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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Evergreen by Susan May Warren

About the book:
An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris?

Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.

As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future.
My rating:
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My thoughts:

Review: I Am the Weapon (The Unknown Assassin) by Allen Zadoff [mainstream YA]

About the book:
Previously published under the title Boy Nobody
They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when The Program assigns him to the mayor of New York City, things change. Somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and a girlfriend; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.
My rating:
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My thoughts:

Falling For Autum Read-a-thon | Wrap-Up

This read-a-thon ended a couple days ago. I'm happy with what I read, even though I didn't read 150 pages every day or finish a book with a male protagonist. The weekend was just too busy to get a lot of reading done. ;)

Read a total of four (4) books;  
To read at least 150 pages per day; 

To read a book with an autumnal colour on the cover (red, orange, brown, gold);
To read a book with a male protagonist;  
To read the first or last book in a series;

Here are the books I finished:

I also started a couple other books, but didn't finish them in time. And the one was an ebook, so I didn't calculate the pages I read of that one, since it was only around 4% of the book.
Page count breakdown:

Monday | 150 Pages
Tuesday | 175 Pages
Wednesday | 219 Pages
Thursday | 322 Pages
Friday | 139 Pages
Saturday | 100 Pages
Sunday | 160 Pages

All in all, this was a fun read-a-thon! I'm really glad I participated. :)

Review: The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson

About the book:
A daring rescue. A difficult choice.

Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what.

When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.
My rating:
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My thoughts:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Giveaway Link-up #37

Welcome to Weekly Giveaway Link-up hosted by Crystal @ Just Another Book Lovin' Girl and me. This is a linky where you can submit your blog's Christian book and book-related giveaways and find other giveaways. A new link-up will be posted every Monday.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up (September 26) & Giveaway Winner!

Weekend Wrap-up is where I share what I read this past week, am currently reading, and hope to read this coming week, and (when applicable) the current giveaways/giveaway winners. Occasionally I'll post some other stuff as well. Be sure to follow my Pinterest boards "Free Kindle Books" and "Book Deals" to see the good deals/freebies I share about. :)

Feel free to join along and post your own Weekend Wrap-up on your blog/site (if you do, please leave the link in a comment so I can stop by) or, in a comment, share what you've accomplished (reading-wise) this past week. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Nadine Brandes ~ Author of A Time To Die!

Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Nadine!! Will you tell us a little about yourself? 

Thank you for having me, Melanie! I’m an author of faith-based speculative fiction. I’ve been writing with a goal for publication for over 10 years and boy has it been an adventure! I love the Lord, traveling, season, chai lattes, and music. I also work as a freelance editor and I hope to live the rest of my life working around books and story.

My husband and I currently live in Idaho (no children yet) and hope to travel a bit more of the world before settling down and starting a family.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NDAJBTU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00NDAJBTU&linkCode=as2&tag=chrisbooksrev-20&linkId=OZVDOA7S4O2CA4EZI love dystopian fiction and, I have to say, your book sounds very good. For those who aren't familiar with it, will you share about A Time To Die?

Okay, imagine you have a clock on your bedside or nightstand and it tells you – down to the last second – the day you’ll die. You watch it tick down every day and there’s no mystery behind when you’ll die. That’s what my book, A Time to Die is about. Everyone has a Clock telling them how long they have to live. My main character has only one year left when the story starts and she feels like she’s wasted her life. So, in a last-ditch effort to find purpose, she gets a little…radical. ;-)

What inspired the story?

This story came to me after the death of an acquaintance. He was the same age as me and he died very suddenly while doing relief work in Africa. I remember thinking about the little I knew of him – he was always zipping back to Africa to help out a certain village. He’d skip out on college, the family business, and any other responsibilities to go back to Africa.

Something in him knew he didn’t have time to go to college or invest in his family’s business. I wondered if I was using my time as intentionally as he did. From that question (and the many others that followed) I wrote A Time to Die. Through writing it, my own life and view of life changed drastically.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

When I started breathing. [grin] But really, I don’t think there’s ever been a time that I didn’t process something through story. I didn’t consider writing as a profession, it was just a natural need of life – like breathing and eating and sleeping.

When I was a child, I became a chronic liar. I embellished everything. Once I hit my teen years, I finally grew a conscience and started channeling that desire to fib and embellish into stories. Once I entered college for a different degree, I realized that writing books was the only pursuit that felt right with my dreams. Not to mention God continued to lay it on my heart until I couldn’t resist. So I started pursuing it professionally.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? 
I never use my first idea in a scene, no matter how good the idea might be. Because, chances are, a reader will think of that idea too and then that makes my book predictable. So, when I’m faced with the question of, “How will they escape?” or “What will happen to cause a fight?” I think hard on an answer…then ditch it and think again.

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=21973&picture=piano-notesWhere do you like to write? 
We have a guest room transformed into a writing room/library. I get to decorate it however I want. :D It’s positively magical and full of windows! But when I need to escape the house, I love working in old coffee shops. When I lived in Missouri, there was the perfect place made out of old bricks with a window corner. *Sigh*

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
Play music (piano), travel, discover new recipes, travel, snowboard, and travel if I can. ;-)

What is your favorite genre to read and why?
Speculative fiction, but that’s kind of an obvious answer. Favorite subgenres in spec-fic would be dystopian, virtual reality, and fantasy. I also love theology books that push me to deepen my faith. Like Follow Me and Radical by David Platt, Love Does by Bob Goff, Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer

What is your least favorite genre to read?
Romance. *Peeks from behind hands* I know, I know, it’s probably the most popular genre out there, but it’s not for me. I read too many non-realistic romance books growing up that created the wrong idea of what romance should be. Then, when I met my husband I was blown away by real romance --- the romance that God intended. Not a single book could compare and I lost my interest in romance novels from then on. For me, there’s very little takeaway from them that I can apply to my life.

However, I still enjoy romance in books. I just don’t like pure, solid, romance novels.

Is there a place you'd like to visit, but haven’t yet? 
Antarctica, but mainly because of book research. I’m sure when I start writing a book set in a different environment I’ll want to go there, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Did I Read All The Books In My "Beach Bag"?

You may have seen my Top Ten Tuesday post, Top Ten Books That Will Be In My "Beach Bag" This Summer, posted in June. I thought it'd be fun, now that summer is over, to share how I fared in reading those books.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: The Stress Cure: Praying Your Way to Personal Peace

About the book:
We live in a world filled to the brim with advice, and when it comes to dealing with stress, there's plenty of advice to go around. Sleep more, eat better, avoid this, seek out that. But more ideas about how to cope are not necessarily what we need if we're stressed and anxious.

What we need is a cure.

The true remedy to stress, Linda Evans Shepherd says, is prayer. In this inspiring book, she shows you how to recognize God's continual presence in your life and yield your troubles to the Prince of Peace. Through captivating stories, explorations of fascinating biblical characters, and examples of deeper-than-ever prayers, she brings within your grasp the peace that passes understanding. If you are overwhelmed by all of the urgent demands on your time, this book offers you a lifeline to true peace.
My rating:
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My thoughts:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Falling For Autumn 2014 Read-a-Thon ~ Sign-up & Goals Post!

Falling for Autumn Read-a-Thon

“Falling for Autumn is read-a-thon where we welcome the Fall/Autumn by reading as many books as possible during a week. It’ll take place from September 22 to 28, with daily guest-posts, interviews, challenges and giveaways. Everyone is free to enter by signing-up and sharing the official blurb by leaving a link to this post on twitter, Goodreads or Facebook. For more information, please visit A Cup of Coffee and a Book

The really fun thing about this read-a-thon is that there are official challenges for the read-a-thon! I think they are pretty easy, so I'm going to try and complete each challenge:

The official challenges are:
* Read a total of four (4) books;  
* To read at least 150 pages per day;  
* To read a book with an autumnal colour on the cover (red, orange, brown, gold);
* To read a book with a male protagonist;  
* To read the first or last book in a series;

The hardest one for me will probably be "read at least 150 pages per day". Hopefully this will be the encouragement I need to read more every day. 

Here's what I plan on reading:

Redeeming Love will work for the color challenge, Rebels for the male protagonist, and Deceived for last book in a series. Evergreen will just be my 4th book, though I'm hoping I'll be able to read even more books this week. ;)

Review: Love's Fortune by Laura Frantz

About the book:
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.
My rating:
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My thoughts:

Review: MindWar by Andrew Klavan

About the book:
Rick Dial has the potential to be a hero. He just doesn't know it yet.

Rick’s high school football team couldn't be stopped when he was leading them as their quarterback. He was going to Syracuse on a scholarship. But then his dad abandoned them and a terrible accident left him crippled.

Certain his old life is completely lost, Rick spends months hiding away in his room playing video games. He achieves the highest scores on so many games that he's approached by a government agency who claims to be trying to thwart a cyber attack on America that would destroy the technological infrastructure of the entire country. The agents say that the quick-thinking of a quarterback coupled with Nick's gaming experience make him perfect for this assignment. The problem is that there are no extra lives and this isn’t just a game . . . but Rick doesn’t have many other options at the moment.

Entering “The Realm” gives Rick the one thing he thought he’d never have again: a body that’s as fast and as strong as he ever was before the accident. But the more time he spends in The Realm, the more questions he has. What secrets are these agents keeping from him? What really happened to his father? How many others have gone into The Realm already . . . and failed? And perhaps most important, is he the hero they think he is?
My rating:
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My thoughts:

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Book Journey

I haven't done one of these "It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" posts since 2012 (Wow! It's been a long time!), mainly because I've been posting what I've been reading on Fridays with my "Weekend Wrap-up" posts. But, last week I didn't do one of those because of the End of Summer Birthday Bash, so I decided to do this meme! :) (p.s. all seven of the End of Summer Birthday Bash giveaways are still open until 9/28, so be sure to enter them while you can).

Weekly Giveaway Link-up #36

Welcome to Weekly Giveaway Link-up hosted by Crystal @ Just Another Book Lovin' Girl and me. This is a linky where you can submit your blog's Christian book and book-related giveaways and find other giveaways. A new link-up will be posted every Monday.

Sorry for not posting a link-up last Monday -- time got away from me.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

End of Summer Birthday Bash | Final Day ~ Interview with Lisa T. Bergren & Giveaway!

Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Lisa!! Will you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a mom, wife and friend living in Colorado Springs. In between “life things,” I write books. Over forty so far!

What is your latest book, Deluge, about?

It’s the 5th in the River of Time Series, which follows the Betarrini and Forelli families in medieval Italy, after two girls time-travel back. In this book, they all face the Black Plague, which was grueling.

You also released the first book in your new Dystopian series, Remnants: Season of Wonder, this year. Was it harder or easier to write a book set in a post-apocalyptic future vs. Medieval Italy?

Medieval. Because with futuristic, you’re just making it all up—tons of world building. With medieval, you have SOME facts to undergird your fiction.

Do you outline your stories or are you more of a "panther"?

Used to be an outliner, chapter by chapter. Now I know the chief event that happens in each “act” of the book, and I pants my way to each of them.

What are your favorite and least favorite genres to read and why?

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