of the Desert. A neighboring kingdom as taken several children from her village including Maviah's son.  She embarks on a journey for find assistance in getting her son and the other children back, even if that means traveling to distant lands to meet with Yeshua.  She is horrified to discover that Yeshua is facing his own death.  She now must come to understand that this is God's as is the possibility of her own son's death.  Maviah finds herself struggling with her own desires and her teachings of the God word.

I have been looking at this book for a little while since it came out and wanted to read it since it's by one of my favorite authors.  I am slightly saddened to say that I did not like it as much as I have enjoyed his other novels.  I am not sure if i liked that Maviah was present for some key Biblical events.  I understand literary freedom and everything, but it still did not sit very well with me.  What i did like however was that the reader got a glimpse into Maviah's mind, we were a part of her thoughts and emotions. Part of Dekker's charm is that he is able to bring his readers right into the story with the characters.  He paints such a vivid picture that enables the reader to be able to visualize everything as if they were watching a movie.

I highly recommend this book, even if i wasn't a fan of it,  to anyone who enjoys thrillers, suspense, a little bit of sci-fy or fiction in general.  The beauty about Ted Dekker is he writes about Christianity without it feeling like he is throwing it into your face or anything.  He displays it through the character's faith and their struggle which are easily relatable.  My overall rating for this novel is a 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Ingredient Recipes



I am always looking for a new cookbook to add to my collection of books.  I am an avid chef and sometimes wonder what I could make with a few ingredients.  This was the perfect book for that task, many of these recipes are quick and easy and taste like I slaved over the stove all day. 

I would like to say this cookbook has a wide variety of recipes, but it seems like chicken and smoothies predominated the book.  The recipes were easy to follow and have ingredients that are easy to find in your local grocery store rather than having to find the in a specialty store.  The instructions are even 3 steps or less so you are not spending a lot of time cooking a great meal.

I admit some are recipes I have seen and cook prior to owning the book and nothing really stood out a completely unique, but I think this would be a great book for a beginner or a parent teaching kids to cook.  It helps get the understanding of cooking basics down.  The front even includes a chart showing what everything equals like 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon.  A lot of the recipes include already prepared items like cornbread mix when it is fairly simple to make a cornbread.

I would recommend this book for beginners and young chefs.  It has all the basics for growing the craft of cooking and baking.  As for a rating, I would give this a 3 out 5 stars  I expected a little more than chicken, and smoothies.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Grave

In the third installment of this series, Emma and company survived those who were sent to kill them and now are trying to survive the dead and their Queen.  Emma wants to free Nathan from his torment of living a half life, both dead and alive.  But she cannot accomplish this without coming face to face with the Queen herself.  But she cannot do this alone, which she is not.  Even with the hunters and her own army of dead, will she have enough power to defeat the dead Queen.



I had the honor of reading this book from the publish through Netgalley.  As I stated before this is a great way to find new books and help publishers and authors get some honest opinions. 
I had wanted to like this book so much, but it feel short for me.  I think part of the issue is that I had not read the previous books prior to trying to read this one. So I was a little lost on what was happening.  Sometimes you can jump into the middle of a series and still understand, but other times you need to read the series from the beginning and this is one of those series. That being said I will focus on writing because I had more questions regarding the story than I should have due to my own silliness of not reading the other books beforehand.

The way the story is broken up is through character perspective rather than chapters, that made it a little more difficult to follow along and understand what is happening to which character at what time.  It did not feel very fluid for me but that could also be because I didn't read the prior novels.  The book is classified as young adult and it definitely reads that way.  It didn't feel like there was much depth to the characters, but I get the feel that this is a story where the characters grew from the beginning so the characters I got where the deepest they could get for the story, like they hit their mark if that makes sense.

I do recommend the series and I will go back and read the series from the beginning.  Once I do that I will add to this review.  For now my rating is a 3 out 5 stars, and I imagine when I read the whole series that rating will increase.




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Search For Significance

It took me longer to read this book than normal for the fact that I kept getting mad at it and walking away.  Why did I get mad at it?  A lot of what it was talking about described me too perfectly and that was hard to face sometimes.  This books makes you come face to face with hard truths about yourself and find the acceptance needed to understand them.

Every one is looking for significance somewhere, but do we look for it in God or do we look elsewhere? That is the question this book addresses.  It use scripture to back up the things it says and has exercises to help you understand the teaching within the book.  At the end is even a little workbook to help you through the book and study it and the Bible.  I found it helpful to read a chapter or two a day and work on the workbook sections at the same time.

It was easy to follow and understand.  It was filled with over the top and excessively wordy chapters.  No matter where you are in your walk with God, this book is helpful in taking that first step in finding significance within Him rather than other places.

I  know I will keep coming back to this book over and over again and will keep learning something in it.  A friend of mine recommended this book to me and highly recommend it to others as well.  If you want to grow and come closer to understanding God's love for us then this is the book for you.   Even though it made me mad over and over again I give this a 5 out of 5 star rating.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Prayers For The Dead

Hidden deep within underground caves, caves that should have been closed off, archeology students find a dead body.  Detective McLean begins his investigation only to realize it is the body of a missing journalist.  The murder appears to be a part of a ritual, but of what kind.  McLean has the uncanny feeling that there is something more hidden within this murder than what it appears to be.  As he follows his instincts and with the help of a remarkable and unlikely allies, the detective begins to track down this killer.  One who believes he answers to a higher power, one who believes he is doing good rather than evil.




This is a book that I had the honor of receiving from the publisher through NetGallery (if you haven't checked out NetGallery do so it's pretty great).




The story starts out very strong with the murder which readers see happen when they read the prologue.  Then the strength of the novel continues until the end.  There are moments when it feels like the story wavers a little bit and has elements that feel like they don't make sense to the story, but that doesn't take away from the story itself.  The story itself is an easy read, there isn't much that goes deeper than what the author is telling us which is a good thing.  Oswald takes time to get readers familiar with his characters especially if they hadn't read one of the previous novels before.  I like that I was able to pick up this book and read it without prior knowledge of these characters.


The characters are strong and interesting, it is easy to relate to them and hope things work out the way you want them to as the reader (some stories it doesn't which makes for a great novel).  There is a nice blend of both science and paranormal throughout this book that really keeps you guessing and entertained. Some things were a little humorous that you don't see in other mystery books such as the use of poop as evidence, but it makes you wonder how often everyday cops have to analyze poop in order to solve a crime?  Gross right, but funny nonetheless.


I simply loved reading this book and hope to go back and read the previous novels and eagerly anticipate the next one.  I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good book to read regardless of genre preference.  I would give this a rating of 4 out of 5 simply because there were moments when it seemed like the story lulled.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Wrong Girl

Hannah is the companion to the earl's daughter, who can mysteriously start fires with her hands.  Often she feels trapped within her affliction of narcolepsy as well as within the confines of the home.  She longs for freedom and the ability to experience life.  What she didn't want was to be mistaken for the earl's daughter and kidnapped.  Those who kidnap her try to convince her all they want to do is help her and she is not their prisoner.  But what they don't know is that they had taken the wrong girl.  What will happen when they find out the girl they took is not who they thought she was?


This book was far from what I was expecting, I am not entirely sure of what exactly I was expecting with this novel.  It starts off weird with Hannah being forced to live in the attic with the earl's daughter, Violet.  Kidnappers mistake Hannah for Violet and Hannah decides to play along.  One of the kidnappers Jack can start fires as well and tries to convince Hannah all they want to do is help.  Enter a little Stockholm Syndrome as Hannah falls in love with Jack but is afraid because she's not who he thinks she is.


What is with young adult novels having the girls fall in love with their kidnappers especially ones with a temper?  Seriously what kind of image is that portraying to young women? This isn't the first book that I have read that has this happening.  Couldn't there be someone else they fall in love with?  That being said, the story itself is slow moving like molasses slow, but once you get about half way it gets a little better, but not much.  The end leaves readers with more questions than answers which I guess could leave the door open for the next novels (this is the first in a trilogy).  There were times I felt lost at what was happening and I couldn't find myself getting attached or caring too much about the characters.


I enjoyed it enough to be able to finish it, but I don't know if I can say I enjoyed it enough to read the next books in the series.  Another reviewer on Amazon by the name of Dani described the book as X-Men meets Jane Eyre, which I agree would be an amazing concept (someone write that please), but it doesn't execute that theory quite as well as it could have.  So, I don't think I would recommend this book to too many people unless I know they would enjoy a book like this, primarily young adults, as for a rating, I'm stuck at a solid 3 out 5 for this one.  It fell short of the mark for me.