Monthly Archives: January 2015

Review of “Walk to Beautiful”

_225_350_Book.1362.cover

Image courtesy of BookLook Bloggers

Truthfully, when I had the opportunity to read Jimmy Wayne’s Walk to Beautiful, I had no idea who Jimmy Wayne was. It wasn’t until I read the praise printed in the front of the book that I realized Jimmy Wayne was a country music singer-songwriter, and the co-writer and singer of one of my favorite contemporary country Christmas songs, Paper Angels

Wayne’s Walk to Beautiful is an easy read, despite being nearly 400 pages, yet the subject matter it addresses is far from easy or light.

Born into a home where his father was absentee and his mother was mentally unstable, Jimmy Wayne and his sister were repeatedly exposed to abuse, pornography, prostitution, violence, and other depraved behavior. Growing up in and out of foster care and group homes, Wayne suffered the consequences of his mother’s continual string of boyfriends and husbands.

But everything changed when sixteen year old Wayne met Russell and Bea Costner. Welcomed into their home, Wayne became a part of their family, genuinely loved and cared for.

Walk to Beautiful chronicles the life of one man who, by the grace of God, overcame incredible odds, and became a country music star, with chart-topping songs like Stay Gone,  an advocate for foster children, and spokesperson of CASA.

Inspirational and insightful, Walk to Beautiful will break your heart for the thousands of children around the world who are victims of abuse, who are unwanted, who are forgotten (James 1:27). When you read Walk to Beautiful, expect to be shaken– it will leave you changed.  Reader discretion recommended: Walk to Beautiful is for mature audiences, due to the discussion of abuse and violence.

A poignant reminder that all things work together for good, for His purpose (Romans 8:28), I would give Walk to Beautiful an “A”.

You can find out more about Jimmy Wayne and his charity, Project Meet Me Halfway, here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

2 Comments

Filed under blog

What types of books do you read?

Leave a comment

Filed under blog

Review of “Murder at the Mikado”

MikadoCoverFit

Image courtesy of Julianna Deering.

Earlier this week I began a series of reviews on Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mysteries. If you want to read my reviews on the previous books in the series, you can find them here and here.

I must admit, finishing Murder at the Mikado meant that I had read more fiction in January 2015 then I did in all of 2014. However, I have enjoyed it. It is nice sometimes to have a good novel to read– even better if it is a thrilling murder mystery!

Honestly, I was a bit underwhelmed with the first book of the series, but I felt very hopeful after the second book. I can say now that Murder at the Mikado, the third, and latest, book in the series, did not disappoint! Full of suspense, intrigue, and secrets, it held my attention until the very end, and lacked the things that irritated me in the earlier books of the series.

Set in late 1932, Drew and Madeline’s wedding preparations are under way, and they have settled into a happy life in Farthering St. John with Aunt Ruth. But when a secret from Drew’s past is revealed, it threatens to destroy their future. Can Drew, Madeline, and Nick unravel the mystery before all is lost? And will Drew and Madeline make it to the altar?

 A little tidbit for lovers of the 1961 Disney film, The Parent Trap: remember when Miss Inch punishes the girls for their unladylike behavior? She quotes Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Mikado, saying, “let the punishment fit the crime”. As you can guess, the title of that opera is the source of part of the title of Deering’s book. Look for several Gilbert and Sullivan operas to be referenced in Murder at the Mikado.

My favorite of the Drew Farthering Mysteries so far, Murder at the Mikado is a thrilling mystery sure to please, and I would highly recommend it! I would give Murder at the Mikado an “A”.

You can find out more about Julianna Deering and her mysteries here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of the book free from the publisher through Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

Leave a comment

Filed under blog

Review of “Death by the Book”

BookCoverSm

Image courtesy of Julianna Deering

Earlier this week I began a series of reviews on Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mysteries, beginning with the first book, Rules of Murder.

The second book in the series, Death by the Book, is set in the Summer of 1932. While Drew Farthering, amateur detective, is taking over the estate after the murders of his mother and step-father, and trying to convince his American girlfriend to marry him, a series of murders that all seem to be connected back to him and his small circle of friends sets him off on a brand new adventure.

Can he decipher the mysterious clues left behind by the killer? Is the killer trying to tear him and Madeline apart? Dark secrets begin to appear as Drew untangles the web of mysterious murders, and he wonders if anyone is really as they seem.

Deering’s Death by the Book is a fascinating mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat, flipping pages until the mystery is solved. I did find, though, that the pacing of Death by the Book was a bit off, as I had guessed the killer only two-thirds into the book.

I was disappointed in the treatment of Madeline’s American aunt, Ruth Jansen, throughout Death by the Book. She is viewed as  a needless, and somewhat senile, bother, someone to be won over with dolls and cats, rather than as a loving and concerned chaperone.

Overall, Death by the Book was a wonderful read, and while somewhat lacking, was nonetheless enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good, clean mystery, and I would give Death by the Book a “B”.

You can learn more about Julianna Deering and her mysteries here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of the book free from the publisher through Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

1 Comment

Filed under blog

Review of “Rules of Murder”

RulesCoverCrop

Photo courtesy of Julianna Deering 

 

I’ve mentioned before that I love a good mystery novel. I love any well-crafted story, but if you give me a well-crafted murder mystery? Well, you just found the way to my heart!

Over the next week I will be posting reviews of Julianna Deering’s Drew Farthering Mysteries. So far there are three books, beginning with Rules of Murder.

Set in 1930s England, Deering has created a world where Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie. Lovers of good mystery novels, Drew Farthering and his friend Nick team up to solve a string of murders. Drew, however, is distracted by his new friend from America, Madeline. Can they solve the mystery before the murderer gets away?

I must admit that I felt that Rules of Murder was a bit of a knock-off, pulling elements and inspiration from multiple sources, but not coming across as a coherent whole.

My greatest concern was that the theology presented in the book was a bit shaky. While referencing the Westminster Shorter Catechism and Scripture, which I appreciated, Rules of Murder also seemed to infer that we must come to Jesus of our own volition, and that Jesus simply waits for us, which is not what Scripture teaches (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13).

I was also disappointed in the way that Deering handled the romantic interaction between Drew and Madeline in Rules of Murder. It felt forced, consuming too much of the story. Why couldn’t Drew and Madeline just be friends? At times I felt like I was reading a romance novel, rather than a mystery. I also found Madeline to be a weak female character, especially as she is the primary female character throughout the book, as well as the main character’s love interest.

Overall, I found Rules of Murder to be both disappointing and enjoyable. With a tighter focus, I believe Deering could quite possibly become a great mystery writer, something that the Christian market desperately needs. I would give Rules of Murder a “C”.

2 Comments

Filed under blog

How do you read?

Leave a comment

Filed under blog

Five Reasons Why Every Reader Needs a Goodreads Account

It doesn’t take long for nearly all my conversations to somehow find their way to the subject of books. And when a friend recently started a thread on Facebook asking about favorite apps (because don’t we all have smartphones these days?) I was quick to recommend my all-time favorite app: Goodreads.

I believe there are five reasons why every reader should have a Goodreads account:

  1. No more bookmarks! If you are anything like me, you have trouble keeping up with bookmarks. And I hate leaving books lying around open. No more worries! Since we always have our smartphone at hand, now keeping up with where you are at in your book is easy– just update your page number. And it will even tell you what percentage of the book you have read.
  2. Never forget a book. Next time a friend recommends a book, or a new book catches your eye, don’t forget it! With the Goodreads app, you can add a book to your “to read” shelf.
  3. Set reading goals. How many books do you want to read this year? With the Goodreads app, you can set a reading goal, and track your progress.
  4. Connect with other readers. Recommend books to others by rating books and writing reviews, and find new books by reading reviews and ratings by other readers. You can discuss books, or even interact with other reader in groups.
  5. Giveaways. One of the perks of Goodreads is the opportunity to participate in giveaways of a wide variety of books! And who doesn’t love the opportunity to win new books?

4 Comments

Filed under blog