Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Ghostly Mortality Review

Tonya Kappes is definitely one of my favorite mystery authors. Her characters are humorous, her stories are easy to read and engaging. She has a way of weaving a tale that makes you want to come back for more.

That's why I was excited to read this book. Emma Lee Raines is a "Betweener," she can see the ghosts of murder victims. She needs to help solve the murders so the ghost can cross over. Fun premise, right? I thought so too. In this particular book, Emma Lee's client is her sister, Charlotte. *tear*

I wanted to like this book. I did. And I really tried to like it. But in the end, I was glad it was over. Not a lot of investigating was done by Emma. Also, the biggest clue did not even happen in this book, it happened in the last book. It appeared in this book as a flashback. There was so much potential in this book that was never used, so many plot components that were never expanded upon.

I'm not one that likes it when the killer is pulled out of left field. This was done here. The killer didn't even have a name for the longest time. I understand crafting the story so your readers are guessing until the end. But the killer should at least be a character in the story, not someone that was barely mentioned twice.

I will continue to read any books in the series that Mrs. Kappes continues to write, because I've grown attached to the citizens of Sleepy Hollow, KY. And because I am a fan of her work. But I did not care for this particular novel. And that's ok. It's not possible to please everyone all the time. Even Agatha Christie annoyed me with the ending of Murder on the Orient Express. And that's supposed to be one of her best ever. I disagree. And that's ok.

*Note: if you choose to read this book, please know that the ghost is Emma's sister, so it's a bit of a tearjerker at the end. Have tissues ready.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Selah Bible Study Review

Shelley Noonan from Pumpkin Seed Press has created a new bible study she calls Selah. I've seen this word in scripture before, but I never really understood what it meant.

Selah means pause and listen. And that is exactly what you do with this bible study. Each week, you are given a new section of scripture to study. After you read the passage, you begin to fill in the study journal. There are sections for listing the people in the passage, for looking up words you don't know, and for noting any questions you might have.

There's also a section for recording how God revealed an attribute (or more) of his character. She includes samples of this in the back to help you.

And there are sections to write your observations of the passage, and sections to write how you can apply what you learned to your own life. There's a spot to jot down a verse or 2 that maybe jumped out, the main theme of the scripture. And, of course, a section for prayer.

If this all sounds daunting, have no fear. There are instructions in the beginning. I was a little overwhelmed when I first started this study, thinking I had no idea how to do it, or if I was going to get anything out of it.

But, I must say, it's one of the better bible studies I've ever done.

There's so much to think about, but in the end, it's all about pausing and listening to what God is really trying to say to you. There's no need to do a big, complicated bible study. There's no need to rush through it at a chapter or two (or three!) a day. Everything God wants us to know is right there in his word. All we have to do is listen to him.

Another great thing about this study, is you read the same passage every day for a week. I don't know about you, but I can read the same scripture several times and get something different out of it each time. That's the purpose in this study. Read it again and again and again to make sure you understand what God meant for you when he inspired it.

I really enjoyed this bible study. If you'd like to read more about it, you can go to the Selah website. This study (it's on the book of Ruth) will be available at the end of April. And, trust me, you'll want to grab a copy when it's available.

I received a free copy of this study in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kneaded to Death Review & Giveaway

Kneaded to Death. I requested to review this book because I liked the name. And the series name. Bread Shop Mystery. So cute and homey.

Anyways, Kneaded to Death is about a woman names Ivy Culpepper. She returned home after the tragic death of her mother. While there, she decided to take a breadmaking class, hoping to find inspiration for her photography blog. When one of the students in the class turns up poisoned, Ivy sets out to catch "whodunit."

The pros: The descriptions of the people and the scenes are so vivid you can almost see them. Ms. Archer has a wonderful gift for setting a scene. Also, the characters are extremely likeable. I had no problem curling up under a blanket and delving into their lives. It was quite enjoyable. As for the story, it definitely kept my interest until the end. Ms. Archer gives you clues as to who the killer is so you can figure it out, unlike some authors that keep an important detail or two hidden until the end when the protagonist reveals the killer. I don't like that. I feel cheated. I, however, didn't pick up on some of the clues so the murderer was a complete shock to me. Then, afterwards, I was all, "OH! So that's why..." or "That's what that meant!" lol!

The cons: Ivy's obsession with her high school sweetheart, Miguel, is a little schmaltzy and over the top at times. I believe that could've been toned down a bit. 

All in all, it's a really good book. It didn't take too long to read and was quite enjoyable. I can't wait for the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher hosted giveaway:
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 20, 2017

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind

I rarely (and i mean rarely) review a book before I've finished it. Some examples include coloring books (because they take a long time) and bible studies (because there's often no need to finish them to be able to give a proper review). But books? No, I finish them first.

So why is this one an exception? Because I couldn't wait. I've only just started chapter 7 (of 29), and I've been chomping at the bit since page 1 (actually, page 7) to tell you about it.

I love this book. Love it! The author, Dana of A Slob Comes Clean is so funny! And she's real. She shares her struggles with being a slob with raw humor that I find refreshing. Loads of these types of books are all "I used to have this problem, but now I have life all figured out, and everything's super and perfect and roses and peaches and stuff." But Dana's all "I had this problem, but I figured out how to fix it, but I still struggle sometimes and that's ok." I just love that.

And, for real, I totally feel like she's talking about me (or to me) when she describes her struggle with being a slob. And she's real about how people might read her book ("Some of you flipped to this chapter and are starting here. I totally get it. You're desperate." p. 37, and "...I'll explain a little. [But not a lot. That's what the chapters you skipped are for.]" also p. 37). XD She even includes a picture or 2 of her mess. Makes me feel much better knowing I'm not the only one with a pile of dished on the counter.

Again, I'm only on chapter 7, but I can already tell this is going to be one of my favorite books. I'm going to pull it out again and again when I need a reminder or a little encouragement. I'm going to highlight my favorite passages and put sticky tabs on important pages. I am definitely domestically challenged, but for the first time in a long while, I feel like I can overcome that.

So head on over to get your copy of How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. (Don't worry, it isn't an affiliate link.) I'm off to do the dishes. ;)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Patch on the Peak of Ararat Review

 A Patch on the Peak of Ararat is a children's book by Gary Bower. Now, right off on the cover, you can tell that the ark in this book isn't the "bathtub" type of ark that most children's books portray. You know the ones. The cute little boat with Noah standing on the deck, and the giraffe's heads sticking out the top. That type of ark makes it very difficult to believe the account of Noah's Ark as truth. But this book has a nice, big ark with no animals sticking out of it. Safety and whatnot. :)

Anyways, this book, of course, rhymes (as most children's books do). But this book is reminiscent of "The House That Jack Built" in that each new phrase builds on the last. And each phrase is repeated after each new one is introduced. Which is fun for kids.

The illustrations by Barbara Chotiner are fun, too. My son, 7, that I read this book to said he loved the pictures.

I like that the book contains God's promise to never flood the earth again, but it never mentioned that God flooded it in the first place. Or why. The only time God is mentioned is when Noah followed his "carpentry plan" (lol!), and the promise of no more global flood.

However, it does tell you at the end of the book where you can read the whole flood account (calls it a "story" which I do not like) in the bible. So this is a nice way to introduce what happened in sort of an overview manner, then you can choose to go in depth in the bible.

It may sound like a lot of complaining, but I'm particular about my biblical children's books. This is actually a super cute book that tells about the account of the flood from the bible. While it's not particularly informative, it's catchy, fun, and it's a great way to begin (or end) a discussion about the how and why of the global flood.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Killing Us Softly Review

Killing Us Softly by Efrem Smith. Now, let me just say right off that this is not a mystery. That seems to be most of what I've reviewed here is mysteries, and with "killing" in the title I'm sure you'd assume right off that it's a mystery. But it's not.

That said, Killing Us Softly is a book about sin and redemption.

God's world was perfect in the beginning. Then sin entered into it, and it turned, as the author puts it, upside-down. Like Bizarro World in Superman. Mr. Smith painted a vivid picture of our world today and how it compares to the fictional Bizarro World. Things are all wonky and crazy. Animals kill each other. People kill each other. Diseases are rampant. Hopelessness abounds. How can we endure it?

There is hope. God has a plan for taking us away from all of this. And it's wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that he wants to change us to conform to what he wants rather than what the world wants, so we can tell others about God, and that they can see a difference in us.

But to do that, we have to die to certain things. It may feel like God is killing us, very softly.

It's a powerful book and I really enjoyed reading it.

I like what he said about race: "There is no biological basis for 'race.' What we mean by race is not based on ethnicity or nationality; it has no correlation to particular behaviors or intelligence. It's based entirely on arbitrary classifications such as skin color." Also, "God did not create racial groups of human beings." However, then he goes on to say that such-and-such white guy killed people and he was arrested. Such-and-such white guy killed people and he was arrested. Such-and-such white guy killed people and he was arrested. And then, 9 black people had run-ins with cops, and they were killed. I don't like this. And I don't agree with it. The situations were vastly different. I almost quit reading the book right then and there.

But I didn't. And I'm glad. Because it really is a wonderful book. It teaches about the power of sin and what it does to man, and about how to be redeemed from that sin.

As for me, it's a pleasure to be killed softly by the loving hand of my Creator.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Ghostly Reunion Review

Tonya Kappes has done it again! Seriously!

I really love Tonya's books. They're fun, engaging, and easy to read. She writes like people talk. Meaning she doesn't use overly complicated words or phrases that are difficult to understand. For me, that makes her books very enjoyable to read. You can concentrate on the story rather than decipher complicated imagery or whatnot.

That said, let's talk about the book. It's a mystery, so I can't tell you too much.

Jade Lee Peel was a beauty contest winner from Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky. She made it big as a reality show star, and came back to Sleepy Hollow to attend her high school reunion. 

But clearly, someone wasn't happy with her. Because they killed her. Now it's up to Emma Lee Raines, owner of Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, and her hunky boyfriend, sheriff Jack Henry Ross, to find the killer. 

There's something I haven't told you about Emma Lee... thanks to a bump on the head, she can see and hear ghosts. So not only does she have super cute Jack Henry to help solve the crime, she has Jade Lee herself. 

This book is fun from the first page to the last. (And the killer is quite a shock.)

Each Ghostly Southern Mystery ends with Emma meeting up with a new client; the ghost from the next book. At the end of A Ghostly Reunion we meet her next client, one I am personally very sad about. It's a beloved character. So I really can't wait until February 28th when A Ghostly Mortality is released. 

Anyways, this is another home run for Tonya Kappes. I really enjoyed it, and I hope you do too. :)