The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

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Book Review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

This book review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland has been more difficult to write than normal. Unexpectedly, this book has found a tender spot in my heart. I have a few connections with this book. In the story, Ailsa receives a heart transplant, and her friend Seb receives a corneal transplant. My mother-in-law received a corneal transplant many years ago, so I related to Seb and his circumstance. Then, about 4 ½ years ago my father-in-law received a heart transplant.

In the months previous to his heart transplant, my father-in-law spent weeks in the hospital. He had an LVAD pump put in, and we went through this strange act of asking for a miracle. I say strange because you want your prayers answered. You want the miracle. But in order for that to happen, someone else must lose his life. Another family must lose a loved one so that you may keep yours.

Then, in the middle of the night we received the phone call. There was a heart that was a match, and he was going into surgery. What a blessing. My father-in-law did really well with his new heart. He got a second chance at life, and he took it. We are so grateful to his donor and the donor’s family. It’s hard because you know that their sacrifice brings your joy.

Sadly, my father-in-law passed away about ten months ago. The wound is still fresh. It wasn’t his heart, though. His heart stood strong until the end. Unfortunately, he had pulmonary fibrosis, and died from complications with that. We will never forget that because of his donor we had 3.5 more years with him. Thank you to those who become donors, who give others a chance at life.  

Blurb:

“Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But…

Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point.

She knows she needs to find her father.

She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.

She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it…”

 

My Book Review:

Ailsa has a good voice in this story. She’s authentic. Although she’s not perfect, she is learning. I like how you see her growth as the book progresses. It would be difficult to transition from thinking you could die at any time to thinking of a whole life ahead of you. Sometimes she is strong and other times she isn’t, but isn’t that how life really goes? I don’t know anyone who is strong all.the.time. If they act that way then you know they’re hiding something.

Seb seems like a good guy. I like his voice as well, and think he is great for Ailsa at this time of her life. Does he have some growing up to do as well? Yes, but that’s one of the things I like about him. I like that he’s down-to-earth and normal even though his circumstances might not be.

I think the character development in the book is done very well. The writing style is easy to read and understand, flows well, and sucks you into life in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now I want to go there! Butland does a great job writing dialogue. It doesn’t seem forced or awkward; it feels real and is quite engaging. You do need to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of the chapters because once in awhile it sends you back in time, and I got confused a few times.

The moral of the story is that life is hard, but good. Even boring life can be hard sometimes. You don’t let that pull you down, though.  Stand up, take charge, change what you need to, and go forward with a positive attitude. Look for the good in life, be grateful for what you have, and try to make life better for others. Be kind and forgiving. Love, and allow others to love you. Believe in yourself. Take advantage of the time you have with your loved ones because you never know what tomorrow brings.

I enjoyed this story, and loved getting sucked into Ailsa’s world. It’s fun that she’s a blogger too! I finished reading the book this morning, and I admit that it has touched me in a way that I didn’t expect. I miss my father-in-law, but am so grateful for his heart donor and the 3.5 more years of family parties, camping trips, birthday parties, Christmases, and family dinners we were able to have. Hug your loved ones today!

 

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s quite a bit of profanity, including many “f” words. There isn’t any violence, but there are a few “intimacy” scenes and discussions about it.”

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered it from 4 because of all the profanity.)

3.5 Star Rating

If you would like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2qJmEAN

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

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Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright  the nightingale by kristin hannah
 
 
This book review is dedicated to my father-in-law Robert. Love ya, Bob!!!
 
 

Book Review of Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

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Book Review of Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Have you ever found it hard to get along with your siblings? As teenagers, my sister and I didn’t get along well. You could say that we were pretty much opposites in regards to the friends we had, the clothes we wore, and what our sides of the room looked like. We had a few difficult years. Now, however, I consider her one of my best friends. It’s great how time and circumstances have brought us closer together. In this book you get to know three adult siblings; they don’t have their relationships with each other quite figured out yet. I hope you enjoy my book review of Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde.

Blurb:

“When Murray Blaire invites his three children home to his New Hampshire farm for a long weekend, he of course wants everyone to get along. But Ruth, George, and Lizzie all have their own private agenda—as does Murray, who wants eldest daughter Ruth to convince Lizzie to break up with her much older boyfriend. But Murray’s plans, along with those of his children, are derailed when impulsive Lizzie turns up with a damaged family cookbook and the possibility of criminal charges.

This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a more idyllic time, a time when they had a mother and another brother and a public reputation to maintain. And the handwritten notes within its pages provide tantalizing clues to their mother, whose choices have long been a mystery to her children.

As the Blaire siblings piece together their mother’s story, they come to understand not just what they’ve lost, but the one path they may have to find their way back to one another.”

 

My Book Review:

I am the oldest of six children. Growing up with all of us was a blast, but there were also a few times that we didn’t get along. When that happened, my mom would quote scripture to us. Haha! Smart mom move, right? Matthew 5: 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” We’d all groan when she said it, but she’d get her point across.

Now that we are all adults, we get along great. We have a lot of fun together. Consequently, it made me sad when I saw how difficult the relationship between Ruth, George, and Lizzie was. I like how each character in this book has his or her own identity. You learn about their histories, their current stories, and their fears and misgivings. Past mistakes come to light, along with the good things they do as well. I felt like a part of their family because it was written so well.

The writing style of this book just sucks you in. It’s easy to read, flows well, and draws you into the lives of this family. I liked Murray a lot. My favorite part of his was when he took out his hearing aid so he couldn’t hear his children arguing. Haha! The sibling I most related to was probably Ruth. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. We’re both oldest children, so maybe that’s why. I liked George’s easy going style, and Lizzie’s heart.

This family has dealt with a lot, and even though you feel bad for them, it definitely makes them more authentic. I loved how the title came into the story; I thought it fit perfectly. Even though the book only took place over a weekend, I enjoyed seeing the growth of each of the characters. The one thing I thought that was a little strange was that a man would keep a cookbook for that long, or borrow it at all. I did like how Lillian utilized the cookbook, and how it became sentimental to the family.

This was a fast, entertaining read for me. I enjoyed delving into the lives of these family members. The complexity of their lives and their personalities made it a fun book to get lost in. It deals with many everyday situations, and some a little more far-fetched. The writing draws you in as a member of the family, and I liked it a lot. I do wish that there had been less profanity.  

 

 Content Rating RRating: R (There’s lots of profanity, including many “f” words. There are also discussions about “intimacy” and a few scenes. Abortion is discussed, and there is some domestic violence.) 

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered it from 4 because of the profanity.)

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2qDKwFk

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner  A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
 
 

Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

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Book Review of Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

My father-in-law passed away less than a year ago, so the pain is fresh. We’re still celebrating “firsts” without him. First Christmas. Birthday. Easter. Our children will still occasionally cry over his passing. It’s tough, and even though we do have a belief in an afterlife, we miss him immensely. In Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams, Libby and her father mourn the loss of her grandfather. Libby’s experiences may be singular to her, but her feelings of loss and mourning are universal.

Blurb:

“Libby Lochewood is twelve years old when her grampa dies of a heart attack. She is devastated at losing her best friend. Now that he’s passed on, it’s just her and her father, and he is so overcome by grief that he can barely get out of bed in the morning.

The night of the funeral, though, Grampa’s spirit appears in Libby’s bedroom and tells her three important things; first, that she isn’t alone or forgotten—‘The dead ain’t never that far from the living,” he says; second, that she has ‘the Sight’—the ability to see family members who have died; and three, that there is something special just for her in the lake. Something that could help her and her father—if she can find it.

Libby begins her search along with her friends Bobby and Martha, but it’s hard to know if they’ve found what Grampa wanted her to find since they don’t really know what it is. As Libby’s father falls deeper and deeper into depression, Libby and Grampa work together to help her father believe that their loved ones who have died are much closer than he thinks. But it will take all of Libby’s courage and her gift of Sight to convince her father that the dead are never truly gone.

Set in the lush, natural landscape of southern Florida, Never That Far celebrates friendship, hope, and the power of family love.”

 My Book Review:

The pain that accompanies the loss of a loved one is universal; not many are immune. On the other hand, each individual person deals with grief in his or her own way. Some may find comfort in visiting the gravesite while others may find solace in journaling or sleeping. Libby and her father have very different experiences after her grandfather’s passing. Libby handles it ok because her grampa’s spirit visits her each night and comforts her. He visits his son too, but his son doesn’t see because of a lack of belief. Although I haven’t ever seen the spirits of my loved ones who have passed, I believe that there is an afterlife. I believe that I will see them again. If nothing else, that thought gives me comfort.

There were many things that I liked about this book. I liked Libby’s voice. She’s stubborn, determined, and caring. Although she may not listen to her father, she knows what needs to be done. She sets out to do it, no matter what. Bobby is such a good friend. I liked his character a lot. Martha represents what many people may feel: that Libby is crazy.

Libby’s father has lost a lot. He’s lost his parents and his wife. The grief overcomes him. He represents many who are consumed by the pain of losing someone. Libby gets frustrated because he isn’t always present for her, but he tries. The preacher character confused me. I’m not sure why her character was included in the story.

I do believe in an afterlife, but the whole quest that Grampa sends Libby on was a bit strange. It takes a long time to get there; it isn’t easy. The quest and the conclusion of the quest are both vague. I kind of understood the conclusion of the quest, but I’m not sure why it had to be that way. It seems that the same thing could have been found in a different way.

Overall, I liked this book. I think it has some good messages: the importance of family, faith, friendship, and moving forward. It will be especially helpful to someone grieving the loss of a loved one. This book is geared toward YA, and I think it is fine for that age group. It does have a religious overtone, so YA with a religious background will benefit the most. Also, it might be a good idea for parents to discuss the book and some of the issues with their children. 

 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” and no violence. There are some more difficult themes discussed.) 

Age Recommendation: YA (12-18yrs old) and up 

Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2qlParu

Never That Far Blog Tour Image

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

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Dead is the New Black (Book #1) by Christine D. Rice

Dead is the New Black by Christine D. Rice

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Recently I received an email from a reader asking me to review Dead is the New Black (Book #1) by Christine D. Rice. She said that her daughter had started this series and she hadn’t had time to preview it first. Of course! I’m always up for new books, and as I hadn’t ever heard of this book, I was excited to read it. It’s a mystery, which I enjoy but don’t read as often, so that got me even more excited. Unfortunately, it took me a little while to find. My local library didn’t carry it, so thankfully amazon did!

Blurb:

 (Taken from amazon.com) “Fashion designer Jeremy St. James is everything Laura Carnegie could want in a man. He’s gorgeous, rich, and talented. The fact that everyone says he’s completely unavailable doesn’t stop her from dreaming of being in her boss’s arms. As a matter of fact, she suspects his inaccessibility is part of his charm.

When Jeremy’s backer is found dead in his office and he’s accused of the crime, he trusts Laura, and only Laura, with the keys to the design room. She wants him back and out of jail, and in the process of exposing a counterfeiting ring and finding the real killer, she uncovers the secretive man under the temperamental artist; a man who is most definitely available, and a man who might not be that inaccessible after all.

If you love Project Runway, or enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, try Dead Is the New Black.”

 

My Book Review:

Let me start out by saying that I know NOTHING about fashion. Seriously. I’m always deciding I like a trend about a year after it’s popular. I couldn’t tell you any of the famous brands or designers, and the terminology is way over my head. The same goes with sewing. I can sew a straight line (a flannel blanket or pajama pants), but patterns? They scare me!

Needless to say, I’m glad I read this on my Kindle because I had to look up the definitions of a bunch of fashion terminology. There are colors I had no idea existed, and acronyms I still don’t know the meaning of. If you are into the fashion scene or sewing then I think you’ll fit right in and enjoy that part of the story.

I found the writing style witty and smart. Laura is mostly a likable character. She drove me crazy some of the time because of her affection for her off-limits boss and her tendency to throw caution to the wind. She also didn’t have a very high self confidence. I liked the relationship she had with her sister Ruby and her mother. I definitely don’t live in a big city like Manhattan, so a lot of that style of living is new to me. It’s so fun to learn about how people live.

As far as the story line goes, it seemed plausible. Like I said, I’m not involved with the fashion scene at all, so someone who is may have a different opinion. I didn’t think the mystery was all that great. I kept waiting for Laura to prove herself as an amateur detective, and I just didn’t think she really did that. She figured it out in the end, but her sleuthing skills never shone bright.  

There were a lot of characters, and I had a difficult time remembering who was who, and what job they did. I did learn a lot about how patterns are made, the steps in producing an article of clothing, and all the different skills needed.

Right from the start I figured out that the cover art does not match the style of this book. The cover art is cartoon-ish and makes it seem like a YA book. Yep, not true. It’s very deceptive, I think. Overall, this book was ok for me. If you’re into fashion, though, I think you’ll enjoy it more.

 

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s quite a bit of profanity, including several “f” words and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Although there’s not an “intimacy” scene, it is discussed quite a bit. There is a homosexual character and that is also discussed. A murder takes place, although that part is not too graphic or descriptive. There is also some other violence with a beating.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating
To purchase this book click here: https://amzn.to/2IxECgh
 

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry
 
 

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby Burle

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Book Review of The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

Has there ever been a time in your life where things have not turned out as planned? You lose your job or your car breaks down on the side of the freeway? A loved one passes away unexpectedly or an illness affects a loved one? I think it happens to everyone at one time or another, and this book speaks to those moments. The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle is Shadow Mountain’s first women’s fiction novel, and I am thankful to them for allowing me to read and review it!

Blurb:

“Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, Is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.”

 

My Book Review:

I think everyone understands hard times. Sometimes we bring the hard things upon us by our actions, and other times they just happen. How we deal with and handle those hard times is what defines us. Can we pick ourselves up, learn from the experience, and move forward? Or do we find ourselves stuck, looking backward? Do we push everyone away and try to handle it ourselves, or do we embrace the love and help of others? This book speaks to these moments.

Nina is a good main character. She has a good voice. She’s easy to relate to, realistic, and likable. When you read about her family it makes you feel like your family is not only normal, but great! I may have thought, “Oh, and I thought my family was bad at that…” a few times. Nina’s family definitely has issues. Each of them is complex and well developed.

Jack and Cassie also seem authentic and realistic. I loved Lola. She is Nina’s sister, an artist, and has dealt with some difficult things in her life. Nina’s brother Ray is a bit harder to relate to. There were times I really liked him and times that I didn’t like him at all. He has a good heart, but has a difficult time making good choices. I liked how these characters were not perfect. They each struggled with something, but were trying to overcome. The one character that I thought was a bit unrealistic was Oliver. I don’t know about that whole side story. It was a bit over-the-top for me; kind of silly and unbelievable.

What I liked about this story was that it shows how difficult life can be. We make choices every day, and sometimes those choices stick with us forever. We’re not perfect and we don’t always handle things correctly. Sometimes we make a bigger mess of things when we try to fix them. We allow our pride to get in the way of progress and growth. But that doesn’t mean that we’re stuck there forever. We can change, learn, grow, and move forward in our lives. I think it also speaks to acceptance and forgiveness of others.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Some books you finish and never think of again. That was not the case for me with this book. The characters and their stories stuck with me; I kept thinking about them and hoping for them long after I finished. I like the title and will probably use it to describe my last year; we definitely had a lemonade year last year. Here’s to hoping this year will be better!

 

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There’s no profanity and no violence. There isn’t any “intimacy,” except kissing, but the actual word is said a couple of times. And it is discussed. Some of the themes are geared more toward adults.) 

Age Recommendation: 18+

Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

To purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2H7WRJR

The Lemonade Year Blog Tour Image

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

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Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite  The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright
 
 

Chatterbox Poems by Sandy Day

Chatterbox Poems by Sandy Day

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Book Review of Chatterbox Poems by Sandy Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a full book of poetry! I thoroughly enjoy reading poetry occasionally, but I usually just read one or two at a time. Chatterbox Poems by Sandy Day has poems ranging from angry to lighthearted. Her emotions stand out as raw and real.

Blurb:

Chatterbox is a collection of one hundred and ten poems, tiny tellings written during a year of marriage disintegration. The poems explore a world of bewildering emotions ranging from sadness and terror to anger and enlightenment. The reader enters a world conjured from fairytales and dolls, the Garden of Eden, and the Wizard of Oz; the pages abound with moths and mice, dogs and horses, roosters and crows, oranges and apples, the moon and the sun.

A creative force, exploding after decades of silence, inspires the Chatterbox poems. The poet struggles to attend to a Muse that wakes her each morning, urging her to capture a spirit igniting inside her. The poet observes her own life as it falls apart and fragments then miraculously turns her outward toward others.

Whose heart hasn’t cracked open and broken? Do any of us withstand the pain and transcend to the other side? Can we leave betrayal and abandonment behind without bitterness and resentment? Can we move on and find our true soaring spirits? Chatterbox answers these questions with a resounding, yes!”

 

My Book Review:

When I was in high school, I was on the staff of the school magazine. Each year we printed a book of poetry, short stories, and artwork all written and created by students. I loved it! It may have helped that I had a few of my poems included in the book. Needless to say, I enjoy reading (and writing) poetry. So when Sandy Day asked me if I’d review her poetry book, I had to say yes.

There are 110 poems, and each of them is filled with emotion. I love how she uses imagery and descriptive words. Sandy writes in a way that allows her emotions to be fully felt by the reader. I tended to be drawn to the more lighthearted poems, but there are poems that cover a full range of emotions.

I thought it was clever how she wrote about things we all know about like Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel. The Hansel and Gretel poems were a bit on the angrier side, but the ideas were clever. Creamsicle was one of my favorites:

I know this is the delicious part, like the sweet ice-cream

‘neath the tangy orange dip, before the stick (wooden and

Stale, which my teeth need to chew).

So I savour this part—

like a hot summer day, soaking up sun, my toes in the cool

lake, stickiness on my fingers and tongue.

Just saying, love’s awesome!  

If you’re in a poetry state of mind, this book is for you, especially if you feel angry or raw emotion.

 

Content Rating RRating: R (There are a bunch of poems with “f” words in them, and others have adult themes.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

To purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2GowePA

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

A Light In the Attic by Shel Silverstein Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss  The Light in Summer by Mary McNear
 
 

Winning the Battle for the Night by Faith Blatchford

Winning the Battle for the Night by Faith Blatchford

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Book Review of Winning the Battle for the Night by Faith Blatchford

I have never been a good sleeper. Never. Even when I was little I remember lying awake for hours every night. Usually I just can’t shut my brain off, and oftentimes anxiety exacerbates it. When I heard about Winning the Battle for the Night by Faith Blatchford, I got really excited. I truly hoped that I would be able to find answers to help me sleep better.

Blurb (from Netgalley):

In our fast-paced world, we see sleep as “wasted time,” or else we lie awake as anxiety, fear, or distractions run through our minds. That was never God’s intent for the night. Without realizing it, we’ve handed this sacred time over to the enemy.

With warmth, compassion, and keen biblical insight, counselor and speaker Faith Blatchford reveals that it’s during this precious time that God imparts everything necessary for us to be equipped for the day. Without peaceful sleep at night, we are robbed mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually of the resources we need. 

God created the night and the dark–and he called it good. He dwells in it. The dark does not belong to the devil, so don’t let the enemy steal it from you. Here are the tools you need to take back your night, to encounter the God of rest, and to sleep peacefully the whole night through.

Includes a chapter on how to help your children overcome nightmares and fear of the dark.
 

My Book Review:

As I stated above, I do not sleep well. I want to, but I’m not good at it. Going to sleep is the hardest part. My brain does not shut off. And anxiety usually exacerbates the problem. I saw this book on Netgalley and got super excited. Finally I might be able to get answers!

Then I got into the book and found a different story. This book does talk a little bit about insomnia and not sleeping well, but mostly it discusses dreaming. Faith Blatchford didn’t dream when she was growing up, and it bothered her. She spent a long time talking to other people and trying to figure out why she didn’t dream. I don’t really care about that, as much, but it was interesting.

Ms. Blatchford delves into scriptures and discusses dreams told in scripture from God to prophets. This is a very Christian book. It’s all about prayer, scripture, and making yourself worthy to receive dreams. If you want to dream, and receive inspiration for your life through dreams, then this book is for you. She’s done her research, that’s for sure!

Start by giving yourself enough time to sleep, setting a routine, and turning off the screens. Don’t have caffeine before bed, and get rid of all negative thoughts and energy, are a few of the first steps to dreaming. Keep paper and pen by your bed so you can record your dreams, and then ask God the meaning of your dreams.

Although this book did not really answer the questions I had, I did find it interesting. Will I put forth the effort to learn how to dream? No, probably not right now, but maybe I will in the future. I am Christian and am familiar with most of the scripture stories in Winning the Battle for the Night. I am also familiar with a lot of the Christian advice.

One thing I disliked was that she tended to tell as truth things that we don’t know for sure. And she almost makes it seem like you’re not a good Christian if you’re not receiving inspiration from God in your dreams. In my opinion, I feel like receiving inspiration through dreams is a spiritual gift that not everyone has. However, if it’s something that you can learn, then this book will be a great resource to those who want to learn that skill.

 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” and no violence. It does go into some heavier topics like demons, but it’s all found in the scriptures.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

To purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2GdVmIB

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

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The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin  the seven habits of highly effective families by stephen r covey
 
 

The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

Book Review of The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

Have you ever lost someone? I’ve lost my grandparents and, more recently, my father-in-law. It’s tough! Each person grieves in his or her own way. What helps one person may not help the other person at all. And the timing is different for everyone. The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright delves into the difficult world of loss and suicide. Two very different characters handle the loss in their lives in their own ways, but they have one thing in common: the bridge.

Blurb:

“Katie Connelly has lived in San Francisco all her life. Her late father made his career on the Golden Gate Bridge, and the many stories of how he saved jumpers still haunt her. And now her job assignment is to write about the history of the bridge—a history that includes a secret journal about a promise ring and a love story that may be the answer to her unresolved sorrow.

Meanwhile, Dave Riley, a marketing executive in New York, has sorrows of his own. Grasping at straws after tragedy strikes his family, he decides to follow a daydream that has turned into an obsession: to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge on a motorcycle on the Fourth of July.

Does the bridge somehow mysteriously hold the answers both Katie and Dave are looking for? Or will they find something completely different when they get to the other side?” 

My Book Review:

I loved Camron Wright’s The Rent Collector. Therefore, when I had the chance to review his new book, The Other Side of the Bridge, I couldn’t resist! The story switches between Katie Connelly and Dave Riley. I thought that the character development was pretty good, overall. Katie lives in San Francisco and recently lost her father. She works at the university doing research. Dave lives outside of Manhattan. He works in marketing at a big company in New York. He is dealing with a tragic loss.

The writing switches between the two characters. I didn’t find it difficult to switch. Katie’s story is written in italics to help distinguish between the two of them. I also thought their voices were different enough. Of the two, Katie definitely stood out to me as more relatable and amiable. Dave isn’t quite as likable, and although his story is tragic, it is also harder to relate to. Katie’s grieving feels more “normal,” if you can say that, where Dave definitely takes it to the extreme.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt empathy for Dave, I really did. However, his extreme reaction compared to his feelings at the beginning of the book made it seem like a discord to me. Who am I to say though? I’ve never experienced what he did. The event that happened at the end, after he technically reached his destination (I’m trying to not give anything away here…), was a bit much for me. It felt over the top and out of place, in my opinion.

One of my favorite things in the book was learning about the Golden Gate Bridge, how it was built, and the people that built it. Patrick O’Riley’s story is so good, and I enjoyed reading through his journal with Katie. I loved learning about the Claddagh faith rings.

Womens_Silver_Claddagh_Ring

Aren’t they so pretty? According to http://www.celtic-weddingrings.com:

The Claddagh ring meaning is all about love, loyalty, and friendship. The two hands represent friendship, a heart symbolizes love and the crown on top is for loyalty. The ring can be worn on different fingers or hands, depending on status. 

Patrick’s words from the book describe his love for Anna:

With this crown, I give my loyalty. With these hands, I promise to serve. With this heart, I give you mine.

I think they are beautiful, and I love the meaning that they have. That part of the story was my favorite.

At first I felt that the book would be very predictable. Some of it was, but not in the way I originally thought. What I originally predicted was way off course, thankfully. However, I felt disappointed by the moment at which the characters cross paths. I had hoped for a little more, but I guess it fit for each of them. The ending felt a bit rushed, but I liked it.

The book as a whole felt a bit depressing, but it talks a lot about overcoming loss in your life. It also delves into suicide. Both of these topics need to be discussed, so why not allow people to learn through a good story? We all grieve differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to experience grief. I did like the lessons it taught about overcoming, moving on, and learning to live again—guilt free.

Overall, I liked The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I liked The Rent Collector, but it’s a good, thought provoking read.

 

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There’s no profanity and no “intimacy,” except for a brief kiss. I rated it higher because of the discussions about suicide.)

Age Recommendation: 14 years-old and up

Rated 3.5/5 stars

3.5 Star Rating

To purchase this book, click here: http://amzn.to/2FP2uir

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
 
 

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

Book Review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

Have you ever looked over at a family that looks as if they have it all together? Have you wondered what it is they’re doing that makes them so successful? Has there been a time in your own family where you have struggled to hold it together? Do you have a great family but you want to make it better? Then The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey is the book for you!

Blurb:

“With the same profound insight, simplicity, and practical wisdom that have already reached tens of millions of readers, Stephen R. Covey demonstrates how the principles he introduced in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People can be used to build the kind of strong, loving family that lasts for generations. As Covey says, ‘When you raise your children, you are also raising your grandchildren.

Covey explains that strong families don’t just happen, but need the combined energy, talent, desire, vision, and dedication of all their members. Sharing insightful, often poignant or humorous experiences from his own life and from the lives of other families, he imparts practical advice on solving common family dilemmas, such as finding quality time to spend together, dealing with family disputes, healing a broken relationship, and changing a negative family atmosphere.

He shows how families can learn to incorporate principles into their daily lives through activities, meetings, and games that involve all family members and help to create a spirit of understanding, support, and enthusiasm.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families is destined to become the preeminent work on the family, providing a new benchmark on a very important global topic.” 

My Book Review:

This book is very well written. Even though it’s self help, it’s easy to read and understand. It flows well, and has enough humor and anecdotes to make it an enjoyable read. Covey has included many examples written by people who have implemented the strategies in their own lives. I liked these examples a lot because they help show how the strategies work. They also show that the strategies put forth are practical, useful, and attainable.  This book discusses common sense solutions and talks about the importance of  self -improvement.
 
I really liked how at the end of each chapter there is a page titled, “Sharing this chapter with adults and teens.” There’s another on how to share the info. with children, which is so helpful. Also listed at the end of each chapter is an action step. It lists 3-4 things you may do with your family to implement the strategy discussed. 
 
By the time I finished reading this book, I had many pages marked and lots of quotes underlined. Here are a few of my favorites:
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.
 
My friend, love is a verb. Love–the feeling–is a fruit of love the verb. So love her. Sacrifice. Lister to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.
 
There is a difference between principles (or true north) and our behavior (or direction of travel).
 
The greatest thing you can do for your children is love your spouse.
 
Be patient with yourself. Even be patient with your own impatience.
I highly recommend this book. It’s full of examples, humor, and practical advice. I have a great family and family life, but I wanted to make it better. The information in this book helped to do that. I would recommend this book to any individual or family that wants to take a good thing and make it great.
 

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Great as a family read-aloud. I’d say 12 and up to read alone. This is especially good for parents to read.

4 Star Rating

You may purchase this book here: http://amzn.to/2FZuIGN

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel cheers to eternity by al and ben carraway  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
 

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This post was originally published on 4/16/09; updated on 3/15/18.

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Book Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I love inspirational stories, and this one does not disappoint! Wow. The strength and determination of these men inspires me to do better, work harder, and dream bigger. If they can do the impossible, so can I! I hope you enjoy my book review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. 

Blurb:

 
“Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times–the improbable, intimate account of nine working-class boys from the American West who at the 1936 Olympics showed the world what true grit really meant. Daniel James Brown’s stirring book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.
 
It was an unlikely quest from the start–a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who first had to master the harsh physical and psychological demands of collegiate rowing and then defeat the East Coast’s elite teams that had long dominated the sport. The emotional heart of the story lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but to find a real place for himself in the world. Plagued by personal demons, a devastating family history, and crushing poverty, Joe knows that a seat in the Washington freshman shell is his only option to remain in college.
 
The crew is slowly assembled by an enigmatic and determined coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat designer, but it is the boys’ commitment to one another that makes them a winning team. Finally gaining the Olympic berth they long sought, they face their biggest challenge–rowing against the German and Italian crews under Adolf Hitler’s gaze and before Leni Riefenstahl’s cameras at the “Nazi Olympics” in Berlin, 1936. Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals and their vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Daniel James Brown has created a portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest, all in this immensely satisfying book.”
 

My Book Review:

 
Wow! The 1936 Olympics have produced some of the best stories I have ever read! First was “Unbroken” about Louis Zampirini. He ran in the 1936 Olympics. That book was so good! Then there’s the story of Jessie Owens. I haven’t read a book about him, but I recently saw the movie “Race,” and Jessie’s story is fantastic too! And then there’s this book. Amazing. Seriously amazing. I loved it! The writing is very well done. It may be nonfiction, but it definitely reads like fiction. The descriptions are beautifully done, and the writing captivates you from the get-go.
 
Joe Rantz’ story is unbelievable! The circumstances he overcame in his life put him right up there with Louis Zampirini as one of the most inspirational people I’ve read about. Most people would give up and die rather than go through what he did. His so-called parents made me so angry. They are not fit to be called parents. The things they did to him were unconscionable. And yet he survived, and not only survived, but thrived. What an inspiration he is!!
 
The stories of the other men are also well told and captivating. I loved learning about George Pocock. He has such an interesting story. I never thought I’d enjoy learning about how to make a rowing boat, but he makes it seem so important and interesting. I enjoyed reading all the quotes by Pocock at the beginning of each chapter. This quote by Pocock really speaks to the difficulty of the sport:
 
“Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body.”
I also enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book. I liked that they weren’t all bunched together in the middle, but they were spread here and there throughout the book. One thing I loved was how all these stories showed how trials make people stronger. Usually we just want our lives to be easy, right? Well, look at how strong these men became because their lives were not easy. I think attitudes are a little different now, and that’s unsettling. There seems to be a trend of if it’s not easy I won’t do it. We need more determination and hard work like these men had. I loved this book! I loved the writing, the characters, the story; I loved all of it. Five star ratings are unusual for me, but this one deserves it; I highly recommend this book!
 

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG 13+ (There is some profanity, but not a lot. There isn’t any “intimacy.” There are, however, a few situations that border on domestic violence. They are difficult to read, and not appropriate for young readers.)

 

Recommendation: 14 years-old and up.

Rated 5/5 (I don’t give many of those!!)

5 Star Book Review Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the nightingale by kristin hannah The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This review was originally published on 3/21/16; updated on 3/8/18.