Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters by Any Andrews

What is the butterfly effect? In essence it is the scientifically proven theory that one small event triggers another and so on until the end result is something far more significant or life changing.

Two examples of the butterfly effect and how they changed the lives of billions of people are presented in The Butterfly Effect. The first is Chamberlain leading the battle at Gettysburg. Andrews states that because that battle was won, the South didn’t win the war, the nation remained one nation which made it possible for the United States to be successful during WWII.

The second example is the story of a couple of men who hybridized corn and wheat to grow well in arid climates. The chain of events, actions and people surrounding this scenario eventually lead to saving billions of lives through the grain grown.

Yes, these historical stories are interesting and yes, I believe the actions of one individual can dramatically change the life of another. However, I do not believe in the power of self that this book promotes. Furthermore, I was waiting for the author to acknowledge the Source of these achievements. The recognition was not to be read which left me disappointed with the book. This ripple effect of events and situations involving humans is allowed by the grace of God and for the glory God, not the glory of one man. Andrews is correct, your life does matter. It matters because God created it to matter.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence 365 Day Devotional by Sarah Young

Picking a devotion book is difficult; there are so many to choose from. Devotionals are available to a wide range of audiences and yet cater to specific people. The unique angle of Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, is that it is written from the perspective of Jesus. Each day’s paragraph is like a direct word from Jesus to encourage the reader to experience His presence in his/her life.

The format is conducive to the author’s goal of leading people to a closer and real experience with Christ. Each paragraph spoken by Jesus to the reader is followed with a few scripture references that serve as a foundation for the day’s lesson. The reading is designed to take but a moment of the reader’s devotional time, leaving the majority of his/her quiet time to practicing the bit of truth for the day.

This approach makes the book appealing yet takes some getting used to. I was not sure I liked the idea of Young speaking on behalf of Jesus in an attempt to teach me how to dwell and live in His presence. As the reader works through the daily readings it becomes more natural besides, Young is not proclaiming to have received divine intervention while writing these devotions.

For a fresh approach to daily devotionals try Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

I received a complimentary copy of Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their BookSneeze.com book review blogger program.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible by Andy Croft & Mike Pilavachi

Storylines is exactly what it says it is—a map to understanding the Bible. I realize that seems obvious since that is the title of the book but, often the title and content do not match up as seamlessly as they do in this non-fiction title. Croft and Pilavachi make it clear as to what to expect out of their book and that is, in fact, what the reader gets from the text.
The intended audience for Storylines is teens and young adults and the authors present the material in a fresh, modern style that attracts this target audience. Writing in an informal manner draws the reader in and the current aspect of the writing makes the book relevant.
Reading the Bible can be overwhelming and discouraging for young people. The Bible is very long and can be difficult to apply to life. Storylines is the perfect resource for understanding how the Bible fits together as a whole while enjoying the various stories within the whole. Even for those who have read the Bible completely, Croft and Pilavachi provide insight that will expand any reader’s previous perceptions of the Bible.

Two of the best sections in Storylines are the appendixes. Appendix A, The Bible in 20 Pages, is an excellent, and much needed, addition to the book and could not be any better done. I was pleased with how well this section was written. Everything you would expect in such a summary was included and appropriately mentioned. The author recommendation to read this appendix prior to beginning the book was most beneficial and fitting.

Appendix B, The What, Why and How of the Bible, was a suitable conclusion for Storylines. Croft and Pilavachi leave the reader with practical methods for reading and studying the Bible. They complete the task and leave the reader satisfied. Readers are presented with an overview of the Bible, they learn how the Bible fits together as one story and then finish with straight forward techniques to make Bible reading enjoyable and meaningful.

I recommend Storylines and can say, without hesitation, it is the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Storylines is a good tool for young Christians, both young in age and young in their faith journey. Pastors, teachers and youth leaders would also find this book useful as they attempt to engage young Christians in Bible study. Reading how all parts of the Bible connect to each other and point us to Christ is something every person can gain from.

I received a complimentary copy of Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible from The B & B Media Group, Inc. in exchange for a written review.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow

Higher Hope is the second novel in the Tides of Truth Series by Robert Whitlow. This book picks up precisely where Deeper Water leaves off. The transition between books is more like beginning a new chapter than a new book. Tammy is in the middle of her summer clerking position at a law firm in Savannah. She has completed a case that presented many trials with her personal ethics and now has a slander case consuming her professional life. Tammy has negative feelings about this case from the beginning; something does not seem right but, the senior partner overseeing the case will not excuse her. Aside from work, the elderly lady Tammy lives with and cares for has health issues that leave Tammy wondering if she will soon be homeless.

Zach Mays continues to pursue a relationship beyond coworker and Tammy agrees to let him meet her parents. They travel to her home for the weekend in hopes of her parents’ approval to court. Throughout the weekend, Zach struggles to say and do the right thing and Tammy is caught in the middle trying to make everyone happy.

The innocent romance mainly takes place in the first portion of the book. Once the weekend visit is over, there is little development in their relationship. My one nitpick of Higher Hope is that the relationship did not develop enough after the climax of concluding the visit to Tammy’s home. That said, I enjoyed reading about a budding relationship written by a man. Men’s viewpoint on relationships differs from women’s and readers do not often have the chance to read a man’s take in a piece of fiction.

Whitlow, again, makes the reader comfortable and at ease reading a legal drama. The terminology does not overwhelm or leave the reader confused. The plot is much broader than the pleadings of the case. Tammy has drama all around her; it is not restricted to her professional life.

Higher Hope is a well-written sequel that keeps the reader reading. As with Deeper Water, Higher Hope concludes all too soon. Read Higher Hope for the inspiring ethics of Tammy Taylor and for the pure and honest relationship of Tammy and Zach. Enjoy the talent of Robert Whitlow as he makes the contradictory worlds of law and religion seem more parallel than originally thought.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

A visit with a dear friend, that’s what reading a Francine Rivers book feels like. For a few hundred pages Rivers shares from her heart and it touches yours. Her Mother’s Hope is her most recent emotion-packed novel set in the early 1900s. The sequel, Her Daughter's Dream, is set for release September 14 (which will provide excellent reading during my stay in the hospital, I just realized).

As much as I love reading Francine Rivers' book, I equally do not like writing reviews on them. Not because I don't recommend them or because I think they are mediocre, in fact, quite the opposite is true. I tell everyone I know to read her books and I think she is a superior writer. That's just it; Rivers books are so good that I feel like my meager attempt at reviewing them cheapens them. I have nothing to say that is going to make the book more attractive to a potential reader. Her books speak for themselves. Just read Her Mother's Hope and you'll see what I mean. You'll be hooked on Rivers and you'll be searching the library shelves for anything she's written.

Her Mother's Hope, it's just good. Enough said.

Back to my book---

J Renee

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

In his non-fiction title, The Vertical Self, Sayers explains how culture has moved us away from who God wants us to be and turned us towards a self-absorbed lifestyle. He calls this way of life “horizontal” and claims we need to be “vertical.” A horizontal self looks to those on the same level as him/her for self-image. A vertical self looks to a higher being, God, for identity. Sayers states his case for how far society has moved away from looking to God for our purpose and identity.

This book is not light reading and some sections are difficult to wade through. I felt like Sayers had numerous examples, stories and situations to defend his theory of society being horizontal to the point that it was doom and gloom. There was not enough teaching, encouraging and support for the vertical self theory to balance the book. Chapter after chapter explained what we are doing wrong and why it’s wrong but, there were few pages leading me to the better alternative or convincing me I need the better way. The majority of the book told me I need fixing rather than telling me how to fix myself.
The Vertical Self has a somewhat narrow target audience. First, the audience must be Christian otherwise it could be quite offensive. Second, the reader must open him/herself to the negative description of Christians today who live a horizontally. That said, The Vertical Self would be a good resource for youth and young adult leaders. It would, also, make a useful tool for new and young Christians as they discern how being a Christian looks and feels in everyday life.

Sayers is convicted and passionate about people needing to alter their thinking in order to live vertically. I commend Sayers for his enthusiasm and zeal regarding the subject and I believe his theories are worth consideration.

I received a complimentary copy of The Vertical Self from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their BookSneeze.com book review blogger program.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Reading Through the Bible

In my last post I shared that I'm reading a chronological Bible. I have given myself a timeline in order to help me reach my broad goal of reading through the Bible.

My particular Bible is narrated so that makes for additional reading. The Old Testemant section of my Bible is a whopping 1336 pages! My goal is to read the entire Old Testement by the time our baby comes, sometime around mid-September. I'm currently on page 432. That leaves 904 pages to read in approximately 100 days. I'm not sure it's realistic to expect myself to read nine pages every day until my baby arrives. And if my baby arrives early? I'm doomed. I realize that nine pages doesn't seem like much but, the pages are large, the print is small and, quite honestly, some of the reading is a little dry. On top of that, I'm the mother of a toddler, 26 weeks pregnant and I'm exhausted when I prop myself up with pillows to do my daily reading. Suddenly, nine pages might as well be 90.

I must say I'm thoroughly enjoying reading the Bible this way. I retain much more because it makes sense and all fits together. Obviously, when you tell a story in the order it took place it makes much more sense then when you mix up all the details and side plots. I'm beginning to wonder why all Bibles aren't written chronologically. Reading the Bible in order has been one aha moment after another. Picture me sitting in bed with a permanent lightbulb above my head that is constantly be clicked on.

If you've struggled with understanding the Old Testement I recommend you try reading it from a chronological Bible. It's like reading a book. I realize that sounds dumb; the Bible is a book. I guess what I mean is it reads more like a novel except it's history, exciting and worthwile history.

So, I'm reading towards page 1336. I'll let you know when I get there whether it's pre-baby or post-baby.

Back to my Bible--

J Renee

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Word or Someone Else's

You may have noticed that my reading, and as a result, my reviews seems to be slower going. The past 4-6 weeks I have struggled to get any reading done, which is very unusual. I typically can read two books in a six-week stretch but, I can't seem to get through one! There are a couple reasons for this:

The book I'm "reading" is not keeping my interest. In most cases once I start a book I squeeze a few pages of reading into every nook and cranny of my day. In other words, my housework doesn't get done because I can't hold a book and mop the floor at the same time. (Note: my lack of reading does not mean my house is clean.)

So ditch the boring book, you say. Well, if I could I would. I agreed to read and write a review of this book and I intend to keep my word. Eventually you will see a review of this book and chances are you will never know by the review that it took me three months to read the book. Yes, my review will be honest, don't worry.

I guess this situation could be classified as classic procrastination. Hah!

Another reason I can't seem to get to the last page is because I'm reading my Bible instead. Which, is a very good excuse, if you ask me. We all could spend a little more time in The Word and less time in someone else's word. The funny thing about this is, I've been reading the section of the Old Testement that is nothing but laws for the Isrealites.

For Christmas/birthday (they run together, they're only 10 days apart) my husband bought me The Narrative Bible in Chronological Order. I am thoroughly enjoying reading the Bible this way. I highly recommend chronological order Bibles. So, in this Bible they have compiled all the laws from the various OT books and made one section--100 pages total. It's a tough 100 pages to tackle but, I am now on the other side.

Isn't that hilarious, I found more time and it was easier for me to read through 100 pages of OT laws than read a new release! I laugh everytime I think of it.

Next post: My Bible reading goals.

Back to my book/Bible---

J Renee

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Deeper Water, by Robert Whitlow, is the first novel in the Tides of Truth Series. Whitlow fuses the legal world with the moral world effortlessly in this book about a law student who works as a summer clerk at a top law office in Savannah.

Tammy Taylor comes from a strict religious group in the mountains of Georgia. She is accustomed to the scrutiny of society regarding her beliefs but, working as a summer clerk presents challenges she is not used to facing alone. Tammy has to balance being professional while not compromising her ethics and upbringing. Along with cases that test her morals, the people she works for and live with also put her faith on trial. Two male coworkers vie for Tammy’s attention while the other female summer clerk seems bent on criticizing her principles. As Tammy works on her primary case she learns more about the firm which leads her to doubt her decision to work there. She must choose between confronting the truth and ignoring he upbringing.

When I learned Deeper Water is a legal drama, I feared I would be lost due to my lack of knowledge about lawyers and the justice system. Whitlow takes the reader into the legal world without bombarding the reader with jargon. Having personal experience with the legal system is not a prerequisite for reading Whitlow’s novels. I was pleasantly surprised to discover there is more to the plot than the cases and clients Tammy represents.

Whitlow’s characters are the purest I have encountered. I do not know of any person, fictional or otherwise, who is as pure in thought and action as Tammy Taylor and a few other characters in Deeper Water. These characters drastically contradict the lawyer stereotype, adding interest to the story. I am left wondering if Whitlow can create such characters because he himself engages in the same disciplined lifestyle.

Deeper Water is a good choice for those who have an interest in the law without the heavy-handedness of the terminology. Deeper Water is a good choice for those who can relate to Tammy’s moral persecution in a secular world. Deeper Water is a good example of how Christians can live in the world and not be of the world. I recommend adding the Tides of Truth Series to your reading list.

Thomas Nelson 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59554-132-1

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yes, I Read the Shack Again

I do not typically reread books. The Shack is an exception. I think I could read this book once a year. This is a book that challenges my views and perceptions. This book makes me evaluate myself so in that regard, I should read it once a year.

The Shack is a fiction book with a lot of truth in it. Several times I asked myself is this a true story? I give credit to Young for writing a book that seems real enough that the reader has to remind herself it is fiction.

MacKenzie Allen Philips is a husband and father who experiences childhood abuse and the kidnapping and murder of his daughter. These circumstances leave Mack feeling distant from God. Mack is certain God is unloving and has left him to fend for himself in life until he receives a note in the mail.

After much deliberation, Mack returns to the shack where his daughter was killed to meet God. During his time there Mack’s world transformed, quite literally, into what God intended it to be. Mack learns to know and love Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit in ways he never imagined possible.

Through Mack’s adventure at the shack, the reader is presented with truth and theology in a way never read before. I enjoyed the conversations that read so real and genuine. This book made a lasting impression on my views and ideas of who God, Jesus and Holy Spirit are. Our ability to understand and fathom who God is barely begins to define His being. Reading another person’s experience and understanding broadens my view. Young describes the scene, feelings and emotion well. Readers are present and at ease in the story.

This book is fiction and should be read as fiction. Young explains it best, “I am sitting in Eagle Creek, in a rented house, writing a story for my kids. I am not writing a story that I intend or expect will be published. Actually the thought never even entered my mind. I was going to write this thing as a gift…. I wanted my kids to enjoy a story and through the story to understand there own father better and the God that their father is so in love with.”

Read The Shack for the creative writing it is and let it challenge and broaden your view of God but, don’t let it serve as your only resource. The Bible is our foundation of truth that everything should be held up against. Maybe God has a “shack” experience in store for you or maybe you’ll be a changed person after reading Mack’s story.

This book is an absolute "must read" and maybe it will become a yearly occurance for you too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Do you know this children's book? The Snowy Day is a classic in the field of Children's Literature, it even won The Caldecott Medal. My three-year-old son enjoys reading this book and he'll even read it to you, if you prefer.

After many read throughs I got stuck on two pages towards the end of the book....it just isn't written well. And those of you that know me well are probably chuckling because you know that I'm not a grammar expert, by any stretch. But this one section is just not right and I can't figure out how a prominent author/illustrator go by with it. Maybe that's why he got by with it---he was so good that the publisher let this one slide, who knows. All I know is that everytime I read these two pages I get irked a little more. It's like I expect the words to change magically before I flip the page.

Here's the irritating text:
"He told his mother all about his adventures while she took off his wet socks. (turn page) And he thought and thought and thought about them."

Anyone else think those two sentences are not grammatically correct? Do you see why it rubs me wrong? Am I way off my rocker? You don't get it, do you?

The way it's worded, it sounds like he's thinking and thinking about his WET SOCKS!!!

Read the text again---do you see it now? Let me know what you think.....in the meantime read this classic to your children--they'll love it.

Back to my book---

J Renee

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Prayer Power: 30 Days to a Stronger Connection with God by Peter Lundell

Peter’s Lundell’s book Prayer Power, is a guide to creating and building a prayer life. With thirty concise chapters, this book is a natural fit for a month long study. The book is divided into five broader categories while each chapter covers a different prayer element.

Lundell begins by teaching readers the importance of yearning for God and a close relationship with Him through prayer. The next step leads to personal growth that will result in a more fulfilling prayer life. Prayer Power then covers using helps, internal and external. Several chapters are devoted to spiritual warfare and how that impacts prayer and our relationship with God. The concluding section pushes the reader to move out of his/her comfort zone to experience prayer in new ways.
There are lots of books on the power of prayer but Prayer Power speaks to a different audience. Most prayer books assume the reader already has a thriving prayer life. Other books tell readers the great things that can result from prayer life; this book develops the desire and ability to have a prayer life. Lundell presents practical steps and easy-to-apply suggestions. He doesn’t declare the “right” way to pray; he offers suggestions and options so the reader can see how a connection with God can fit into his/her life.

Two aspects of this book stand out to me: the prayer starter at the end of each chapter and the comprehensive presentation of the subject matter. First, the prayer starter that concludes each chapter nudges the reader to immediately put into practice the element of prayer discussed in the chapter. I can’t think of a better way to practically verify what was learned.
Second, Lundell is thorough and comprehensive in his teaching of prayer and connecting with God. Chapters are short, yet complete. Each section gives the reader enough to consider and learn without overwhelming. This style keeps the reader engaged rather than bogged down. Readers will feel like they can accomplish the goal of a better prayer life because Lundell takes one step at a time.
With confidence I recommend this book and say it is the best book I have read on prayer. For those who desire a close prayer walk but aren’t sure where or how to begin, let Prayer Power encourage you. For those who have a daily quiet time with God but need some rejuvenation, let Prayer Power refresh you. For those who participate in a prayer group, let Prayer Power broaden and enhance your experience. People with any and all types of prayer lives will benefit from Lundell’s book.

I received a complimentary copy of  Prayer Power in exchange for a review of the book.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Visit the Pulse

The Christian Pulse is the website I write reviews for but there is much more than book reviews on the site. There are articles for men and women, devotions, reviews and artist spotlight articles. There is something for everyone. I invite you to check out the site (www.thechristianpulse.com) and see what it has to offer. While you're there you can read reviews that aren't on my blog, just search for J Renee Archer. Enjoy your visit---

Back to my book---

J Renee

Monday, February 15, 2010

And The Book I'm Reading Is.....

The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood.
Consulting Editors: Joanne Stone, MD and Keith Eddleman, MD

A couple weeks ago I was reading the section on morning sickness. Each Sunday night my husband and I read together the description of the baby's development for the coming week and we read about the changes I can expect each week. Last night we read what to expect during week 10.

This book is a five-star pregnancy book. This is the one and only book I recommend to expecting mothers. When my husband and I found out our first baby was on the way he found the nearest bookstore while he was out trucking and scoped out the pregnancy books. He came home with The Pregnancy Bible and he had already read through most of it.

The best feature of this book is the week by week description both for mother and baby. A picture of the baby accompanies the weekly developement update and there are periodic picutres of the mothers changing body.

If you have any parents-to-be in your life this would be an excellent gift or at least, recommended reading for the couple.

By the way, our baby is expected to arrive mid-September.

Back to my book---

J Renee

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio by Diamond Rio with Tom Roland

Beautiful Mess is a beautifully written biography about the messy history of the band, Diamond Rio. Tom Roland assists the Country band in telling the details of their years together. A common theme throughout the book is unity and commitment within and to Diamond Rio. This is proven repeatedly through the course of their 20 years together and the band tributes their longevity to these two qualities.

The book begins with Diamond Rio in the middle of a crisis that jeopardizes their careers in 2005. The first chapters recount the days leading up to each member joining the group. While this is a key element in the story, it is a bit tedious. There is a lot of music industry lingo, places and people. With an overabundance of names and people with the same first name it was difficult, at best, to keep everyone straight in my mind. Thanks to Roland’s writing style, this setting-the-stage section is fast-paced. He leads the reader through quickly and keeps the reader focused on the plot.

Each band member has a chapter devoted to telling his personal story. This portion of Beautiful Mess is slower reading but transforms each man from a superstar into a real human. Later in the book an update is given of their current personal lives, which gives readers a chance to learn how the band members grew from the struggles they encountered professionally.

Beautiful Mess is a good choice, even if you do not like Country Music. Avid biography readers will enjoy Beautiful Mess because of the multiple storylines—the band’s story and the individual stories. People who know the music industry well will enjoy making connections with the people and places in Beautiful Mess. And, of course, Beautiful Mess is a good book for those who simply want the inside scoop on the life of celebrities.

I received a complimentary copy of Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their BookSneeze.com book review blogger program.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I love to anticipate things. Whether it's a day off, a vacation, going out to eat or even getting something in the mail. Half the fun is being able to anticipate. I want to know where I'm going to eat so my mouth can start anticipating my favorite menu selection. I like to anticipate; it keeps life fun. I also like surprises, which seems the opposite of anticipation, but there is great value in being pleasantly shocked occasionally. Both are great but in my daily life I have many more opportunities to anticipate than be surprised.

What is she talking about this for, you may be wondering. Well, I have something for you to anticipate and it's a surprise of sorts. In the next several days I will post the book that I am currently reading. Now I know that doesn't sound that exciting, but you just wait. You will be very interested to know that I'm reading this book and some of you will be surprised.

If you think you know what might be on my nightstand, leave a comment with your guess.

Until the big reveal, enjoy the anticipation!

Back to my book---

J Renee

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daisy Chain Review

Mary Demuth’s Daisy Chain, is the tender coming-of-age story of a hurting boy set in the late 70s. Jed is at the point in his adolescence when questions and confusion out number answers and clarity. When Daisy disappears, 14-year old Jed is left without his best friend. Not only is Daisy missing but, Jed blames himself. As Jed searches for answers regarding Daisy’s disappearance he discovers what it means to be a man and the value of trusted friends and family.

Daisy Chain was my first encounter with Demuth’s writing, and a pleasant one for sure. She creates dramatic descriptions that leave me in awe of her talent. Demuth takes mundane thoughts and conversations and adds the sparkle that makes for entertaining reading. This novel is full of peculiar tidbits. Here are a couple of my favorites: “…Jed scatted the air with a wave of his hand…an aerial Etch A Sketch.” and a few pages later Miss Emory says, “…you’re sticking to me like Elmer’s until I find out.”

Demuth does a tremendous job introducing us to Daisy and developing her personality even though Daisy soon becomes a secondary character. Throughout the book enough details and descriptions are given of Daisy to understand why Jed misses her greatly. I only wish Daisy was a prominent character for more of the book so the reader could enjoy her flamboyant and vibrant personality.

My only nitpick; Demuth left me hanging with the last word. The last page does not give up the answers to my questions, no matter how long I stare. Although, this is a sure way to persuade me to read the sequel. A Slow Burn, the second in the trilogy, was released in November of 2009.
A broad audience will enjoy Daisy Chain. Demuth’s writing style is such that young teens through older adults will enjoy the novel. For those who face struggles beyond their years, you will connect with Jed and his attempt to make peace with his world. For those who lost someone dear at a young age, you will understand Jed’s sorrow and guilt. For those who have ever questioned God, you will relate to Jed’s doubt and distrust.


Friday, January 22, 2010

A Few Extra Thoughts

I wanted to tell everyone that Susan May Warren is a great writer and a fun person. I had the opportunity to learn from her at the Quad-Cities'Christian Writers' Conference (http://www.qccwc.com/). Susan is has an upbeat personality that just let's everyone know that she is fun to be around. She has a nice website you can check out too: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/.

Here are a few books that have been recommended to me through my blog. These books are for all you suburbanites, especially.
  • Justice in the Burbs by Lisa & Will Samson
  • Death by Suburb by David Goetz
  • Never Mind the Joneses by Tim Stafford
If anyone else has a book they think everyone should read, let me know and I'll pass along the info. Who isn't looking for a good read? And if you're really passionate about a particular book maybe you'd be interested in being a guest reviewer on my blog. That'd be kind of fun!

Back to my book---

J Renee

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reclaiming Nick

Reclaiming Nick is the story of Nick Noble and his return to the family cattle ranch. His father’s death and the threat of losing the ranch cause Nick to return home after a 10-year absence. Once at home, Nick realizes he needs to claim his mistakes and make amends. Being back on the ranch, he has to face the people that he hurt and that hurt him. As relationships heal, family secrets are revealed.

A rugged, yet charming, cowboy is someone most girls have dreamt of falling in love with, making them excellent romance novel characters. Most readers have never met a cowboy or experienced life on a ranch which means we like to read and dream about that lifestyle. We enjoy reading about a way of life that differs from our own. These elements alone are enough to capture the reader.

The challenge of romance writing is to make realistic and attractive characters to fulfill the romance component, without leading the reader into temptation, while providing enough plot to give cause for romance. Warren creates characters and a storyline that upholds the alluring element of life in the West and the cowboy personality while maintaining proper boundaries. Reclaiming Nick is off the charts in terms of plot. Just when I thought I knew where the story was leading, the next chapter veered off on a new cow path. Susan May Warren’s storyline is far from predictable. There is so much going on with the developing characters and plot that the romance aspect is often second fiddle.

Warren adequately draws the reader into the western scene by using jargon unique to that way of life. Readers learn the terms and tasks of ranch life but it is not overdone. The flare of life on the range is present without coming across as hokey.

Reclaiming Nick is a great read for more than the romance lover. For those who dream of living out west, you will enjoy the ranch setting. For those who have made mistakes and live with the regrets, you will see yourself in Nick. For those who have returned home to make peace, you will understand Nick’s struggle. For those who enjoy an unpredictable story read Reclaiming Nick and relish the trail Susan May Warren leads you down.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury

Writing a review for a Karen Kingsbury book is difficult. What do you say about a book written by, arguably, the most popular Christian fiction writer. Claiming that title can only be done by writing superb novels. If Kingsbury’s books were predictable, mediocre and far-fetched she would not have the loyal following she does. An author like Kingsbury does not rely on accolades and good reviews to sell books; her name on the cover cinches the sale. So I ask, what do you write in a Karen Kingsbury book review?

For all the readers who get their hands on a Kingsbury book the day it comes out, Shades of Blue will not disappoint. You will stay up far too late reading this tale, just as you have while reading others she has penned. For the rest of the world who may not be acquainted with this author and her books, I will tell you about her most recent release and you will then know what to expect from all Kingsbury’s books.

Shades of Blue is another riveting, emotion filled novel. Brad Cutler is weeks away from marrying the perfect girl. He reaches an impasse , of sorts, when he senses God telling him he can’t get married until he makes amends with his past. Laura, his fiancĂ©e, is unsettled about Brad’s need to resolve his past because his first love is involved. Meanwhile, Emma, the high school sweetheart, is trying to live a happy life and do what she can to shut out her pain. When Brad comes to town Emma and Brad must face each other and their past. With an approaching wedding on the line and the risk of making another big mistake Brad makes the difficult choice, he decides to follow God’s prompting and rely on God to do the rest.

Kingsbury creates characters that are natural, easy to relate to and easy to picture. At times, you may have to remind yourself that they are not real people. Her characters may as well be your best friends—you know enough about them and understand their personality that much by the end of the book. In Shades of Blue the character that stands out is Brad Cutler; not because he’s the main person but because he is a man of integrity. Brad strives to do God’s will even when it could cost him his marriage. It is refreshing to read about characters that uphold the way of Christ and build their lives and relationships on Him. Even though the book is fiction the characters still encourage the reader to be a better person.

Shades of Blue is a great read for more than the Kingsbury enthusiast. Read Shades of Blue for a powerful demonstration of love and forgiveness. Read Shades of Blue to realize the healing that can come from painful circumstances. Read Shades of Blue for an example of living in the ways of the Lord. May you be blessed and encouraged by reading Karen Kingsbury’s most recent novel.

Later today I'll post a review from my 2009 book list. I will occassionally post reviews from last year's reading list. If there is a particular book on the list you'd like to know more about leave a comment and I'll tell you what I know. If you live in my area I can even tell you where I got the book or loan it to you if it's part of my own library.

Back to my book---

J Renee

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm a little giddy

Yes, I'll admit, I can get pretty excited about the littlest things. My husband teases me because I'm a little girl at times. I had one of those moments just now when I got on my blog--- I had a comment!!! And there's more--- I have 2 followers!! How exciting! So thanks, to my aunt (who has added several titles to my reading list) and to a fellow MOPS mom for causing my moment of giddiness. Thanks also to Rhonda for tellling me to stop being a chicken. A giddy chicken.....what a sight!

Back to my book----

J Renee

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome To My Blog

When you visit my blog you will read about the books I stay up way to late reading. I'll tell you what I think about the books I read and you can tell me your thoughts as well. Over the next several months you'll get a clear understanding of what I like to read and hopefully you'll find some titles to add to your "must read" list.

Enjoy your time here---leave me a comment---come back often---happy reading!

J Renee