Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley

It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer? When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? – from author’s website

I found the setting of this book intriguing. It is set during an Elvis impersonator festival and Elvis impersonators are being killed off. I also liked that we get peaks into the motivation of the killer and why she turned out the way she was. The author casts the reader’s suspicion on a few people of who the killer could be but doesn’t fully give it away until the climax. It makes the reader try to figure out who it is and question everyone. There are also complicated family dynamics in the book with Rachel and her father and her grandmothers are delightful although at times I found it different to keep track of which grandmother was which. Nevertheless, this is a great romantic suspense novel.

The Girls Guide to Conquering Life by Erica and Jonathan Catherman

Everything you need to know to be prepared, confident, and successful

As you grow up and make your mark on the world, you’re going to run into plenty of situations that require you to be confident and capable. But it’s hard to be either when you don’t know what you’re doing! If you want to have it all together, The Girls’ Guide to Conquering Life is your go-to resource. With great illustrations and step-by-step instructions for almost everything a young woman needs to know, this book shows you how to

· introduce yourself
· change a flat tire
· respectfully break up with a guy
· leave a tip
· apply for a job
· ask for a promotion
· behave during a traffic stop
· create a personal budget
· wash your face
· clear a clogged drain
· iron a shirt
· wear a scarf
· shoot a basketball
· and much more

The world needs women of character who don’t wait for others to do what needs to be done. With The Girls’ Guide to Conquering Life, you’ll be well on your way to impressing everyone around you with your skill, confidence, and grace under pressure. – from publisher’s website

I found this book a little ridiculous. I know it’s written for younger girls, probably pre-teens to teens, but some of the things that were included I thought were common sense. One of the things was about how to open the door for someone and one of the steps was to figure out which way the door opens. Another thing was about how to shake hands and is very detailed in how to do it which seemed a little excessive. It also talks a lot about fresh breath which might make people too self-conscious about how their breath smells. In one section, the author emphasizes not being creepy when making eye contact and says, “Comfortable eye contact is 4-5 seconds, pause by briefly looking away (to avoid staring), and then make eye contact again.” Another section she says, “Wrap a gift just right, and the receiver may even save the perfect paper as a memento of your thoughtfulness or decide to reuse such nice paper.” There were other sections where she talks about how to use a circular saw and I kept thinking that if someone was going to use one, they wouldn’t go to this book but instead to a manual or something else. It all seemed a bit excessive and dramatic.

More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? – from author’s website

I enjoyed this book. I loved the story of the siblings and how they chose to be a family and stuck together despite not being blood and being really young when they got together. I also think that a lot of people could relate to Evie in that even though most people don’t have two different color eyes, almost everyone has something about their body that they’re ashamed of. I would have liked to see how Logan reacted to the siblings not being blood but it was still good nonetheless. I also think Logan’s forgiveness of what Zach did to his family seemed a little fabricated and quick but nevertheless, I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to Zach’s story and seeing more interaction between Zach, Evie, and Seth.

Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom

Sex. In a world overwhelmingly obsessed with it, why is the church so silent about it? While our secular culture twists, perverts, cheapens, and idolizes sex, there are gaping holes in the church’s guidance of young people. The result is generations of sexually illiterate people drowning in the repercussions of overwhelming sin struggles.

Enough is enough, says Mo Isom. With raw vulnerability and a bold spirit, she shares her own sexual testimony, opening up the conversation about misguided rule-following, virginity, temptation, porn, promiscuity, false sex-pectations, sex in marriage, and more and calling readers back to God’s original design for sex–a way to worship and glorify him. This book is for the young person tangled up in an addiction to pornography, for the girlfriend feeling pressured to go further, for the “good girl” who followed the rules and saved herself for marriage and then was confused and disappointed, for the married couple who use sex as a bargaining tool, for every person who casually watches sex play out in TV and movies and wonders why they’re dissatisfied with the real thing, and for every confused or hurting person in-between.

Sex was God’s idea. It’s time we invited him back into the bedroom. – from author’s website

I wasn’t a big fan of this book. I found that it didn’t have much practical advice in it and none of the good points she did make were different from what I’ve heard before or they didn’t stick out enough for me to remember them. I also didn’t like how she would mention a part of her own story but then said to read her other book if I wanted more. At certain points it felt like she was simply advertising her other book. Her personal stories also tended to be very vague which I understand partly why she did it but it made it harder to relate to her story or figure out how exactly it fit into the point she was trying to make.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

Paul: The Apostle of Christ by Angela Hunt

Paul, Apostle of Christ is the story of two men. Luke, as a friend and physician, risks his life every time he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul, held captive in Nero’s bleakest prison cell. Before Paul’s execution, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church.

Paul has survived so much–floggings, shipwreck, starvation, stoning, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure–yet as he waits for his appointment with death, he is haunted by the shadows of his past. He wonders if he has been forgotten . . . and if he has the strength to finish well.

Two men struggle against a determined emperor and the frailties of the human spirit in order to bequeath the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. – from author’s website

Since I had seen the movie prior to reading this book and this is a novelization of the movie, I knew what was going to happen in the book so it wasn’t like anything was really new to me in the book. However, with the book version, you get a deeper view of the motivations behind the characters and what they’re thinking. There were more point-of-view characters than I usually like but it was consistent with the movie. Because it is based on the movie, it doesn’t have as much detail as most books that are written on their own have but it was still well written. I enjoyed seeing the friendship between Luke and Paul as it was not something I tend to think about. I also like that they included a question and answer section at the end of the book about which things were fact and fiction.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

Paul, Apostle of Christ movie

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is the story of two men. Luke, as a friend and physician, risks his life when he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul, who is held captive in Nero’s darkest, bleakest prison cell. But Nero is determined to rid Rome of Christians, and does not flinch from executing them in the grisliest ways possible. Before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church.

Bound in chains, Paul’s struggle is internal. He has survived so much—floggings, shipwreck, starvation, stoning, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure—yet as he waits for his appointment with death, he is haunted by the shadows of his past misdeeds. Alone in the dark, he wonders if he has been forgotten . . . and if he has the strength to finish well.

Two men struggle against a determined emperor and the frailties of the human spirit in order to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and spread their message to the world. – from movie’s website

When I heard about this movie, I was curious about how they were going to portray Paul’s life. I was pleased with how they did it. One of my favorite parts of the movie was how they incorporated actual passages from the Bible with lines spoken by the characters and they felt authentic coming from them in their contexts. Of course, there was creative license within the movie because no one knows the whole story and they had to make it into a story that worked for a film. Even with the creative liberties taken, it seemed like it could happen that way and it followed what is given to us in the Bible.

The movie also reminded me of things I don’t normally think of, such as Luke never actually meeting Christ on earth despite writing one of the Gospels and that he was a Greek not a Jew. Another reason I was looking forward to this movie was because the actor who played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel, was in it. This movie was not nearly as gory as the Passion of the Christ but the violence and gore were implied and we were shown enough to know what was going on.

Overall, I think it was a great movie and I would recommend it for people to watch.

“Film has been provided courtesy of Sony Entertainment Releasing Canada (Affirm Films) and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

Samson movie

Samson is based on the powerful, biblical epic of a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel. His supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire. After being betrayed by a wicked prince and a beautiful temptress, Samson is captured and blinded by his enemies. Samson calls upon his God once more for supernatural strength and turns imprisonment and blindness into final victory. – from film’s website

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see a screening of the whole movie yet, but I was given the opportunity to watch a montage of various scenes from the movie, ahead of its release.

From the scenes I watched, it appeared well done cinematically which is often a knock against Christian films. It would have been nice to see how scenes transitioned into one another to see if they worked well. Despite the story of Samson including a lot of fighting and killing, from the scenes I saw, it was fairly clean. In one of the scenes see a severed head with a little blood on it but never see the part of the head where it was severed. There are other scenes where you know killing is going on but you don’t see much of the blood or gore of it. With how Samson is portrayed, you can easily see how he let Delilah trick him. I would have liked to see how they ended the movie because of how it ends in the actual story or if they changed it. Overall from what I saw, it is fairly accurate to the biblical story, although like usual they added things that weren’t in the original, and would be okay as a family movie as long as you’re aware that there is a lot of fighting and killing.

“Film montage has been provided courtesy of Pure Flix and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

Book Review Hiatus

I’ve maintained this blog for a few years now and posting book reviews on a somewhat consistent basis. The last while, I’ve noticed I don’t enjoy reading as much as I used to.

Because of this and a couple of personal reasons, I will be taking a break from posting on here. I am still on a street team for an author so I may pop every once and a while to post a review about their books, but for the most part, I won’t be posting reviews.

I’ll probably still read a book now and then during my free time but I’ll be taking it slower and won’t be critiquing them.

I’m not sure how long this break will last. I’ll take it a month at a time and see how I feel. I expect to come back at some point, but it may be more sporadic and/or look different in regards to genres.

Thank you for those who have read my reviews and I wish you all the best.

The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden. – from author’s website

As with most of her books, I found Coble focuses on the character’s stories and wraps the plot around the characters. At points, the storyline was less believable and it was easy to forget that Shauna was ex-navy, although I can understand how grief changes a person. Maybe I wasn’t paying as much attention as I normally did, but when it was revealed who the antagonist was, I had completely forgotten who he was and where he had been introduced before in the book. I liked Zach’s character and how he wanted to make up for his guilt at the death of his best friend by looking out for Shauna and Alex. Overall, it was a decent book that pulled in several murders, although the motivation seemed a little far-fetched.

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano

Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail. – from author’s website

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was constantly laughing and loved the dialogue and the characters. There were many misunderstandings between the characters which were sweet and innocent and provided for a bunch of laughs. Harrison was adorable with his blunders with women and yet he was very sweet even though he claimed to not understand women. Gertrude was relatable with thinking she was ordinary and that she thought she had too much extra weight. I found the whole cast of characters to be a delight and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

This book was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.