Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Attracted to Fire

Summary: Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

My Take: This author knows how to marry action, romance and mystery. This story has all these elements and none of them suffer. 

Ash and Meghan give us a window into the world of the disciplined and dedicated agents who protect our most important politicians and their families. What they go through helps turn those stone-faced guardians into people we can admire and appreciate more because the author showed us a glimpse into their world (even if it is with her characters).

I loved the journey the characters take through this story. Nearly every single one of them evolves somehow from the beginning of the book to when the last page is turned. I think that's true to life. We continue to grow, learn, and become more of who God intended us to be. 

This was a tense, roller coaster ride of a book. It was a lot of fun to read and I hope you'll add it to your list. I want to thank Tyndale publishers for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Highland Sanctuary

Summary: A Sanctuary of Secrets...

Gavin MacKenzie, a chieftain heir who is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh, discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and
comely lass, who captures Gavin’s heart in spite of harboring a deadly past that could destroy her future.

The villagers happen to be keeping an intriguing secret as well. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.

My Take:

What's not to love about a romance novel with a great romantic hero and an intelligent female lead set in Scotland? I can't think of much. lol I'm a sucker for historical romances set in Scotland and this one has a lot of unique qualities.

Gavin and his brother are renovating the castle of another laird. They are doing everything from making it more sound from weather damage to more secure from any kind of threat. I don't think I've read about anyone doing that sort of thing in any of my books before.

Serena has epilepsy. I had read about how horribly people with this disease were treated until it was understood. It's always more impactful to have someone's story to relate to. I also never thought of people who were strange or different being allowed to gather near a castle and allowed to live in relative peace there. It did allow you to meet a lot of wonderful characters and see first hand what cruelty and intolerance can be like as well as acceptance.

Thought-provoking, touching, and romantic. :o)

I also want to apologize for being gone for a while. My oldest son just got married. He and his new wife came and visited us a week ago, then we traveled to the wedding. I was sick as a dog the whole time (and feeling suddenly old with my child getting married), but it was good to see him so happy. If I hadn't been feeling so poorly I would have posted before I left, but I was having a hard time getting everything done. I have a lot to catch up on. Can you picture a mountain of email? lol

Has God Spoken

Using the memorable acronym MAPS, radio host and Bible scholar Hank Hanegraaff masterfully reveals four proofs that confirm the divine origin of the Bible:
M represents the strength of the manuscript itself as many actual fragments have been located
A stands for the archaeological proofs that have been uncovered
P is for the prophecy that has accurately predicted events
S represents the scriptural synergy found in the unity, consistency, and harmony of the sixty-six books
These clearly presented proofs provide powerful indicators that confirm the trustworthiness and divine nature of Scripture, that God has indeed spoken, and that the Bible is the reliable repository of His words.

My Take:

I admit that I've always been a research and logic-driven person so I love the books that show evidence proving why our faith has stood the test of time. I don't need it -- but it is nice. :o)

This book manages to straddle sometimes being a bit over my head and sometimes feeling a little repetitive. I also wasn't sure I liked the acronyms or alliteration the author liked to use. It made me feel a little like it was a VBS or children's Sunday School lesson instead of a book clearly intended for adults. At times I wished a little less time was spent explaining (in great detail) the false claims and theories of those who don't believe in the Bible. I would let them write their own book for that.

In the end, I really liked the section on the archaeological finds the best. I loved how some skeptical scientists have become Christians just by what has been unearthed that supports the Biblical accounts. Those kinds of stories made the book for me.

This is a great book to have on hand for those questioning the trustworthiness of the Bible because it goes into a lot of different areas. It would be a great book for church libraries as well. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Heart Revealed

Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston as a battered woman, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known?
Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold readers in its grip until the very last page.

My Take: I'm a huge fan of Julie Lessman and pre-ordered this book months ago. In some ways I thought this was one of her best novels so far.

Emma and Sean's story is one of the sweetest and most heart-wrenching love stories I've read in a long while. I think the fact that they were such good friends for so long made the pull between them that much stronger. It was a palpable element in the story. I just wish we had been able to spend more time with them.

There is a lot more than their story in this book. Charity and Mitch have issues, the newlyweds Luke and Katie are already facing their own problems, and then you have the rambunctious foster child Gabe thrown in the mix. I can't wait to read what happens next -- to all of them. :o)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9-11

Our country is going through one of the most difficult times it has faced in recent history. There have been severe weather problems causing devastation throughout the country. Our economy has gone from bad to worse and many Americans have to face the future without knowing where their next paycheck will come from.  Our politicians argue over whose fault it is and refuse to work together to come up with a plan to fix things. We all know more of the same isn't going to work.

In the midst of all this bickering we are faced with the reminder of one of the most devastating blows our country ever had - and also the incredible heroism and unity that followed afterwards. I think most people could tell you exactly what they were doing that day -- how they felt and how they changed in the aftermath.

Politics didn't matter. Left or right they all gathered and prayed and vowed to stop this from ever happening again - no matter what it took. We felt safe before 9-11 -- we were united in our grief, our commitment to rebuild, and our desire to stop terrorism afterwards. Suddenly what the people in the Middle East went through didn't seem so far away. We could relate much more to the way Israel and the other nations must feel. Those oppressed by terrorism had our sympathy and support.

Who would have thought that ten years later the first responders to 9-11 would have trouble getting health care, federal dollars are being spent to build a huge mosque but a lawsuit has been filed to stop a piece of the wreckage that melted in the shape of a cross from being added as a tribute and no prayers are allowed at the ceremony because that might be considered offensive.

I wish we could get back to that atmosphere of unity and lack of politics right after 9-11. What really matters are the people who lost their lives that day, the people who protected others at the risk of the own lives, and those that are continuing to protect the lives of Americans and our allies at home and overseas. We live in the best and most free country in the world. I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud of our first responders, and I'm incredibly proud of our troops. I pray nothing like 9-11 ever happens again but I hope we never forget what we learned about America and our enemies that day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Veiled Rose

Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

My Take: Okay, I'll admit it. I didn't like Prince Lionheart when I read Heartless, the first book in this series. I thought he was selfish and a coward. I only knew that he lied about who he was and felt that he used Princess Una in a horrible way. I grew to think of him just as Leo in this book and I loved him. I guess that shows you how important knowing a person's back story can be. lol I think I liked this book overall even better than the first. Maybe it's the series effect (growing to love the characters and setting more over each book) but I was glued to the pages of this book.

I think a lot of it had to do with Rose Red. I loved her character and the author did a masterful job of keeping up the suspense of who and what she really was. Rose herself didn't know - and this aura of mystery and very real danger made you want to keep flipping pages until you knew what was going to happen to her.

I also was impressed with the ... complexity of the relationships explored. It isn't as simple as boy meets girl, boy chases girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl again, and then boy and girl live happily every after. This was filled with lots of intertwined and complicated relationships that (although this is a fantasy novel) mirrored the way real people might interact with one another. Nothing is as simple as all black or all white.

This story still has some allegorical or symbolic elements, but it isn't as pronounced as in the first book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would suggest it to anyone who likes to read this genre. I want to thank Bethany House for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Musings

For those of you who didn't know, I homeschool. I decided to look into homeschooling when we had to move before my oldest could officially graduate from Kindergarten in one state, but they wouldn't promote him in the next. He could already read well and do simple math and I worried that making him do Kindergarten over again would make him one of those bored troublemakers I saw when I volunteered at the school.

I hadn't heard of homeschooling, but one of the ladies at my church suggested that we look into it as an alternative. I did tons of research, prayed, and then went to my first homeschool convention. That was an experience! I wandered around looking like a deer about to be hit by a semi most of the time. That was the final piece it took to convince me, though. I wasn't going to be alone. There were a lot of people doing this, and a lot of support available.

We moved a lot the first few years and homeschooling fit our lifestyle very well. We didn't have to worry about changing requirements, curriculum standards, schedules or teachers. We were able to set our own and make sure it worked for our family. The more we homeschooled, the more benefits we saw. No missed work for illness, more hands on work, more field trips, higher test scores ... When we finally settled down we didn't see any reason to stop.

So that's where we are today. One of mine is already graduated. He earned a full ride scholarship in engineering. He's getting married later this month. My other son is in high school, very active in sports, loves to cook, hates algebra, and started school this week.

I look at where I am and then back and have a warm and fuzzy feeling for the red tape that stopped my oldest from graduating from Kindergarten. :o) 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice. Visit her blog for the rules and to link up your blog.

Mine comes from the book Veiled Rose which I just started reading.

"A boy climbed one path and a girl, some distance off, descended another, each hoping to meet again and neither certain whether or not to expect such a meeting."

I think it sounds sad and yet romantic. :o)