Saturday, December 31, 2016

NetGalley Review: Threads of Silk

When I was a child, I thought my destiny was to live and die on the banks of the Xiangjiang River as my family had done for generations. I never imagined that my life would lead me to the Forbidden City and the court of China’s last Empress.

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China’s history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

My Review:

Once upon a time there was a young girl who wanted nothing more than to take care of her silk worms all day. Then her mother bound her feet. Driven by pain and boredom, she discovered she liked--and was good at-- something else. She was a natural embroiderer. She goes to school, makes a lot of money, and even becomes a very important embroiderer in the Palace.

But things are not all well. There are scenes of assault. There are sacrifices made. There are lies told, and lives lost. And through all that, a mother who never quite acknowledged her daughter as a person.

1. Asian stories always get a star, even if it's east Asian.
2. I liked this. I liked it almost as much as SnowFlower and the Secret Fan.
3. She named her daughter for a Tiger. 

1. Yaquin's mom! Really, now.
2. The FEELS. But that'll happen.

Overall, I need more books like this. SO MANY MORE BOOKS. I need ALL the books even remotely like this. Definitely something to consider as a gift, but maybe not for younger or easily triggered readers. Some pretty adult stuff happens to our little Yaquin.

Monday, December 26, 2016

NetGalley Review: A Mortal Song

Sora's life was full of magic--until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother's last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world's natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she's ever known.

My Review:

1. Sora, and Sora's Cahracter, and her dedication to help the people who lied to and betrayed her.
2. Chosen one finds out she's not so Chosen, but tries her best anyway.
3. ASIAN Representation, yo!

1. Chiyo: Come on. Like really, come on. She got on my nerves more than a few times.
2. Takeo: Clingy, much? 

Overall: I liked the plot, the worldbuilding, and the writing itself. But a lot of things (Chiyo and Takeo and almost everything they did or said) annoyed me. And the Dragonfly! The dragonfly wasn't annoying, but deserved better.

I can't say it's my favorite book on my shelf right now, but I will say I wouldn't hesitate to gift it to someone else. My sister, maybe.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ebook review: Parasol Protectorate #5 - Timeless

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a dampener on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle. 

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

My Review:


1. What does the vampire of Egypt want from her? --- Well, it was pretty clear from the moment we found she was on Life Support that she wants death. She wants to die. Immortality isn't all that and a bag of chips, as it turns out.


3. And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire? --- She's not. She's really not. She's really only popular in Egypt....for some reason. 

Furthermore, can we talk about the utter failure of the vampires trying to kidnap Prudence? I mean, first you take a boy. Then you take a girl who is NOT Prudence. And also, you've already met Prudence so could you not just smell her under the bed???

But Alexia, my heart when she thought Conall was dead. My poor baby. 

And I still have a crush on Genevieve, after everything.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ebook Review: Parasol Protectorate #4 - Heartless

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

My Review: 


But honestly, points off for predictability here. There was just a tad too much foresight here. Although Lord Akeldama comes to the rescue by making sure the Vampires, at least, will stop trying to kill her for a moment. 

Felicity remains annoying and petty. Biffy is too sad and I need to give him a hug. (Or a lover but we'll get to that.)

"Madam, I believe you are having the baby."
"Not now, I'm busy!" --- you might think this is a trope, but I do know people like this. I admire it in a woman. 

Furthermore, I have just one thing to say to Lyall and Alexia: Secrets get you nowhere.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ebook Review: Parasol Protectorate #3 - Blameless

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

BLAMELESS is the third book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

My Review:

The biggest thoughts: 1. CONALL IS SO STUPID. Even Lyall, in his Beta way, is trying to make him snap out of it and realize he's totally wrong. 2. Does anyone *not* have a crush on Genevieve?

Alexia loses two sources of supernatural protection, and people are still trying to kill her. So she goes to the people who want to get rid of people like her and her husband. Logic, much? I get that the big bad Vamps can't really get you there, but it's a little frying pan-fire situation, Alexia. Good thing she has Floote on her side. 

People are complaining about the ending, but in my opinion I don't think it warranted a fight. That wasn't the point. All the drama came from lack of communication and feelings of abandonment. How is fighting going to fix it at all?

Richy McRich-wolf still gets on my nerves, but I did admire his role in this book. I see you, Channing!
On that note, it's really hard to write about books in a series without spoiling anything. >< 


Monday, December 12, 2016

Ebook review: Parasol Protectorate #2: Changeless

Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

CHANGLESS is the second book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

My Review:

My Lord, it got better. I wasn't sure, because once love comes into things I start getting bored. But it got better. I do love that Vieve Lefoux stayed in the series. She's becoming quite the interesting character. There were others who managed the change from Finishing school to protectorate, but they're more of just...cameos, really. No more depth than they had in the first series.

Let's talk Scotland. For weeks my house will have a running joke of "Oh my, are you showing KNEES?". And frustrations!!! Conall's behavior, first running off and then AT THE END. And Ivy, please stop being so useless. Just really. 

ProTip: Don't read the ending whole at work or school. If you're anything like me, you will be in the WORST mood until you read something happier.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ebook review: Parasol Protectorate #1 - Soulless

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My Review:

So now we know there are people with too much soul who can become immortal, and people with no soul at all--and someone is trying to kill the latter. I'll be honest. Going straight from the finishing school series to this series had an adjustment period. I suggest only launching into this book when you've had ample time to say goodbye to the last series.

That said, Alexia (A woman who prefers Libraries to parties - my heart!), Ivy (the goofy best friend), Werewolf McWolferson (Who is a love interest?), and Lord Akeldama(You remember HIM from the powerpuff girls?) are a lovely mix of characters with enough intrigue and action to make you want to launch into the next book right away.

Overall, the writing skill and ease of reading remain elevated with Ms. Carriger, and I immediately grabbed the second book as soon as I finished with this one. (Protip: Just buy the boxset. you won't want to wait between books)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blogging for Books Christmas Gift review: Me - A compendium

Inventive, hilarious and joyously colorful, this fill-in journal was designed to help kids capture nearly everything that’s uniquely rad about them. With design-savvy, yet completely kid-friendly illustrations, they’re asked to draw or write about a bunch of interesting things — like what their hair looks like, what their band name would be, what they’d bring to outer space, and how they feel about lightning, lizards and pickles. There may or may not be a place for super-secret stuff inside the book jacket. Whether kids complete their entire compendium on a rainy day, or finish it over a year, it’ll become a treasure to look back on and smile. 

My Review:

I requested this book for Review because I have a certain 6 year old that is in need of a gift. I was worried it would be plain, and a little boring but the presentation of the artwork and prompts are fun, vibrant, simple, and give kids a voice.

My first diary was filled very quickly. Each page had one line on it, something like "I like collecting rocks" or "I have a sister" and really I feel bad for my mom for spending all that money on a fashion diary for a first grader who completely wasted it.

This journal is better. It's designed for kids. It can be used as a regift for their 18th birthday when they thought everyone forgot about their preferred superhero game. Just be sure to store it away instead of throwing those memories out.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tyndale review: 365 pocket morning prayers

Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you. 

My Review:

This is a case in which you should most definitely judge a book by it's soft leather cover. This book is cute, small, easy to find in a purse without looking at it, and provides a convenient help to those just starting to pray by offering guidelines and examples of prayers. 

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers, who I work with a lot. I'm never paid for my reviews, and I never pay them for the books. My reviews are always honest and unbiased (unless they're about Christmas, then I'm totally biased. Love Christmas)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Netgalley Review: Everybody loves Ramen

Everybody Loves Ramen is the perfect gift for a high school graduate, college student, single friend living on a tight budget, or anyone who remembers the days when a package of ramen was haute cuisine.

As a college student, Eric Hites learned just how far he could stretch a dollar by combining a package of ramen noodles with some odd ingredients out of his nearly bare kitchen cupboards and a little imagination. Living on a tight budget, Hites and his friends spent many nights of fun, laughter, and experimentation figuring out how they could concoct original, cheap yet tasty meals from the only food they could truly afford: ramen noodles.

My Review:

This book is made up of four things: Recipes, magazine-style games, stories from people who have strong ramen memories, and ramen fun facts.

I appreciate that the ramen recipes stay true to the spirit of ramen: they're all cheap and most of the ingredients can be stored without a refrigerator. But what really sets this book apart from other college recipe books is the crosswords and word searches that you can fill out while those noodles are boiling. There are also little areas where you can fill out your experience making each recipe,
I like Ramen, but I don't need a ramen diary. 
Overall, this was a cute and well thought out little recipe book. And for ten bucks, why not? It has a good two months of recipes in it. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coloring book review: All is bright

The perfect gift for the creatives and coloring-book lovers in your life! Includes bonus activities and kid-friendly coloring pages for the whole family!
This Christmas season, celebrate the birth of our Savior through beautiful design and devotion. Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright. For lovers of the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest coloring books, All Is Bright is the perfect way to transform the Advent and Christmas seasons for your whole family, re-centering the holidays on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Combining 31 days of rich content by the beloved and inspirational Nancy Guthrie with intricate designs that will reconnect you with the heart of Christ, this coloring book devotional journey reminds us all of what the season really calls us to: worship.

My Review:

I'm all about coloring books. I also happen to be ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS. Honestly, though, after I received a coloring book/devotional/journal, this was just....mundane. A sort of been there-done that kind of book. The pictures were fun to color and look nice on refrigerators. You can use pencil, pen, or marker on the pages but I haven't experimented with water colors yet.

A lovely gift for someone who likes god and Christmas and coloring.

But...I'm really frustrated because it's just not special. There is nothing defining about this that would make me say 'get this one, not that one' because it's exactly the same as any other coloring book.

For eleven dollars, it's fine. Good, even. Just don't go blowing your bank account on it. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Netgalley Review: Hot, Holy, and Humorous

Do you want to be a hottie in the bedroom without sacrificing holiness? How can you make the most of God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage?
Wrongful thinking and behaviors regarding sex permeate our culture. Christians need to reclaim sexuality and enjoy it in the way God intended.
God does not shy away from the subject of sex. The Bible shows a better way in every area—including the marital bedroom.
In Hot, Holy, and Humorous, author J. Parker gives candid advice for wives from a foundation of faith with a splash of humor.
This book can boost your sex savvy and improve your marital intimacy. And guess what? With God’s perfect design, you and your spouse can enjoy the most amazing sex!

My Review:

While there are references to love and lovemaking in the bible, there aren't exactly a lot of hot and steamy passages, or any detail about trivial marriage things, like how Abram and his wife decided (probably together, I don't see any woman making such a decision on her own) that he should sleep with someone else for the good of the future. 
There are many (perhaps too many) references to Star Trek in the first chapter of Hot, Holy and Humorous. While I appreciate the first chapter describing how to spark common romance in the relationship, the constant Star Trek references took away from it. As it so happens, I'm the less romantic one in our relationship and I don't like the implication that I'm an emotionless alien.
But it got better. Parker breaks down how to write a love letter you don't totally hate, and mentions that if it makes the great poets roll in their graves your mate will likely love it anyway. 
Between common obstacles that spoke directly to my heart like having totally off sleeping schedules, not knowing how to buy lingerie, being okay with more than the missionary position, and how to initiate sex, I felt like Parker was the best friend I never had. The whole book being centered on God was a bonus.
My favorite idea: having sex in a homemade fort. 
This book did have more to-the-point descriptions and diagrams involved, which I appreciated. I'd actually probably give this book to my daughter when she's of age. But if you blush easy, you might want to stay away.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NetGalley Review: The Christmas Tree

The classic New York Times–bestselling tale of friendship, generosity, and the magic and wonder of the Christmas spirit
On his annual search for Rockefeller Center’s next Christmas tree, the chief gardener spots an ideal candidate: a stately Norway spruce located on the grounds of a convent. There he meets Sister Anthony, a nun for whom the tree has special meaning. Orphaned and sent to the convent as a lonely young girl, Sister Anthony befriended the then-tiny spruce whom she lovingly named “Tree.” Over the following decades, as the tree grew, so did Sister Anthony’s appreciation for the beauty and wonder of nature.
She is reluctant to see her oldest and closest friend chopped down and sent away to New York City. But when a fierce blizzard threatens the old tree’s existence, Sister Anthony realizes it’s time to let the world enjoy Tree as she has for nearly her whole life.
Accompanied by charming illustrations and a new introduction by the author, The Christmas Tree is a heartwarming story of love and friendship, a modern holiday classic for all ages.

My Review:

This is the story of a very lonely little girl, her tree, and a city man who doesn't even know he loves Christmas.

I love the whole format and flow of this story so much, I can't even say my natural bias because I love Christmas is even affecting it...much.

The story itself starts out with the guy in charge of Christmas in New York sees the perfect tree. It's settled in a little plot of paradise, carefully created and maintained by a man who loved beauty and the nuns who came to live there. Sister Anthony didn't start out wanting to be a nun, but during the story you get to see into her past and find out why her relationship with Tree is so special. This is a great story to read a little bit at a time in the days counting down to Christmas, whether you are in New York or not.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

NetGalley Review: Meditation for Moms and Dads

Meditation Practice for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Parents and Caregivers boldly claims that a thriving meditation practice is not only possible, but an absolute must for the parent/householder. It isn't an empty claim. The author, Shana Smith, is doing it. Her journey is profound, funny, and fabulous. This entertaining combination of tips, real-parent stories, and poetry demonstrates that parents can squelch the mindset of ""I can't"" to ""I will,"" and celebrate the opportunity to embrace parenthood and worldly life itself as a vital spiritual practice. "

My Review:

This book starts out with a brief introduction to meditation and great tips to combat those swirling thoughts that jump on you now that you've slowed down enough to think them. 

The tips themselves are a little new age, but not bad. I don't think I'll be explaining meditation to my kid as "seeing fairies in the forest" and no, I don't have guilt over sitting her in front of Peg + Cat for a half hour of quiet. What really bugged me was the art. Every few pages there are stick figure drawings. I'm not sure if her kids made them, but I wasn't expecting art at all in this book. If anything, the art in the book should match the art on the cover. 

Between the wording and passages that don't quite fit with my religious beliefs and the stick figure drawings (seriously...why?) I'm going to say skip this book. There are plenty of other meditation sources in the world, my favorite of which is visual or guided meditation. Look it up on youtube.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Author Idols Book review: Brilliant Cut

What do you do when home is a person, not a place?
Where do you go when the person is gone?

Desperate for a new beginning, Sophie Cavall trades Manhattan for Brooklyn, where she meets someone new. He's a fun-loving man, hardworking and good with kids, but a run-in with her former flame revives a yearning Sophie thought was long buried.

Even if it meant facing death alone, Oliver Black did the only thing he could think of to keep the woman he loves safe and out of the limelight: break her heart. 
But this time, there's no way in hell Oliver is letting her go.

The real enemy is closing in. The last piece of the puzzle may prove to be the most dangerous of all. 

In the third and final installment to the Diamond in the Rough series, Elisa Marie Hopkins explores love, loss, forgiveness, and the perseverance of two characters facing extraordinary challenges. There might just be light at the end of the tunnel…

My Review:

My author idols rarely let me down, and Elisa is no exception. She took an interesting turn in this installment of DITR, which is always a risk but turned out well. My husband actually was more interested in this book when I talked to him than any other book (by that I mean he said more than 'hmm' when I went on a rant.) 

I was pretty intrigued while reading the last chapter of book 2 about how Elisa would pull off Hablinski, but she did rather well. I have the pleasure of being married to a conspiracy theorist so none of what came up was new. XD 

You know that moment when you're about 90% through the book and everything is awesome and you have this profound feeling of dread and anticipation because it's too perfect and something either has to go dreadfully wrong or become terribly anticlimactic? You get that feeling in this book.

There were also some lovely moments in the book that took me back to my own early days in my marriage, as well as the typical cheesy moments in Sophie's vocabulary. Overall, it's still early in Hopkins' career but she's off to a great start.

Monday, November 14, 2016

booklook bloggers review: With all due respect

With All Due Respect is a handbook for parents navigating the difficulties of the tween and teen years. Roesner and Hitchcock help parents identify what successful relationships look like and give easy-to-follow lessons in enforcing rules, communicating lovingly, resetting relationships, overcoming fears and exhaustion, and handling rebellion. Each day features a story every mom can relate to, down-to-earth questions to think about, and a prayer to launch an action plan. As a result, the reader gains new skills and perspective, greater strength, and an ability to live out faith daily as never before. With All Due Respect is for all parents seeking not only to connect more deeply with and positively impact their teens and tweens, but also to grow more deeply in faith through the process.

My Review:

I expected about the same that I read online about tweens: give them space, but lay down the law. Mold their behavior to 'respectable' standards. I was given a refreshing change starting with the first chapter that stated "look at yourself first."

There were certain times in this book that I wished it was a little less faith based. I understand the need for god, but one chapter in particular made me feel like I wasn't a 'good enough' Christian. It asked questions like 'do you solve problems with the bible', 'do you make your family go to church', are you a 'scriptural parent' or a 'devotional parent'? Had there been a few more options like 'do you tend to give things to God when you can't do it yourself' or 'do you talk to your child about God without pushing your religion on your kids.' would have let me check a few boxes.

Overall, I liked the book. I had to internally edit, as this book made it pretty clear that 'as a mother you spend more time with your kids'. When I work my 80 hours and my husband is the stay at home parent. It is a book I'll keep around in the event I need it when my 2 year old turns 12, but it's not one I'm running to get for any friends or Family.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

ebook review: Raising a child who Prays

In a society that is quickly abandoning its biblical standards, parents can create an effortless culture in their home that lends itself to the spiritual development of their child.

David Ireland, known for his dynamic teachings on prayer, provides a framework that helps parents elevate their prayer life, then parents can pass along the secrets to their little ones so they too may become spiritual giants over time. Parents will be equipped with practical exercises, sample prayers, and developmentally appropriate mentoring plans that will encourage their children to pray effectively now and into adulthood.

My Review:

I'll be honest. I want a child who prays, but I don't even really, truly know how to pray myself. So I got this book for some pointers, fully expecting to be told "welp, nothing doing if you don't have a solid relationship with the big man yourself."

Don't get me wrong, that's essentially what the first chapter says. But what struck me was that it didn't say "you have to be the end-all be-all perfect prayer-er." It said, instead, "practice. Take a tiny bit of time out of your day to say a prayer. Just start, and make sure you are doing it because you want Christ" Which essentially is what my husband told me when we first started discussing my conversion.

Ireland breaks it down into three steps: Purpose, Pattern, and Power. I love that the steps for leading your child to pray are the same steps for teaching yourself, and that example prayers are included for people (it can't be just me) who have no idea where to even start praying.

The effective teaching principles and engaging stories from the bible and more modern times kept me interested and reading on to the next chapter. I now have a framework for how to guide my daughter in a faith I just discovered, and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a little guidance as well.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tyndale bloggers review: Gratitude; a prayer and praise coloring journal

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal invites you to bring creative journaling and the calming act of coloring into your quiet time with God. This beautifully designed interactive prayer book from Tyndale’s Living Expressions collection helps guide your thoughts as you pray about concerns such as health, overcoming stress, personal relationships, and more. Gratitude gives you a way to celebrate and give thanks to God for the many blessings he provides. Filled with over 100 designs to color, plenty of space for journaling and sketching, and 40 needs-based prayers, Gratitude helps you express your devotion to God with your whole heart!

My Review:
So I dig most coloring books I come across, and I fall in love with just about every journal. So imagine my excitement when this baby showed up in the mail. The cover is so pretty and looks like someone really put a lot of thought and attention into it (and not so much like they were trying to make a buck on the coloring book craze going on lately) It's multitextured, has calm colors, and is hard enough to provide a proper base if you don't have a table and are coloring/journaling on, say, the bus. 

One irritation I usually come across in coloring books is hand cramps from drawing in so many tiny spaces. The illustrations in this book have a nice mix of small and open spaces to color in so your drawing time doesn't require a brace.

Some pages have straightforward prompts, but most of them have devotions or scriptures and leave the space for your own reflection or, if you're like me and like to write out your prayers, a prayer to match the devotion.

Know an adult who thinks millenials are silly? Do they think coloring is for children? Give them this book so they can color on the down-low and keep up their Adult image. Even if they start out only journaling, it's only a matter of time until they start saying "well you know, coloring can be a meditative state and bring you closer to God and calmer with everyone else." Then you can give them another coloring book and go halfsies on pencils. 


Saturday, November 5, 2016

NetGalley review: Minute Motivators for women

If it’s true that behind every good man is a great woman, then you’ve got an important job! Women are influencers. You influence your husbands, your children, your church community, your coworkers, your neighbors. That means you have a big responsibility. Take some time right now for yourself. One minute could make all the difference for you and for those around you.

About Stan Toler:
Stan Toler is senior pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and hosts the television program, "Leadership Today." He conducts seminars throughout the U.S. as the Model Church Instructor for INJOY Ministries, a leadership development institute for pastors. He has written over 30 books and is co-author of The Year Round Church Event Book.

My Review:
Light purple isn't used nearly enough in book covers, but it's fitting on this one. This book was way better than I expected it to be. In fact, the only reason I even picked it up was because I went 'Minute? Well it shouldn't take too long to read, then.'
I'm so glad I got to read this, though. Each passage is short, yes, but no word is wasted. I was highlighting a passage at least every few pages, and some motivators are so simple that you forget how effective they are because you just haven't done them lately.
Prime example: "Rest". It's explained to us that rest doesn't mean going to the beach or hanging out on facebook. It means taking a dang nap. And the last time I took a nap without feeling guilty was, honestly, elementary school. We forget little things like this that can make a huge difference in our lives.
It's notable to say there are more in this series, including minute motivators for teachers, leaders, teens, etc. This series would make a great gift for someone you care about. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

NetGalley Review: Katie Cox goes Viral

Everybody's watching Katie Cox...

Katie Cox is used to going unnoticed- by her mom, her dad, even her best friend. But when a video of her singing in her bedroom goes viral, she becomes a superstar overnight. As the views skyrocket and a recording contract beckons, the real world starts to feel very far away.

It isn't long before Katie starts riding high on her newfound fame. But the higher she flies, the farther there is to fall...

My Review:

Maybe I'm getting old, but most of this book had me going "You had ONE JOB KATIE." Seriously, most of this book was a normal teenager going through extraordinary circumstances. The rest of it was the same teenager making incredibly basic mistakes that make you want to shake her.

Maybe I should be saying "omg she's so real, so flawed. I love her." But I don't. You know who I love? Her sister Amanda, who does so much to try to make things easier for both her mom and her sister, and gets like Zero credit. Jaz was alright, but she seemed like a bit of a plot device, not so much a character in her own right.

Really, if you were a teenager who was suddenly offered a record contract while your life was falling apart and it felt like the only real thing in the world, you'd go for it. But if you're given ONE RULE about getting the contract and you go home and break that ONE RULE, what do you expect will happen? 

This book had me feeling meh. There are better ones, there are worse ones. If it's ever in flash sale and you can get it for free or for like 30 cents or something, go for it.